I started reading Ecclesiastes 2 Days ago, and there is a lot of wisdom in there. Before starting, I thought it would be depressing, but I am happy to say that I was mistaken.
As far as I can tell (I didn’t read much further yet), chapters 1 & 2 are both an introduction and a topic for the rest of the book. The preacher talks about the meaninglessness of the world, and everything we do in it.
He begins by saying that nothing new can happen or be done, because everything repeats itself. In short, many things happen, and nothing changes.
Then, he goes on saying that the pursuit of wisdom in itself is vain, because it doesn’t bring lasting happiness.
He continues with the vanity of pleasure, leisure, “fun”, because of the same reason.
His next point his the vanity of work, achievements, “greatness”, riches, exotic riches, sex, and reputation.
After that, he builds upon the fact that a wise way of life is meaningless because it won’t change the fact that he will die. Wisdom cannot prevent death, or change what happens after death. A wise man will disappear in the same way as a fool.
His final point is the vanity of work, because nothing will matter when he dies – his belongings will be left to another person.
Basically, what the preacher is saying is this: That nothing we do for ourselves matters. Because nothing of it will change our fate, or save us, or fulfill us, or even remain with us after death.
I fought I would be depressed because I knew the first few verses, but I actually found the beginning pretty encouraging. I know that everything done for earth is vain, but I also know that serving the Lord is not. As far as I can tell, this will be the topic of at least the next passage, and probably a recurring theme in the book.
This is a great perspective to have. I know that my life belongs to God in at least 3 ways: He created me, he lets me live, and he saved me. Therefore, why would I waste this gift and responsibility and chase after vain things? I should really give my life to the Lord (all of it, I’m not talking about praying a prayer) and serve him with everything that I am, and do. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (in Shema Yisrael, Deuteronomy 6:5). This surely implies every second of my time! My prayer should be (and will be more so, from now on) “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12). I will try to live more of my life in a way that glorifies the Lord, and spend my time learning from him and teaching him. Maybe this post will encourage you to do the same!
As a sidenote – this doesn’t mean that we are not supposed to enjoy what God has given us, as another chapter teaches if I recall correctly.