When reflecting back on life, the Preacher/Professor has made many observations and come to several conclusions. Men though prideful and busy in their pursuit of success and satisfaction need to realize a few things. As a result of the fall life is short, it is difficult, it is frustrating, and often defies our innate sense of justice. Though one may think they are going to get ahead of the game of life or you may think they will satisfy their longing for what is missing, the fact is that you will not. Just in case you think the Preacher may not know what he’s talking about, realize in his time he was the wisest, richest, most progressive thinking, most powerful man in history, pursuing wine, women and song yet without addiction and the need for psychological counseling. We learn from him, one should cease from trying to figure out all the conundrums of life, because we will not, no matter how hard one tries, it’s futile and leads to restlessness and weariness. He knows, because he is smarter than you and I and has already put his mind to the test, only to recognize man’s intellectual limitations, regardless of IQ. In case you don’t believe him, know that he has the resume and accomplishments to prove it. He would be like combining Bill Gates, Hugh Heppner, Einstein, an US President and Al Mohler all rolled into one. He has accomplishments beyond all human comparison only to realize that it was never satisfying, all he sought left him empty handed. He was left to observe that the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, the wicked often receive the reward that should go to the righteous, and it’s frustrating beyond what words can express. The fool and the wise end up in the grave alike as well does the king and the pauper, so when you think your ahead of the game, because whatever advantage men think they are gaining over another, know that death will level the playing field and there is nothing you can do about it, God has ordained it so.
It’s not that God is oblivious to these facts; it’s not that He has lost control over the universe, quite the contrary, God has made it so. God in His sovereignty set the times, and the cycles of life that are the same regardless of when men are born in history. God has made things crooked that can’t be straightened even though many of us spend our entire lives trying to figure out how. God has left things lacking that can’t be counted only to drive men mad who think they can match whits with Him. These frustrations of man are the result of living in a fallen world, and God is not going to allow mankind to find satisfaction in the current world economy. Though the wicked often enjoy the fruits of their wickedness in riches and power, little do they realize “there is a pay day some day.” We learn that life is counter intuitive, that funerals are to be appreciated over a party, and attempting to be super righteous will not gain us a longer extensive life and the pursuit of foolish endeavors will end life even earlier. Outward circumstances are the basis which can discern our relationship to God. Wise men are ignored and fools are often in power. Those who have the most often enjoy life the least. We learn that men are sinful and show that our base nature often prove us to be no different than the beasts. It is these frustrations and the ever reminding shadow of death that remind men their life is futile so that we will be in awe of God, seeing His power bringing us to realize our limitations.
In light of all of this, though life is difficult and counter intuitive, life is still a gift of God, and even in a fallen world God has given men good gifts that almost all can enjoy if they will just listen. Instead of trying to get rich and famous, men should enjoy the simple pleasures God has given him. Though men try to avoid work, we were made to work and innately enjoy the fruits of seeing what our labor produces. God has given food and drink for men to enjoy on a daily basis, kings can’t accomplish anymore. God has given the pleasures of intimacy in marriage to bring us great joy, and we should rightfully pursue it. These are the things that God created us to enjoy, so don’t get worked up about careers, wealth, politics, and overwhelming injustice that surrounds us, these problems have been here and they always will. For those who seek God, there is wisdom that he gives us to navigate through the turbulent waters of this life, so employ wisdom as best as possible, though even wisdom will not deliver you on the day that God has set forth for your life to end. Being wise is to be much preferred over being a fool, but even wisdom has it’s limitations and doesn’t guarantee a man success.
Even in the simple pleasures God offers, life is still short, often absurd, empty, and refuses to offer any guarantees, one should concentrate on the eternal; the only thing of lasting value, which leads us to “fear God and keep His commandments.” God will one reward those who seek Him and punish those who pursue wickedness. Though the Gospel is not explicit in the teaching of Ecclesiastes, it is implicit. Solomon teaches from experience what a waste life is trying to pursue earthly goods and pleasures. He is the picture of the redemption of the prodigal son, who spent the wealth of wisdom and power on the wrong things in life wasting His Father’s inheritance to come back in the end to be brought to repentance and restored to the right conclusions. Much of Ecclesiastes is call to learn from himself, as not to repeat the same mistakes. Solomon who does not have a well developed view of the eternity or Christ still relates the Gospel to us. We live in a fallen world; marred by sin, of which we are all eager participants, who suffer from sin’s effects. Those effects include: injustice, unrighteous leadership, wickedness prospering, the pursuit of worldly success, and glooming reality of death. This is the dark backdrop of which Jesus and Paul preach, it is this dark backdrop that makes us look to God for help and deliverance. What Solomon didn’t know fully has been revealed completely in Christ. Jesus fulfilled the words of Solomon like no other man in history, perfectly fearing God and perfectly keeping His commandments, so that in due time Christ might bestow hope to us who are frustrated with this world and take away the sting of death. Christ imputed His righteousness upon us grant mercy and grace, redeeming from the a fallen world , so that one day we may know life without the frustrations of injustice, oppressive rulers, war, futile labor, without the temptation of wealth and power, while giving us the hope of life eternal, as to live in His presence, and worship in His Glory.
42 "The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.