DAILY DISCIPLINE #69
By Colleen Donahue
Most of us at one time or another have thought "if only I had....... more money, a better education, a different boss, or a new car..... THEN I could be different, or life would be different for me." Sound familiar? Well, we're going to continue our study of Solomon this month who seemed to literally have everything going for him. He was the son of King David and followed him to the throne. Money, wives, wisdom, peace in the land, great homes, great armies with horses, and chariots------all of it was his. He never had to think "If only I had...." because he had it! He was the most famous man in the world at the time so that even kings and queens of other countries came to him for counsel.
Was he really better off than we are? Did all his advantages satisfy his heart? His life and his journal (Ecclesiastes) are a part of our Bible so that all generations can know from his own mouth what it is like to have whatever you want, do everything you want, and be anything you want.
We've looked at part of Solomon's life from outside circumstances, now in this study let's look at .......
SOLOMON - Part 2-- Searching For The Meaning of Life
SOLOMON'S POINT OF VIEW
Day 1- It is difficult to tell exactly when Solomon's heart turned away from God, but by the time he writes this journal what is his perspective? Can you pick out the phrase repeated in all these verses?
Ecclesiastes 1:2,14 / 2:11, 17-26
"There was nothing that he saw, discovered, attempted, produced, initiated, or concluded as a result of his lengthy search that resulted in lasting significance or personal satisfaction".(Charles Swindoll -Living on the Ragged Edge-p.15) Vanity of vanities became his motto and in today's words could be translated as empty, hollow, zero, or meaningless.
Vanity of vanities is used about 20 more times throughout this book! In more modern versions this is translated as meaningless.
Day 2- Solomon's "under the sun" perspective means that he looked at everything from a human point of view only. We'll find throughout our study that there was absolutely nothing that satisfied him. And right from the beginning of his journal he shares his conclusion about life.
REREAD: Ecclesiastes 1:2, 14
Day 3- Lest you believe Solomon's "under the sun" perspective, let's look at the truth from God's point of view "above the sun". What has He done to enable us to transcend our finite lives?
Day 4- Although God has done this for ALL mankind, not all believe it or walk in the truth of it. Yet, for those who do believe it how does life change?
2 Corinthians 5:17 / Galatians 2:20
Day 5- This change in our lives produces a whole new outlook from what Solomon expresses. Our focus shifts from "under the sun" to "above the sun".
Day 6- And although we live physically on this earth, what should our attitude be?
Matthew 6:25-32, 34
Day 7- ... and what can we be confident of?
WHAT DID SOLOMON PURSUE TO TRY TO FIND MEANING FOR HIS LIFE?
I.SCIENCE/ NATURAL LAW
Day 8- To perhaps try to answer some of his own questions, Solomon studied science or natural law and came to very accurate observations consistent with later discoveries such as storm currents, and evaporation.
Day 9- But what did he find the more he studied?
II. PHILOSOPHY & INTELLECTUALISM
Day 10- So Solomon turned from his experimental efforts to the lofty pursuits of philosophy and intellectualism.
This is also what men and women in our day spend much time pursuing. If this is where true satisfaction is found, however, our universities and colleges would be the most wonderful places and no one would be anxious to graduate.
Day 11- There is nothing wrong with getting an education but what is true about living only by worldly wisdom?
Isaiah 47:10-11/ Romans 1:22 / I Corinthians 3:19-20
Day 12- What conclusions did Solomon come to?
(It's interesting to note that education and playing the fool are not far apart-v.17).
Day 13- The deep truths about God and life will never come through education or systems of philosophy. How will we know them?
I Corinthians 2:9-13/ John 15:15/ John 16:13
III. PLEASURE & MATERIALISM
Day 14- These next verses describe Solomon as he experiments with life. List for yourself all the things he tried to bring meaning and happiness to his life.
Day 15- Solomon had only just begun this search before he knew in his heart what the results would be (see Ecclesiastes 2:1B) Nevertheless, he spent many years pursuing his pleasures. Then one day he stopped long enough to consider all of them and sadly came to the conclusion he knew all along.
IV.WISDOM & MADNESS & FOLLY
Solomon now sinks to one of his lowest levels. God had already given him a great gift of wisdom (the ability to use knowledge correctly). In fact, Solomon in his backslidden state is surprised he still has any wisdom left. (See Ecclesiastes 2:9B). Now, he seeks to know all about good AND evil and so applies himself to know the perspective of a fool.
Day 16- What comparisons does Solomon make between wisdom and foolishness? How does he feel they are alike?
Day 17- Solomon now makes several "under the sun" conclusions.
REREAD: Ecclesiastes 2:17-24A
Can you think of any today that feel just like he did?
Before we go on with Solomon's experiments let's look back at the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes and observe a few things.
Day 18- As a young man in fellowship with God, Solomon spoke with God and God spoke with him. That is how it always should be.
I Kings 3:5-14 / 8:22-30 / 9:2-5
Day 19- But as he drifted further and further from God, who did Solomon consult with?
Ecclesiastes 1:16A / 2:1A,15
Day 20- Our spirit is the deepest part of us --as opposed to our body or mind-- and is how we communicate with God and God with us. Our spirit becomes alive when we allow God's Holy Spirit to live within us.
John 6:63 / John 14:17 / John 16:13 / Romans 8:11
Day 21- When we don't let God's Spirit live within us, our spirit dies and we are left with our body and mind to bring us the satisfaction that only God is meant to bring. With a spirit that was now almost dead toward God, what did Solomon spend a lot of time developing?
Ecclesiastes 1:13A,16-17 / 2:3,9
Day 22- The more he worked on developing his mind apart from God the more questions he seemed to have. Notice the questions Solomon asks in just the first two chapters. Can you hear the pessimistic, fatal tone in his voice?
Ecclesiastes 1:3,10/ 2:2,12B,15,22,25
Men without God are full of questions without answers.
Day 23- It is our relationship with God that keeps us looking beyond ourselves and out of the quicksand of our own smallness. But a man or woman without God becomes the center of his universe and ultimately chokes on his own selfishness. Now, reread Ecclesiastes chapters 1 & 2 and count how many times you read the words "I", "myself", "my", and "me"!
A popular song of the 1960's sung by Doris Day was called "Que Sera Sera" - a catchy tune to whistle- the words meant "what will be will be". This is fatalism. It's the belief that events are determined by fate. It's taking life as it comes. It's a --"what's the use", "why fight it"-- type of philosophy.
Day 24- These next words have been sung and quoted by agnostics, atheists, and backslidden believers like Solomon.
Day 25- What gain has the worker for his toil? Despite Solo mons backslidden state, something of truth now comes forth as he tries to answer this. What does Solomon believe are God's gifts to us?
Day 26- Despite these moments of truth and inspiration, Solomon sinks back to his own "under the sun" reasoning and comes to the final fatalistic conclusion.
Ecclesiastes 3:15-22 (especially notice vs. 19)
But the problem with his conclusions is that they are only partial truths spoken without faith in God.
Day 27- It is true that the sinful nature of man causes one to oppress another and for evil to seem to triumph in place of righteousness.
Psalm 94:20-21 / Isaiah 59:14-15A
Day 28- But God will always have the last say. He will uphold those who are righteous and true.
Psalm 94:22-23/ Isaiah 59:15B-18
Solomon's equating man on simply the same level as animals is a total contradiction of what Solomon knew to be true.
Day 29- God made man......
A. In His own image - Genesis 1:27/ 5:1
B. For a purpose - Genesis 1:26/ Psalm 8:6
C. With a mind that can reason - Proverbs 2:3-5/23:23
D. With a free will- I Corinthians 8:9/ Galatians 5:13
E. With an immortal spirit- John 8:51/11:26
Day 30- Yes, our physical bodies do die like an animal's body but our spirit goes to an eternal destiny that is never talked of for animals.
2 Samuel 14:14 / 2 Corinthians 5:1
Solomon's "under the sun" philosophy is what so many men and women today believe, but is totally contrary to the abundant life God has for us.
Next study we'll continue with Solomon's quest for meaning and satisfaction and examine our own lives at the same time.
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