As a nation, we Americans (USA) thrive on what's new. It seems to be the engine of our economy, and the goal of our pursuit of happiness. Businesses and social networks are dedicated to our pursuing this elusive pursuit of happiness.
The news media wait like vultures for the latest tragedy, disaster, or terrorist attack, then flood us with repeated images and sound bytes. Commercials tout the latest and greatest clothing style, car, or big-meal-deal that we must go out and buy. I mean, how can we live without such things?
And yet, more people than ever are medicated for depression and anxiety, while suicide rates soar. Our collective pursuit of happiness is an elusive, never-ending effort, which leaves most people empty-handed. And yet, it's nothing new. Ancient wisdom tells us this.
The words of the spokesman, the son of David and the king in Jerusalem. “Absolutely pointless!” says the spokesman. “Absolutely pointless! Everything is pointless.” What do people gain from all their hard work under the sun? Generations come, and generations go, but the earth lasts forever. [vss 1-3]
The sun rises, and the sun sets, and then it rushes back to the place where it will rise [again]. The wind blows toward the south and shifts toward the north. Round and round it blows. It blows in a full circle. All streams flow into the sea, but the sea is never full. The water goes back to the place where the streams began in order to [start] flowing again. [vss 4-7]
All of these sayings are worn-out phrases. They are more than anyone can express, comprehend, or understand. Whatever has happened before will happen [again]. Whatever has been done before will be done [again]. There is nothing new under the sun. 10 Can you say that anything is new? It has already been here long before us. [vss 8-10]
I thought to myself, “I have grown wiser than anyone who [has ruled] Jerusalem before me. I’ve had a lot of experience with wisdom and knowledge.” I’ve used my mind to understand wisdom and knowledge as well as madness and stupidity. [Now] I know that this is [like] trying to catch the wind. With a lot of wisdom [comes] a lot of heartache. The greater [your] knowledge, the greater [your] pain. [vss 16-18]
(Ecclesiastes 1:1-10; 16-18 GW) [Context– Ecclesiastes 1]
Key phrase— There is nothing new under the sun
[bctt tweet="There is nothing new under the sun"]
What do you see as the main thought of all these verses?
What is the main reason for "the spokesman" saying these things?
Have you had similar thoughts as these? If so, why?
What does this spokesman (King Solomon) say about gaining all of his wisdom?
Could it be we are looking for the wrong kind of happiness, in the wrong places, and in the wrong way? This is the point, more or less, of the book of Ecclesiastes. King Solomon was considered the wisest man on earth (1 Kings 4:29-34). Important people from around the world came to hear his wisdom, such as the Queen of Sheba who tested his wisdom (2 Chronicles 9:1-8).
He amassed great wealth, hundreds of wives and concubines, was well-learned, and yet he viewed all of it as pointless. What would bring him to that view of life? Well, there's more to the story than that, and more to the wisdom found in Ecclesiastes.
This book is written in an ancient philosophical form called speculative wisdom. It can also be seen as a foil—a contrast—between worldly and godly wisdom. In coming studies, we'll revisit these thoughts, so keep updated on these studies posted on Fridays.
Make it personal...
Read through the Scripture text again to consider and answer the following questions
Do you ever feel life is pointless? If so, what brings you to that place?
What makes you happy? What is most important in your life?
What are ways you find to break the routine of life?
How do you keep a positive view of life, when it seem monotonous and pointless?