Vanity of vanities! All is vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:2
Ecclesiastes in our Bible is also thought to be written largely by Solomon. It is a backward-looking reflection on a long life. Its world-weary tone recaps little benefit from pleasure, riches, intellect, accumulation of people/things, or diligent work in themselves. It is a view of life from a purely human perspective, where everything seems futile and meaningless.
Purpose and the meaning of life are things that have been searched for from the early human experience. We all get to a point where we wonder, “Is this all there is?” We strive and work and pursue knowledge, pleasure, careers, possessions, people…but while there are moments of temporary enjoyment, they never fully satisfy. We are left empty and searching for the next thing to fill that void.
Ecclesiastes starts off with words like, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2) and “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Statements on the monotony and dissatisfaction found in the world’s rat race that falls short of any lasting fulfillment.
Through experimenting with all the world has to offer and coming up empty, Solomon comes full circle, acknowledging everything is from God and for God.
Ecclesiastes closes with this, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
God gives good gifts to His people for our enjoyment. He has prepared good works for us to pursue in this lifetime, but ultimate fulfillment is in Him. Life apart from God will never fully satisfy.
Questions: Where do you go to find purpose and meaning? Are they satisfying or futile and meaningless?