The teacher of the Jewish congregation, Qoheleth, used to say “Life is meaningless, completely meaningless!” One of the wisest sages ever, I have found the meaning of life through much despair. With access to everything that life could offer materially, he was certainly qualified to advise. We do not have access to such riches, but we have his legacy to learn from and apply.
After strolling around a mall, I recently heard a group of three bushes playing and singing. As I approached and passed these musicians, I heard one of them say to the others, “Not a very receptive bunch today, are they?” I came to think. It’s a pretty grateful kind of job, busking. You can add this to say, telemarketing. There are many jobs that are grateful, bleak and unsatisfactory.
‘Life isn’t fair, is it?’ The opening line in Lions King is so true. We have these built-in dreams – we are born to dream about the things we want, but how many of us achieve it? We tend to be forced towards goals that are largely unattainable. And even if we reach the high goal, it doesn’t seem worth it most of the time.
Wisdom is not a stroll in the park. It’s about accept the pain of reality. “With a lot of wisdom, you eat a lot of grief,” Qoheleth says. You can build things and you can count things; you can achieve anything under the sun and it still gets you nowhere. You still have life to live. Living is such a paradox; not many will really die, but life is stupid, plain and simple. You can work and love your work, but work doesn’t make you happy. Nothing can make you happy in the long run. You still have to return to the truth that we should not be easily satisfied. That’s life.
Is the job good or bad?
We tend to always wander between laziness and exhaustion in life. We either want to “kick back” or take on the world. We get a kick in the back or we get burned out! There is no happy midway course where we would be happy just to work and rest and play appropriately. Qoheleth puts it succinctly: “The fool folds his hands and destroys himself. Better a handful of tranquility than two handfuls of wear and tear of the wind.” A handful is patience enough not to be too greedy. It is ready to wait cheerfully. This person has an attitude that he does not need to work as a way to feel good or compete with another. With attitude like competition, there are envy or ambitions that drive “diligence” in this ‘two-handed’ work. The Greek word (zlos) or avid is used, which means strong love or to striving eagerly, and this indicates that the motives for working are far from pure. We have to decide to work freely for other reasons. It is simply good and it is a “gift of God” to work. It is clear that we must rejoice in our work, that it is our “party” and our “part”. It’s a secret to happiness.
Is life really vanity, folly and meaninglessness?
Many things in life are simply a waste of time. They may seem satisfying, but the satisfaction is fleeting. Most of life could be described in this way. It is an irony in life that the satisfaction that lasts is from nothing we can see. Spirituality is the only way to truly and lasting satisfaction. Nothing material will keep us happy for long. It is the love we feel for a family member that we can not see and can only feel it is eternal. So most of life is vanity, folly and ultimately meaningless.
Septuaginten has the word (mataiots) or vanity. folly. The Hebrew equivalent used is Hebel meaning, vanity. emptinesssomething passingand in the end unsatisfactory. It means ‘religious error’ and is ethically inferior. It is ultimately stupidity to get involved vanity, whatever that may be. This theme “is on the constant horizon of Qoheleth’s thought.”
There are different meanings to this word in different contexts throughout Ecclesiastes. For example, there is a specific example that it means “senselessness.” Paul uses the word mataiots and it is also translated as “frustration” in the NIV and TNIV. So whatever meaningless is also frustrating – It must be carefully avoided. It’s a trap.
Wisdom is more powerful and influential than wealth. Quiet words of wisdom must be observed, preferably “the shouts of a fool’s ruler” but such a small knot of folly will destroy what the potential brilliance wisdom can create. It contaminates the situation, rendering it useless.
Progress in life
There is no point in (career) progress for the sake of guilt. It only makes sense if it is part of yours call, part of yours passion. How many rich and famous people have spent their entire lives striving for “dream life” only to find out too late they completely missed the point? You can look at the numbers that go off the rails and either lose everything, get mentally ill or have family turmoil. What did they get for their goals? – Discontent and pain.
The truth is “time and chance” and good things are available to everyone, whether good or bad, wise or foolish, learned or ignorant, strong or weak, rich or poor. We can be caught wherever we are at any time, no matter who we are or what we have done, so it is always good to expect the unexpected.
It is also important to know that the same fate awaits us all – we all die, whether we have lived wisely or foolishly. Does this mean that we have a resignation for ‘the way things are’ and live a kind of hopelessness that does not seek promotion, at least as far as learning wisdom goes? No, we need to promote our learning, but it must be motivated by things other than pure promotion. There are a myriad of possible reasons to want to learn wisdom, such as being equipped to avoid problems, having healthy relationships and sticking to a generally straight path, to say nothing of a healthy and inspiring legacy, like the wise person can leave behind after their death. How are we to be remembered in life? What did our lives stand for? As the Proverbs suggests, “The name of the righteous is used for blessings, but the wicked will rot.” We could see this as a legacy that encourages us to wisdom; genuine progress.
To speak the truth
It is important to speak the truth as it maintains peace. If you make a promise, keep it, says Qoheleth. None of us realize how much awe of God we really should be. What we say and do we have to answer; every loose and lying word. Taking the good with the bad and being able to thank God for both is a key to living life. Good things happen to us, and so do bad things. Why then should we curse the bad?
Why be worried when others say things about us? We know we have cursed others too. It’s rarely personal. It is not done to wound mortally; just simply a fact of life that our hearts are crooked and depraved and searching for “juicy” words to feed, both by speaking and listening. The challenge is to allow ourselves to be taught not to talk about others (or hear about others) in a defamatory kind of way, and most importantly not to practice thought leading to vitriolic speech. We know what it feels like to be hurt by others, so why would we allow ourselves to continue doing so unchallenged? What goes around comes around. What we give has a fun way to get back to us.
We need to be very careful not to offend people within our minds. As it says in the passage: “Do not expose the king himself in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird in the air can carry your words and a bird on the wing can report what you say.” How often do we say things out loud, in the privacy of our own homes, and yet the neighbor knows only too well “how” we live and what we stand for. We can compare this to what we know (or think) about our own neighbors. There is not so much privacy in life.
People often fall for the trap of cursing today and thought yesterday was so much better. Those who seek wisdom do not ask such dangerous and superfluous questions. What difference does such claims make? It does not benefit anyone who speaks such non-truth when what lies beneath is simply anger or frustration over the current challenges. It would be better to tackle the current issue and not waste one’s breath and energy. It may be best to return directly to Ecclesiastes: “In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity you should consider that God has created one side by side with the other, so that man may not find out what is to come. be after him. “ It is not for us to wonder about things that are not our business. Why do we want to voluntarily go down the road of misery? That seems to be the likely outcome, but it always is! Those who complain injure themselves.
Temperament, concern and health
How do you handle a weak situation? Thomas Jefferson says to “stay cool and undeveloped” regardless of the circumstances. This is where resilience and standing firmly are so important. Ecclesiastes clearly tells us that the fear of worry is again meaningless. It brings in Jesus’ teachings not to worry about tomorrow; that today has enough for us to get busy with.
In the particular context of youth, it is amazing how many people spend their ‘hard earned’ on cosmetics to make them older supposedly more graceful. God has to wonder, “They lose their health to make money … and then lose their money to restore their health.” It is folly.
We know today the impact of anxiety on our physical health, not to mention the concerns we may have about physical disorders and our diminishing ability to “keep up” with the younger ones as we grow older. We are advised to disregard this type of concern.
Anxiety, worry, and fear can make us do fun things. We act impulsively, send it e-mail or are currently in the mood with little regard to the actual consequences. This is especially a matter of email, as we can send them ‘broadcast’ and only later wish we had ‘remembered’ it sooner! I heard about a manager who did this recently – he felt an e-mail at the end of the year congratulating his staff on their efforts, but nonetheless made some inflammatory comments about the company’s management practices and he was soon to ‘ cleared his office.
Psalm 37 is quite targeted to highlight the effects of worry as the unjust come their way and as a result become envious. Verse 8 is especially aware that it actually says: don’t worry; it only leads to evil and wrongdoing. In other words, you can only hurt yourself, others, and ultimately the situation if you worry, worry and stress. We need to constantly reflect on this so it can take root in our lives. Every time we ‘panic’ over everyday situations, we squander our chance to give our best. Whatever happens, we must strive to remain under control and not worry. Concern, irritation and stress consume excess energy.
Fear of the LORD
This concept is put forward as the best goal of life in Ecclesiastes; to fear God and keep His commandments. In this way, the other central Hebrew (and Christian) scripture follows a tee. Deuteronomy, Psalm, Proverbs and Job suggest that fearing God is the foundation of not only wisdom but life. It is this paradox that emerges: God fearing, and we need not fear anything else. Do the right and fair and just thing, and we remain on a ‘straight path’ towards eternal living, it is both now, and also in life to eat.
This life of fearing God is nothing about intimidation; it is not burdensome; it is the freedom to drink from the ‘fountain of life’ which is to experience everything under the sun within the reasonable limits that God has provided. Only those with open eyes, ears and ultimately an open heart can receive such a message. God wants us to fear Him for ours own God, not his. We ignore this instruction for our profile. “Life, whether play or work, is subject to current and final reviews of God.”
For love or money
If you accumulate wealth, someone else will get it when you are dead and they will likely wipe it out. It may be pessimistic, but it is true. Naked we come, naked we go. Whoever loves their money never gets enough – and that is insanity. Why would you follow riches when there is “malaise” there? You can only have so many “toys”. The more you have, the more you may have a tendency to worry. “Is my so-and-so safe … is my forward okay?” It can create worry, anxiety, stress and anger when your property is violated. It complicates life. If you are wise, you will not fall for such folly. Wisdom is a far better goal than money. Both are a “shelter,” but only wisdom “preserves the life of its possessor.”
This is what Dionysius the Great said about the possession of wisdom:
“Therefore, he is keen to show what kind of possessions remain with the proprietor and continue steadily and sustain himself for him, he adds: ‘My wisdom also remained with me.’ For this alone remains, and all these other things which he has already enumerated are fleeing and leaving. Wisdom therefore remained with me, and I remained by virtue of it. “
This section brings together the benefits of wisdom by staving off folly and madness that this heavenly wisdom is truly a gift from God. And it’s accessible to everyone. After all, doesn’t wisdom cry out loud for everyone to hear? But how many do not respond? Ignorance creates a tendency for mental instability. We know that a lack of love can cause mental illness, so why wouldn’t a lack of wisdom also create the ‘ecosystem’ where folly and madness can sprout and thrive?
In wisdom literature, we are told that consistency is key. As my mother used to say, “You can’t get your cake and eat it too.” We cannot chop and change in terms of justice and worldliness and expect only “good” results.
A time and a way to do everything
It is a real comfort to us to know that there is an appropriate time and a proper way of doing all things – there is a solution to every situation and problem. When asked to do something about a “royal” figure, we should gladly respond to the request and have faith in knowing that there is a way. For our shrubs from the beginning of the article, there is a way to receive the support they have demanded; maybe it was just the wrong day they played, or maybe it was the wrong choice of location to play?
Given that there is a “right” way and time in every situation, it may be about choosing our position at the moment. This is Emotional Intelligence (EI). The moment we are able to “dedicate” precise emotional and mental reaction to an interpersonal or intrapersonal situation is the moment we demonstrate EI competence. This is the ability to reflects at the moment to change our approach or response es we do it and not afterwards when the mistake has already been committed. When we are EI competent, there is less ‘sorry’ because we adjusted before we hurt. It is only through the use of EI competence and strategies that we can truly, consistently and respectfully serve our fellows. During times when we are confused or do not know the right answer, we need to learn how to expose, handle and / or shift focus and weight.
The irony of wisdom and life
More is often less and less is often more in this life as paradoxes and ironies confuse even the wisest people. Our appetite can never be satisfied. Our desires must be disciplined or they will cause us problems.
Life is short, in fact fleeting. We think we’re here forever. It’s an illusion, time. Be careful, it goes faster than you think, and a fantastic irony is that we wish it were at times. How we make it if it happened (our death) at that moment. Be thankful.
Finding yourself in the mourning house is better and safer than laughing or partying. It is better to be told than to be lied to “how good you are”. Wisdom life is not about personal comfort; it is about truth and reality. It is always better to finish strong than start well and then finish poorly. We should consider wisdom as a legacy. We need to deliver it to our loved ones and charge them to do the same and carry the message through time.
Nothing is new
Besides new technology, nothing is new; we only re-badge what has already been discovered. We may think we are creating something unique, but it has all been done before, only in a different way with different people, in a different environment. There is nothing wrong with reprinting. We just shouldn’t get too caught up in something we’re doing – it’s not “ours.” It is someone else’s and always has been and always will be. Don’t hold on to things, ideas, concepts, visions. The treatment is know something personal – that he (God) shared it with you in such an intimate way.
The ultimate thing that is not new is “vanity.” This is to say, “no single part of God’s good world can release the meaning of life. Life itself is unable to deliver the key to the questions of identity, meaning, purpose, value, enjoyment and destiny. Only by learning To know God you can begin to find answers to these questions. “ [Italics added for emphasis.]
Wisdom and folly
Patience is superior pride and a calm spirit is for the wise. The problem with anger is dispersal. We lose our cool and then have a pile of remaining emotions and effects to tackle. The release of this type of energy is never controlled; it is never perfect. There are always falls out.
There is a process involved in the development of closeness. “Evil is folly, and folly is madness.” It is a downward spiral toward relative insanity. The correction is a fine ban; to turns away from the evil way. Discovering that our hearts are the basis of the problem is freedom. At least from this point of view we can prevent “being fooled” with an act of courage turn away sin, provided we are aware of this tendency to iniquity.
Such an inherent folly is being sexually seduced. The scriptures always discuss the young man who is “bottom” of adultery, but there is cultural relevance to both genders. I can only imagine what it is like for a more carnal man; We are all challenged by sexual desires and desires, whether physical attraction or more. The wisdom approach is to drive the other way very quickly; it is the active avoidance of any questionable contact with anyone who can lead us astray. We must maintain a straight path with God.
Justice is rare, perhaps one in a thousand, as the author argues, and it is clear that we have all gone in search of many (dishonest) schemes. Jesus followed this feeling, saying, “This is the judgment: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” The irony is only when we admit this that we are open to receiving help. We disregard that in our profile. Too many “good” people think that they are beyond this simple fact of their own experience. The truth is that we are never beyond this; not one of us.
Moreover, those who deal with sin are caught “in” it, and those who ‘superior it’ over others inevitably also avoid themselves. Think of any action we might take to defend ourselves or go after another for an offense committed against us. The moment we even imagine a response in the rage of anger is the moment the brain releases chemicals into our bloodstream which are not good, especially if it is the dominant reaction in us. In other words, we hurt our own health when we respond in anger.
To illustrate, we say we are on the roadway and someone accidentally cuts us off; it is an honest mistake. For some reason, we are suddenly visible and furious inside. We have had a long, difficult day and not much has gone right and now this ‘buffoon’ has shown the height of incompetence! Suddenly we take after them. The moment we left a state of psychological homeostasis is the moment of birth of a physical act based on the anger of violence. There is such a quick, instant transition from feeling, to thought, to action. One millisecond elapses. Thought inevitably leads to action. There is wisdom in delay this foolish mindset, and in the end, it is wise to train ourselves gone from these quick answers.
We could be forgiven for thinking that, according to Qoheleth, the message of life is to ‘eat and drink and make your soul enjoy its work, for it is a gift from God.’ After all, it is refrain that is repeated no less than six times. A simple message perhaps, but one that bears quite a stamp; just work and rest, and enjoy both!
Throwing our bread on the water is to “take a walk” in life and not be a spectator. If we succumb too often in life, we risk missing out altogether. To bow out is an act driven by fear. When the time comes for a thing to happen, it will happen, and there is nothing that can be done other than simply preparing for it – preparation is diligence. “Happiness is where opportunity meets preparation,” as Denzel Washington said. Because of the uncertainty in life, we need to be doubly motivated in our readiness. Not knowing is no excuse and throwing our hands in the air on resignation will never be of help. We cannot hope to know everything, and a humble acceptance that life will be as it is is the best plan. “Be prepared,” as Baden-Powell would say.
Throughout this preaching text there are sometimes thoughts going from one side or one extreme to the other. For example, the day of death is said to be better than the birthday, yet “everyone who is among the living has hope – even a living dog is better off than a dead lion!” Both thoughts are relevant and both apply. This is a basic confusion of life. Both fit, albeit situationally. God favors the living, it is said. It couldn’t be said better than this time, could it?
“Go, eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Always get dressed in white and always lubricate your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, as you love, all the days in this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun – all your meaningless days, for this is your lot in life and in your laborious work under the sun. Whatever your hand finds out, do it with all your strength, because in the grave where you are going, there is neither work nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. “
The last sentence tells us that there is no choice where to go. Life is done. We do what we want best for ourselves and others while we can; work, plan, acquire knowledge and wisdom and do it now.
Another result to look for might be grateful. This person “rarely reflects on the days of their lives because God keeps them busy with the joy of the heart.” Usually we think of reflection as a good, positive activity. But we are apt to reflect on what we none have, and what is missing in our lives so much more. To be cheerfully happy and content currently must be the main goal of life.
Wisdom is a breath of fresh air that brings light to the face and steps. We are freer and ultimately more proficient, more responsive and more willing to serve, and we get even more life out of it, which in turn leads to more growth and opportunities through wisdom. It’s a spiral upward. It is hugely liberating that we can get so much wisdom, and yet know that we still cannot know everything. We can know many things, but there are fewer things that we really can understand. This is good because it frees us from perfection.
Ecclesiastes has its share of hyperbole, but it makes eternal prominence at every turn. It’s not a good idea to dream too much. It is always a better idea not to want too much. It is far better to stay real. We certainly need to know the end of these things – we will be judged. It is a special thing to know this and yet not be hindered by it. We are free, yet judgment will come. Accept it and move on.
It all ends when it starts and starts when it ends – it’s life. Is life meaningless? Yes, of course it is. And that is exactly why God is so important. For without God life is truly meaningless; But with him life is abundant, rich and flowing with grace. Of all the people who insist on a ‘claim to know God’ but in fact never fully draw on the reality of his truth, Ecclesiastes is the enduring message. “The need is as great for many believers held in cultural captivity as it is for unbelievers who also swim in the eddies. [currents or whirlpools] in our time and pursue pagan solutions to the questions of life and truth. “ God is the secret of life.
There is perhaps an irony with regard to our bushes we started with at the beginning of this essay. Are they perhaps the happiest of the lot? Is it that life?
© Copyright 2008, Steven John Wickham. All rights reserved worldwide.
 Ecclesiastes 4: 5-6.
 See Ecclesiastes 3:13. It’s to “look good in [their] labor “using the Greek word (mochthos) (Gk), which means tired labor, wear, rejail. This is a “gift (Gk) (dressage) of God. ”
 See Ecclesiastes 3:22. The other word (and context for) work in its actual setting is: “to rejoice” (Gk) (euphranthsetai) “in work” is (Gk) (poima).
 The Septuagint is the Greek version of the Old Testament scriptures; it is a great accompaniment to the Hebrew scriptures (Masoretic text) as it is very different in a number of areas.
 For example, see Ecclesiastes 2:23 for the use of this term.
 Roland E. Murphy, Ecclesiastes: Biblical Word Commentary – 23B, ed. GIVE. Hubbard, G.W. Baker, and J.D.W. Watts, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publisher, 1992), p. 117.
 Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. Ecclesiastes: Total life, (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1979), p. 48.
 See Romans 8:20. “For creation was submitted frustration. “In other translations, for example,” Uselessness “(NASB and NKJV) and” God’s curse “in NLT.
 Ecclesiastes 9: 17-18 (NIV).
 See Ecclesiastes 9: 11-12f.
 Ecclesiastes 2: 15-16.
 Proverbs 10: 7 (TNIV), observation from Dionysius the Great. See footnote with reference to Ecclesiastes 2: 9b.
 Ecclesiastes 10:20 (NIV).
 Ecclesiastes 7:14 (Enhanced).
 The full quote is, “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another that it remains cool and restless in any case.” See Ecclesiastes 10: 4.
 See Matthew 6: 25-34, which also reminds us of Ecclesiastes 11:10. Both speeches encourage the acceptance of things beyond our control.
 Westerman, M., The interview with God, (La Jolla: Get Inspired Now! Inc., 2003), pp. 11-12.
 See Ecclesiastes 12: 13b.
 See Deuteronomy 4:10, 5:29, etc. As stated in Walter C. Kaiser, jr. Ibid., Pp. 33-4; see also Job 28:28 (‘The fear of the Lord – it is wisdom, and avoiding evil is understanding. ‘); dozens of hymns including 34:11 (Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you fear of the Lord); and see also Proverbs 1: 7; 2: 5; 3: 7; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 14: 2, 16, 26, 27; 15:16, 33; 16: 6; 19:23; 22: 4; 23:17; 24:21; 28:14; 31:30, with 29:25 also showing what the opposite is doing, ie. fear of humanity turns out to be a snare.
 Walter C. Kaiser, jr. Ibid., P. 39.
 Ecclesiastes 7:12 (NIV).
 Reference to Ecclesiastes 2: 9b see ANF06. Fathers of the Third Century: Gregory Thaumaturgus, Dionysius the Great, Julius Africanus, Anatolius and Minor Authors, Methodius, Arn. Available online at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf06.iv.iv.i.ii.html
 See Proverbs 8: 1-11 for the appeal of wisdom to the simple and foolish.
 See Ecclesiastes 2:12 (TNIV).
 Walter C. Kaiser, jr. Ibid., P. 17.
 Ecclesiastes 7: 25b (NIV).
 John 3:19 (NIV).
 See, for example, Ecclesiastes 8: 8b.
 Walter C. Kaiser, jr. Ibid., P. 17.
 See Ecclesiastes 11: 1-6.
 Ecclesiastes 9: 4 (NIV).
 Ecclesiastes 9: 7-10 (NIV).
 Ecclesiastes 5:20 (TNIV).
 Ecclesiastes 8: 16-17.
 Walter C. Kaiser, jr. Ibid., P. 9.