“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities—all is vanity. What profit has a man of all his labor which he takes under the sun?”
Seeing things as they are leads to despair; seeing things as they can be in Christ leads to delight (Heb. 11:1).
What are you focusing on today, Pilgrim? The economy? The latest headline? Your failing health or that of a loved one or friend? The foreboding future? The threat of terrorism or disease?
If so, do not be surprised if today’s Manna could have been written by you.
King Solomon was the wisest man (other than Jesus) who ever lived on this earth. Crowned as king around the age of 20 to succeed his father, David, the young ruler was blessed by God with great wisdom, riches and honor (I Kings 3:4-15). His Proverbs are filled with spiritually-sage sayings whose truths could only come from God.
But, failure to continue following the Giver of such wisdom soon leads to a lack of it and a falling away into sin. Such was certainly the case with Solomon whose 700 wives and 300 concubines “turned away his heart after other gods” (I Kings 11:1-4). This led him into a life of immorality and idolatry, causing him to “do evil in the sight of the Lord” (I Kings 11:6), which incurred His wrath (v.9).
What a sad commentary of “starting strong, but finishing weak.”
And, how often this is still repeated today.
Ecclesiastes is definitely not a book to be read by someone who’s down-in-the-dumps, depressed or on the verge of hopeless despair. Solomon’s words of “Vanity, vanity—all is vanity” and “vexation of spirit” (1:17; 2:11, 26; 4:4, 6, 16; 6:9) sound like a columnist’s commentary from this morning’s newspaper. And, his repeated use of “under the sun”—some 27 times—reveals part of his problem, i.e., that he was looking at life without any faith-perspective instead of “looking higher than the hills to the One Who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1-2).
Oh, dear Pilgrim, do not bury your head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich and live with some type of Pollyanna faith of superficial optimism, pretending that everything’s great. Much better is a sober acknowledgment of our own falling short and a world rushing headlong down a slippery slope toward destruction.
But, before throwing in the towel or wringing our hands in hopeless despair “under the sun,” we should (by faith) remember the Lord God is still on His Throne and “the one that is joined to the living lives in hope” (Eccl. 9:4a; Rom. 7:7-8:1). Hallelujah!
Likewise, in the midst of such spiritual death and decay, we still proclaim Christ’s Resurrection Message of Hope that says “Whosoever will may come” (Rom. 10:9-10, 13) and “He has made everything beautiful in his time and set the world in their heart” (Eccl. 3:11a). So, “look to Jesus” today, weary one (Heb. 12:2a). He’s faithful and will use you to accomplish His work if you’ll remember to look “above the sun to the Son.” Amen and amen.
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated July 16, 2009