The Old Testament is divided into four major sections: books of law (commonly referred to as the Pentateuch), books of history, books of poetry and books of prophecy. Of the five books of poetry — Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs — the last three are written by none other than King Solomon.
Solomon is revered as one of the most just and insightful rulers in Israel's history, and you don't need to look much further than these three books to see why; each verse is saturated in a rich wisdom and a yearning to understand the true nature of God.
While Proverbs instructs the reader in the ways of wisdom and integrity and Song of Songs delights in the rapture of ripening love, Ecclesiastes stands as a rather poignant book of longing for reason and purity in a world that often seems devoid of it. Topics throughout the book range from the emptiness of physical pleasure, the mysterious nature of time and the daunting prospect of mortality. Read on to get a deeper understanding of the insight of Ecclesiastes.
"There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven." — Ecclesiastes 3:1
Trusting wholly in God doesn't always come easy, even for the most devout believers. Life is full of surprises that can throw your faith for a loop and leave you wondering where God is in the midst of everything happening around you.
It's okay to feel doubt sometimes. In fact, believe it or not, your faith would serve no real purpose without doubt. In the same way that courage is not a lack of fear, but the overcoming of it, so faith is not the absence of doubt but the determination to conquer it. Doubt is a natural reaction to times of change, turmoil and uncertainty, and that's exactly why your faith is the most vital during these times; the doubt you experience makes steadfast faith all the more valuable.
In 3:10-11, Solomon says that he has seen "the task that God has given the children of Adam to keep them occupied" and that God has "put eternity in their hearts, but still no one can discover the work God has done from beginning to end." Even in the face of fear and doubt, it's important to remember that God's plans for you may not always align with your own and to trust in the perfection of his timing.
"In my futile life, I have seen everything." — Ecclesiastes 7:15
Ecclesiastes 7 may be one of the most open and intimate passages in the entire Old Testament. In it, Solomon conveys the distress he's felt over a lifetime of pursuing wisdom and godliness in a world where "someone righteous perishes in spite of his righteousness, and someone wicked lives long in spite of their evil."
Perhaps, this is a thought that's crossed your mind in moments of contemplation or retrospection. Sometimes, life really doesn't seem just, and it can be difficult to reconcile that thought with your belief in a just, omniscient God. The wisdom you accumulate over the course of your life often comes from a lot of long days, trying times and sorely lost battles that can also leave you with feelings of bitterness or resentment.
This passage is a deeply resounding reminder from Solomon to avoid such extremes. "Don't be excessively righteous," he implores the reader, "and don't be overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Don't be excessively wicked either, and don't be foolish. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you grasp the one and do not let the other slip from your hand" (verses 16-18).
"I have discovered this by adding one thing to another to find out the explanation, which my soul continually searches for but does not find." — Ecclesiastes 7:27-28
In 1 Kings 3, the Lord appeared to Solomon shortly after he was anointed king of Israel and said he would give Solomon anything he asked for. In his desire to be as upright and honorable a ruler as his father David before him, Solomon asked for a wise and understanding heart. Pleased by his request, God bestowed Solomon with wisdom that no man before him had ever possessed and none would after (3:12).
What's particularly interesting about Ecclesiastes 7 is the conflict Solomon seems to experience with his God-given wisdom in verses 23-29. He says, "I have tested all this... I resolved, 'I will be wise.' But it was all beyond me. What exists is beyond reach and very deep. Who can discover it?"
While his wisdom certainly made him a prosperous and discerning king, Solomon understood that it could not replace his need for God. In fact, quite the contrary — his wisdom led him to rely on God even more as a source of comfort, rest and peace. No matter what roads life has led you down and what you've learned from them, one thing is for certain: God is always the conclusion, and peace comes only from your walk with him. The caring and supportive staff here at Collinwood is here to help our residents enrich their walks any way we can.
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