Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
John Phillips tells the story how a spider descended on a single thread from a barn’s lofty rafters. He wove his intricate web near a window. It was an excellent choice, with many flies buzzing around, providing the spider opportunity to get fat and prosperous. One day he noticed a stray strand reaching up into the darkness. Forgetting its significance, he snapped the thread. Instantly, his whole world collapsed. That is what happened to Solomon. In his youth, he maintained his connection with God—a strand reaching up into the unseen. Then he grew prosperous and forgot the importance of that connection. He cut the lines of communication with the Lord and his whole world caved in. Ecclesiastes is a tour of the wreckage of a man who made shipwreck of his faith—a sermon from the lips of a foolish old king.
This message begins with THE AUTHOR (1:1-11). Solomon expresses such cynicism and despair. Could this possibly be the same Solomon, who asked God for wisdom to govern? Who constructed the temple for worship? Who prayed such a magnificent prayer that the glory of God filled the house of God? It was and it wasn’t—biologically he was the same person, but spiritually he was not. His life was full, yet his heart was empty. There is a God-shaped vacuum in every heart—a hole in your soul—that only God can fill. Everything else is futile (v.2). Solomon presents life from the perspective of a man “under the sun” (v.3). We cannot make sense of life unless we view it from heaven’s perspective.
Next, consider THE ACTIVITY (1:12-2:11). Solomon tried to fill the hole in his soul, but he looked in wrong direction: “under the sun”—from a worldly viewpoint. He tried to fill his life WITH LEARNING (1:12-18). Education is fine, yet it can lead to pride, “Knowledge puffs up” the Bible says. Solomon tried to fill his life WITH LUST (2:1-2). Solomon knew how to party hearty, but the next day he was still empty. He had a thousand women—beautiful, exotic women, yet the sensations quickly faded. He tried to fill his life WITH LIQUOR (2:3). This foolish old king forgot what he had written (Prov.23:29-35). Alcohol may take the edge off the pain, but when you wake with a hangover, then what? He tried to fill the void WITH LABOR (2:4-6). Many try to find fulfillment in their work. How terrible it is to climb the ladder of success only to reach the top and find it was leaning on the wrong wall! He tried to fill the hole WITH LUXURY (2:7-8). He was the richest man who ever lived, yet that did not make him happy. Happiness was as elusive as trying to grasp the wind (2:9-11).
Now, we come to THE APPLICATION (12:13-14). Solomon has come full circle—he has learned from his errors and now will help us. REMEMBER YOUR CREATOR (12:1-7) Now is the time—life will rush by like a leaf driven by the wind. All of us have that appointment with death. REVERE YOUR CREATOR (12:13-14). After death it is too late for the sinner to be saved. It will be too late for the Christian to make a difference. Live on earth for eternity—that is wisdom!
Dennis Thurman has pastored churches in Western North Carolina for 36 years. Currently, he is Senior Pastor of Pole Creek Baptist Church where he has served for almost 20 years. Married to Marilyn for 40 years, they have 5 children and 11 grandchildren.
This article was originally posted on Dennis’ blog, Mountain Top Musings