Darkness Under the Sun

April 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Posted in Ecclesiastes | 17 Comments
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King Solomon was looking at life from an earthly, temporal point of view, and he came to these conclusions:

1. Life is vain because of its monotony.
2. Life is vain because of the limits of wisdom.
3. Life is vain because of the limits of wealth.

I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:8-11

Solomon was the richest man in the Bible – maybe of all time. He was the Bill Gates of his day. However, no one can buy his way into Heaven or out of eternity. Somebody once said that if money can’t buy happiness, at least it will allow you to afford your favorite kind of misery. Money can be a valuable tool. You can’t eat cash, but you can buy food with it. You can’t keep warm with it, but you can buy fuel with it. This quote once appeared in the Wall Street Journal: “Money is a universal passport to everywhere except Heaven; and a universal provider of everything except happiness.”

For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

Ecclesiastes 1:21

You may have seen the bumper sticker that says, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” but this is not true. When you go to see God, you won’t be judged for how nice a boat you have, or how impressive your music collection was. The Apostle Paul described life as if it were a race, but that race is not a race to financial security. It is a race to become more Christ-like. The preacher in Ecclesiastes tells us that, not only can we not take it with us, but we can’t control it anymore after we’re gone. Some of the most agonized-over and detailed legal documents are wills and trusts. There is nothing wrong with wanting to provide for your family after you die, but when we spend so much energy trying to make sure our descendants have an easier time of it than we did, we might be doing them a disservice. Sometimes, working to achieve things for ourselves is how God makes us into who He wants us to be.

King Solomon felt that:

4. Life is vain because it has an end.

We know that this is true only in a limited sense.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Hebrews 9:27

The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

Ecclesiastes 2:14

The idea that we’re all going to die can be a depressing thought. It is one of the reasons why there is so much “escapist” entertainment.

There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.

Ecclesiastes 2:24

If we are not careful, we will focus so much of our time, our energy, our money, on entertainment, that we will not have anything other than shallow entertainment to offer the people we care about when we find them suffering. Movies, music, television, and pop culture are no substitute for Biblical comfort, counseling, and promises when someone is truly in pain.

However, there is an opposite extreme to mindless entertainment that can also be vain. If we become so fixated on our own sorrows that they swallow us up, we will become “depressed.” There is a plague of depression in our society today. I realize that some of this is caused by actual physical conditions or chemical imbalances in the brain, but a great deal of it comes from being focused only on what’s happening “under the sun.” Without the assurance of a life beyond this world with a kind and loving God, there is a tendency to think, “We know death is coming anyway, so we might as well stop living now and get used to it.” That’s the view “under the sun.” But “over” the sun – “above the sun” – God wants us to enjoy life and have peace and hope and contentment.

But godliness with contentment is great gain.

I Timothy 6:6

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11

Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth. The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

Psalm 115:15-16

The Lord does want us to have fun – but with Godliness. And He wants us to be content!

17 Comments »

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  1. […] rebuttal to his own arguments concerning the vanity of life in Chapters 1 and 2 of Ecclesiastes is found in Chapter 3. He […]

  2. Received this comment under the spam category, but I really enjoyed reading it, so instead of “approving” it, I’m just copying and pasting it here: “Not only is the vanity of life magnified by creation, it is as well magnified by the fact that we will find no new avenues of purpose and satisfaction. ‘There is nothing truly new on the earth.’ Just in case you think our technologically advanced society might be able to come up with new ways to satisfy man that would have been foreign to the Ancient Near East, the simple fact is that there are no new novel ideas.”

  3. […] earthly governments are corrupt. So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of […]

  4. […] of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth? From King Solomon’s Old Testament, life-under-the-sun perspective, he could imagine a life so filled with struggles, troubles, pain, and sorrow, that […]

  5. […] his or her back – but especially someone in a position of leadership over you. In the “under the sun” world of competitiveness, selfishness, and manipulation, it’s foolish to think that […]

  6. […] you ever shared the feelings of the writer of Ecclesiastes: That this earthly life (life “under the sun“) is just vanity? Is the best we can hope for just a little temporary pleasure between the […]

  7. […] Book of Ecclesiastes takes a hard look at life “under the sun:” life from a mortal, earthly, finite perspective. This viewpoint may be contrasted with life […]

  8. […] Contextual Wisdom 2. Nothing New under the Sun 3. Darkness under the Sun 4. Break It Up! 5. Right Where You’re Supposed to Be 6. Do Birds Sing about Eternity? 7. Good […]

  9. […] I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of […]

  10. […] Book of Ecclesiastes takes a hard look at life “under the sun:” life from a mortal, earthly, finite perspective. This viewpoint may be contrasted with life […]

  11. […] Contextual Wisdom 2. Nothing New under the Sun 3. Darkness under the Sun 4. Break It Up! 5. Right Where You’re Supposed to Be 6. Do Birds Sing about Eternity? 7. Good […]

  12. […] Darkness under the Sun […]

  13. […] you ever shared the feelings of the writer of Ecclesiastes: That this earthly life (life “under the sun“) is just vanity? Is the best we can hope for just a little temporary pleasure between the pains? […]

  14. […] Book of Ecclesiastes takes a hard look at life “under the sun:” life from a mortal, earthly, finite perspective. This viewpoint may be contrasted with life […]

  15. […] Book of Ecclesiastes takes a hard look at life “under the sun:” life from a mortal, earthly, finite perspective. This viewpoint may be contrasted with life […]

  16. […] Vanity is a type of idolatry. It is anything you are pursuing, or walking after the course of, that is not of God. Hopefully, you do not worship a graven idol, but if idolatry is giving your heart to anything that that is spiritually empty, then I am afraid that too much of what captures our hearts is vanity, and we are guilty of lifting up our souls to it. What should we be doing with vanity? With emptiness? With anything that is what the Bible calls “imaginations:” anything without eternal worth? […]

  17. […] it to God. The second my life displeases God, He is well within His rights to take it from me. Enjoy life now, but live with the future and eternity in […]


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