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.
Tag: vanity (Page 2 of 2)
1 “I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter—“Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?” 3 I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives. (Eccl. 2:1-3)
The opening verse of chapter two is a telling one. Solomon spoke to his heart saying, “I will test you with mirth [i.e. gladness]; therefore, enjoy pleasure” (2:1a). He was in essence doing an investigation trying to find out what could bring lasting fulfillment and lasting happiness. But… it didn’t work out. He said, “This also was vanity” (vs.1b). Pursuing laughter and the constant ecstasy of frivolity was seen to be madness (vs.2a).
As we continue to prepare the way for the answer to the question, “Why am I here (on earth)?” we come to Solomon’s first case study to deconstruct supposed self-satisfiers. He begins with the subject of work, briefly introducing the subject at the beginning of the book and then developing it further in chapter two. In the third verse of the book he wrote,
What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun? (Eccl. 1:3)
He used a financial term (“profit”) as though he was doing a kind of cost-benefit analysis. What’s the ‘bottom line’ from all of man’s labor? He gets around to the conclusion shortly after asking that question and the review he gave wasn’t exactly glowing, though it did start off promising.
A Little More Table-Setting – Authorship
The writer of Ecclesiastes identified himself as “the Preacher, the Son of David, king in Jerusalem” (1:1). You can see why most people throughout church history have seen the author to be none other than Solomon. He was the only son of David who was king in Jerusalem. There are those who, because Solomon is not specifically self-identified, and because some statements within the book, along with the style of Hebrews in which the book is written, could, on the surface, point in a direction other than Solomon, contend that he was not the author. But with that being said, I would argue that the arguments against his authorship have good rebuttals, and that the internal evidence points to the authorship of Solomon – i.e. being David’s son (Eccl. 1:1b), “king in Jerusalem” (1:1c), “king over Israel in Jerusalem” (vs.12), and the description as one who “taught the people knowledge…and set in order many proverbs” (12:9b). So going forward I will refer to the writer of Ecclesiastes as either that – the writer of Ecclesiastes, or Qoheleth – the Hebrew word translated “the preacher” (Eccl. 1:1), or, of course, Solomon.