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The Goodness Of God

The book of Ecclesiastes is the only one of the sixty-six in the Old and New Testament that is written from the point of view of natural man. With the unaided reason he can only see “under the sun”; a phrase we see often in this book.  We know the things we observe and that is sufficient to know there is a creator and that He has infinite power so that we can know What He is, but only through revelation do we know Who He is.  In other words we know of Him through reason while we know Him through revelation.  Psalm 75: reads; ”for that Thy Name is near Thy wondrous works declare”.  We see God’s works by observation and His Wondrous works, such as the opening of theRed Sea, primarily through Scripture.  A good exercise is to go through the Psalms, find each place where the word “ works” is found, then find “wondrous works” and note the difference; in all cases you will find it to have a different meaning, one from the other.   Always remember that the curse did not replace the blessing; the curse was added.  The blessing or blessings are still there.  This includes the gift of reason given to Adam before he fell. We still have that; see Isaiah 1:18 where God wishes to reason with His people.  The ability to reason was given to man before Adam fell and we see in Isaiah and many other places that it is still with us.  It’s always good to remember that reason with Revelation is a good thing; reason without Revelation can be a very dangerous thing. 

We find some thoughts that sort of run through Ecclesiastes.  One of  these is God’s goodness to man and giving many gifts that make life pleasant.   The first of these is in chapter two, the last few verses. Here we see that food and drink are from the hand of God, as is enjoyable  and productive labor.  We are also told that the good man receives in addition from God wisdom, knowledge and joy.  We see the same in chapter three, the last verse with this added; there is nothing better than that a man should enjoy his work.  God is in heaven looking with pleasure at a world of people enjoying their work, then enjoying the wine, olives, wheat and all the other things the land has produced.  In the last part of Chapter five the writer tells us that not only does God give the food, but the ability to eat it is also a gift of God.  There is always compensation.  The harder we work, the better the food tastes.  When I was in my eens we used to set bundles of corn into shocks.  Those bundles must have weighed a hundred pounds each.  We would work on this all day long.  Not only did the food taste just wonderful but there were other compensations, too.  We never thought of it as hard work.  One receives the extra strength and vitality to do the hard work and enjoy it.  Another gift of God.

Philosophy of man. 

There is much in Ecclesiastes about the goodness of God.  Solomon was the first of many  philosophers who tried to find the answer to life apart from God simply through human reasoning. The problem is that the answer is not found in reason but in Revelation; not in the mind of man but in the Mind of God. First, Solomon rightly sees the goodness of God not only as he looks round about but also sees that man must fear and obey Him.  We  see this in the last two verses of the book; ”Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter Fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil’.  This the man of earth knows but a questionfollows.  How do I make peace with God?  For this I need revelation. 

I think Solomon was the first of the philosophers.  There were others;  some of the Greek philosophers are quite well known, such as Socrates, Aristotle and Plato. I think they all came after Solomon and they all, like Solomon were seeking for one thing; the answer of life.  What is the meaning behind all this and how can I find meaning in life?  As we study Ecclesiastes we find that, apart from God and His Revelation it can not be found.  In the first chapter Solomon shows his futility.  As a thinking individual he tells us, in verse 13 that he gave his heart to search all things that are done “under the sun” but adds “this sore travail”.  There is a strong determination to get to the bottom of life’s meaning but he begins from the point of despair.  What he has seen so far is all meaningless so he is going to search deeper and with more variety than before.  What he has already seen, and it didn’t take great insight for that, was the repetitions around him.  He saw the sun coming up every morning and going down every evening . He saw that the rivers go into the sea  but the sea was never full.  In the same way the eye was never satisfied with seeing or the ear with hearing. All continued as before and there was never a new thing.  Solomon saw something else which was even worse.  Although the same thing was true of people and generations, this endless repetition, something else was also true and that was that regardless of importance, there is no remembrance of people or events.  All fades away in time.

Solomon has observed all this but found no answer to the riddle of life by simple observation so maybe he needs to do more than just observe.  He is now going to go deeper as he says in chapter 1:17:  “And I gave my heart to know wisdom” but he soon sees that this really gets him no further in his search   for either meaning or happiness as he adds, “ I perceived that this  also is vexation of spirit.  For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow”.  In Ecclesiastes Two we see Solomon checking out different things.  He is now concerned with happiness,  thinking that is maybe the answer.  So far, all his increased knowledge has only increased his sorrow.  So maybe happiness is the answer; but it isn’t.  Being a wealthy king he certainly has the ability to do whatever he wants to.  He has a group of comedians and they are no doubt the best that can be found.  They certainly can make him laugh but when the evening is over he feels like a balloon with the air left out. Later in life a wiser Solomon said: “and the end of that mirth is heaviness” Proverbs 14:13.  Even while the jokes and laughter are going on he sees that it is vanity and nothing more than madness.  After that he tried wine  with the same results. That wasn’t the answer, either.  So he switches to something different.


          Solomon gained the kingdom at twenty years of age.   He spent seven years building the temple and thirteen years on his own house or twenty  years in all.  During this time he had a number of other big projects going, including everything from animal husbandry to trading and made money on every thing he did.  As he says in chapter 2:10:”my heart rejoiced in all my labour”.  But then comes the anti-climax.  In the next verse he comes to  the conclusion; “ Then I looked on all the works my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had laboured to do: and behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun”.  Solomon was successful in every thing he tried, but not at all successful in finding the answer to the riddle of life .  All he gained from all his effort and increased knowledge was more discouragement.  There is another problem Solomon is now facing .   What about the man he leaves it to?  Will he have the wisdom to take proper care of all the works that Solomon has built up?  On his tombstone should be written ¨died age 40; buried age 60.

          As we look at Ecclesiastes we come to certain conclusions.  Solomon was given by God great wisdom, perhaps an unequaled IQ.  What then was his difficulty?  It seems that he lacked self discipline.  He thought that he could find the answer to the riddle of life with the unaided human reason (or thinking it all through) and apart from the wisdom of God.  If he had meditated on Scripture God would have given him true wisdom.  We also see his lack of self discipline in wondering about the man who would come after him. This turned out to be his son Rehoboam who was really not all that wise.  Why, with all his wisdom did he not spend time with Rehoboam and train him to manage the work he had built up.  We see the answer in Chapter Two where he tells us that he enjoyed his labour.  Too much, in fact.  He had no time for his  son.  See the difference with his father David in I Kings  2:9 where David  says to Solomon: “Thou art a wise man”.   David died in peace, knowing that he had trained Solomon well.  Another problem that Solomon had was that his goals were all realized .  He had lived for the future and when that came and his goals reached, he had no more to live for.  Imagine Solomon enjoying his work as he thinks of how nice this will all be, of the euphoria he will feel walking through the temple or sitting on his ivory throne.  But when it’s all over  his own testamony , in 2:11is that it wasn’t worth it.  It left him with a feeling of emptiness.  What then is the difficulty?  His time from work to goal was too short.  Our goal must be in eternity; then we never outlast it.  In Hebrews 11:4=Abel= he being dead yet speaks;9 and 10=Abraham; looked for a city;13=these all died in faith; 20;Isaac= blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come; 26; Moses=Esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures ofEgypt.  Someone will say that they were so heavenly minded they were no earthly good ; verse 34= Put to flight the armies of the aliens.             



Written by biblestruth

October 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Posted in scripture

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