In the Ecclesiastes, Solomon searches for the meaning of life. In his search he finds that much of what we value is really meaningless and empty, he discovers why these things fail to fulfill us, and he ultimately learns where true meaning can be found.
The King’s Exploration
- There is value in education.
- Education does not make us better people.
- Education cannot meet our most important needs.
- The enjoyment of life’s pleasures in the appropriate context and measure is not wrong in itself.
- Sorrow is better than laughter . . . because life is no laughing matter.
- Escape and distraction accomplish nothing of significant value in your life.
Food and Drink
- The king attempted to use wine to mask the sorrow of reality.
- Abuse of food, drink, or other substances only exasperates the problems it seeks to solve.
- The pursuit of experiences is popular among some poets:
- Carpe diem — Seize the day —Horace
- Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. . . . —Robert Herrick
- Experiences are fleeting and provide no more meaning than other pleasures.
- Faithful attention to our work is a virtue.
- Making work the most important thing in your life leads to sorrow and pain.
- Even the rewards of work are empty and fleeting.
The King’s Questions
What is the nature of life?
- Life is unfair.
- Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to good people.
- Life is unpredictable.
- Life is irrational.
- People will fail you.
- We’re all going to die.
What is the meaning of life?
- The king is starting to put the pieces together.
- The seeming emptiness of life comes from our failure to remain upright as God made us.
- If we want our lives to be meaningful, we must become upright again — but we’re not able.
The King’s Conclusion
The Parable of the Poor, Wise Man (Ecclesiastes 9:14-16)
- The man is Jesus.
- The besieged city is the world.
- The great king is sin and death.
- Jesus became wisdom from God.
- Jesus came as a poor man.
- Jesus, the poor, wise man, delivered the world from the siege of sin and death.
Meaning in life comes from being as God created us
- The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. —Westminster Confession
- We glorify God through godly fear and obedience.
- This is made possible again by Christ’s atonement.