Author: George Ippolito (Page 2 of 37)

Why Am I Here (On Earth)? The Vanity of Fame

So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem.

Considering all that Solomon wrote prior to this verse, fame would be the seemingly inevitable outcome. Nevertheless, he made the point, even as he did earlier – “I became great” (2:9a; cf. 1:16). Having surpassed his predecessors in wisdom, works, and wealth, he also surpassed them in magnificence and as a result he became a titan of notoriety. Yes, the geographical reference of Eccl. 2:9 is limited to Jerusalem, but the reverberations of Solomon’s fame spread well beyond Israel’s capital. The Queen of Sheba, for instance, “heard of the fame of Solomon” (1 Ki. 10:1) and came from “the ends of the earth” to hear his wisdom (Mt. 12:41). Perhaps this is where the previous conclusions of meaninglessness would give way to that which is meaningful. Perhaps the vanity of pleasure and possessions was a poor substitute for the worthy endeavor of a celebrated perception. Not quite.

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Why Am I Here (On Earth)? The Vanity of Accrued Wealth

If you asked yourself, ‘What are some of the things that people try to find joy and fulfillment in?’, provided you live in a somewhat developed part of the world, at some point you’d probably include in your list – things. Stuff. Possessions. Money. Gold. Shoes. Tools. Old baseball cards. And so on. Despite Jesus’ instruction that life does not consist in the abundance of one’s possessions (Lk. 12:15), it’s not uncommon to find those who live like it does. Jesus’ words, you could say, are corroborated by Solomon’s experience. He was a man who had just about everything he wanted and found that everything wasn’t enough.

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Why Am I Here (On Earth)? The Vanity of Entertainment and, perhaps, Sexual Pleasure (Eccl. 2:8b)

8b I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds. (Eccl. 2:8b)

Entertainment didn’t cut it for Solomon either. While typically reserved for feasts and banquets, he had for himself male and female singers. If you’re impressed with iTunes or Spotify, imagine what it would be like if you could have live performances at your disposal whenever you wanted. Before you marvel too long at Solomon’s entertainment options, you’d do well to consider how he might have marveled if he knew what would be available to the average Westerner in the 21st century. Who could have imagined screens of all different sizes providing seemingly instant access to music, movies, news, and just about any piece of information one could want? You probably don’t need either Solomon or I to tell you – trying to find fulfillment in the transient distraction of entertainment is vanity (cf. Eccl. 2:11). Sure, Nabal’s feast was festive (1 Sam. 25:36) until his heart died within him and he became like a stone (vs.37). Sure, Herodias’ illicit dancing pleased Herod (Mt. 14:6); in fact, Herod even found John’s preaching entertaining (cf. Mk. 6:20); and this man was so addicted to amusement that when he had the Son of God in front of him he didn’t worship Him; rather, he wanted a miracle to be done by Him (Lk. 23:8).

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Why Am I Here (On Earth)? The Vanity of Accrued Wealth

If you asked yourself, ‘What are some of the things that people try to find joy and fulfillment in?’, provided you live in a somewhat developed part of the world, at some point you’d probably include in your list – things. Stuff. Possessions. Money. Gold. Shoes. Old Baseball cards. And so on. Despite Jesus’ instruction that life does not consist in the abundance of one’s possessions (Lk. 12:15), it’s not uncommon to find those who live like it does. Jesus’ words, you could say, are corroborated by Solomon’s experience. He was a man who had just about everything he wanted to have, and found that everything wasn’t enough.

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Why Am I Here (On Earth)? The Vanity of Building Your Own Estate

Solomon’s pursuit of pleasure did not cease with his failed experiments in the areas of partying, laughing, and drinking (Eccl. 2:1-3). He pressed on. Not to an OT equivalent of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14); but, in continued attempts to find meaning and fulfillment, he surveyed the sensations that accompanied success in the hopes of finding fulfillment therein. Next up, building and real-estate beautification.

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