Listen To Most Current
Grace Notes Archive
May 2022 (3)
April 2022 (7)
March 2022 (4)
February 2022 (4)
January 2022 (5)
December 2021 (5)
November 2021 (4)
October 2021 (5)
September 2021 (4)
August 2021 (4)
July 2021 (6)
June 2021 (4)
May 2021 (5)
April 2021 (4)
March 2021 (5)
February 2021 (4)
January 2021 (5)
December 2020 (4)
November 2020 (4)
October 2020 (5)
September 2020 (4)
August 2020 (5)
July 2020 (21)
June 2020 (29)
May 2020 (28)
April 2020 (31)
March 2020 (5)
February 2020 (4)
January 2020 (5)
December 2019 (5)
November 2019 (3)
October 2019 (5)
September 2019 (4)
August 2019 (5)
July 2019 (4)
June 2019 (5)
May 2019 (4)
April 2019 (4)
March 2019 (4)
February 2019 (6)
January 2019 (4)
December 2018 (4)
November 2018 (5)
October 2018 (4)
September 2018 (4)
August 2018 (4)
July 2018 (3)
June 2018 (4)
May 2018 (4)
April 2018 (4)
March 2018 (4)
February 2018 (5)
January 2018 (4)
December 2017 (4)
November 2017 (5)
October 2017 (4)
September 2017 (5)
August 2017 (4)
July 2017 (4)
June 2017 (5)
May 2017 (4)
April 2017 (5)
March 2017 (3)
February 2017 (4)
January 2017 (3)
December 2016 (5)
November 2016 (4)
October 2016 (4)
September 2016 (5)
August 2016 (3)
July 2016 (4)
June 2016 (5)
May 2016 (4)
April 2016 (5)
March 2016 (4)
February 2016 (4)
January 2016 (5)
December 2015 (4)
November 2015 (4)
October 2015 (3)
September 2015 (4)
August 2015 (5)
July 2015 (5)
June 2015 (4)
May 2015 (5)
April 2015 (2)
March 2015 (4)
February 2015 (4)
January 2015 (5)
December 2014 (4)
November 2014 (5)
October 2014 (4)
September 2014 (4)
August 2014 (4)
July 2014 (5)
June 2014 (4)
May 2014 (5)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (4)
February 2014 (4)
January 2014 (5)
December 2013 (4)
November 2013 (5)
October 2013 (4)
September 2013 (4)
August 2013 (5)
July 2013 (4)
June 2013 (3)
May 2013 (5)
April 2013 (4)
March 2013 (4)
February 2013 (5)
January 2013 (4)
December 2012 (4)
November 2012 (5)
October 2012 (4)
September 2012 (4)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (4)
June 2012 (4)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (4)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (4)
January 2012 (4)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (4)
October 2011 (4)
September 2011 (5)
August 2011 (4)
July 2011 (4)
June 2011 (5)
May 2011 (4)
April 2011 (5)
March 2011 (4)
February 2011 (4)
January 2011 (5)
December 2010 (4)
November 2010 (4)
October 2010 (4)
September 2010 (5)
August 2010 (4)
July 2010 (6)
June 2010 (4)
May 2010 (4)
April 2010 (4)
March 2010 (5)
February 2010 (4)
January 2010 (5)
December 2009 (5)
November 2009 (3)
October 2009 (6)
September 2009 (3)
August 2009 (5)
July 2009 (4)
June 2009 (4)
May 2009 (5)
April 2009 (4)
March 2009 (4)
February 2009 (4)
January 2009 (5)
December 2008 (4)
November 2008 (5)
October 2008 (4)
September 2008 (5)
August 2008 (4)
July 2008 (3)
June 2008 (4)
May 2008 (5)
April 2008 (4)
March 2008 (5)
February 2008 (1)
Grace Notes

Current Articles | Categories | Search | Syndication

VANITY
by Philip Owen

 Surely, no bleaker portrait of man has ever been drawn than that found in Ecclesiastes.  In secular literature and even in historical records, men apart from God are portrayed with sentimental dignity and purpose.  Even men of great evil are invested with an aura of grandness by the romantic tenor of secular humanism.  The book of Ecclesiastes strips humanity bare of every shred of sentiment and human dignity, leaving him, like the prodigal, as one feeding among the hogs, striving with the beasts for survival.  It is no accident that the Lord chose Solomon, the wisest and richest of men, to write such a book.  We might naturally expect the galley slave, perpetually bending his back to the oar, chained in one spot for his entire existence, never seeing the light of day, and for diversion feeling only the crack of the whip on his naked back, to write such a book.  But how forcefully the truth is borne home when we realize that the Lord anointed Solomon—he who surfeited on sensual pleasures with seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, he about whom the cosmopolitan queen of Sheba was forced to declare after seeing “all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his waiters, and their attire, his cupbearers, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the lord” that “the half was not told me” (I Ki. 10:4b, 5, 7b; for even more, see also 10:14ff.)—to write such a book.  It was the fame of Solomon that brought the queen to his kingdom in the first place.  Yet so great was Solomon, so little had the whispered gossip and the shouted grandeur of his kingdom prepared her that, when she saw the reality, she was left breathless, speechless, and utterly deflated:  “there was no spirit in her” (I Ki. 10:5b).  The queen of Sheba, arriving with her own considerable pomp, “with a very large retinue, with camels carrying spices and very much gold and precious stones (I Ki. 10:2b)—gifts for Solomon—was left intimidated and amazed by the magnitude of Solomon’s greatness.

Yet it is this same man, who begins the inspired book of Ecclesiastes with these scorching words:  “’Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher, ‘Vanity of vanities!  All is vanity.  What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun?’” (1:2, 3).  No man has ever been more qualified to answer that question than Solomon—one supremely blessed in all the natural blessings the world has to offer.   Perhaps no human being has ever amassed such wealth, enjoyed such broad cultural experience, and indulged his utmost natural desires as did Solomon.   We need not seek what the world has to offer in order to discover its emptiness:  Solomon has done that for us.  And to those who would seek such or attempt to take comfort in such, Solomon offers only emptiness and despair.  Existentialism may have been named and formalized in the 20th Century, but its worldview is surely as old as the unregenerate flesh of men, its spirit alive in the breast of every human, and its soul given voice in the pages of Ecclesiastes.

One by one, Solomon examines, as one who knows them intimately, the pleasures and values of this life apart from the grace of God.  And one by one he casts them off as the dried and empty husks that they are.  Pleasure or mirth?  “I said of laughter, ‘It is madness,’ and of pleasure, ‘What does it accomplish?’” (2:2).  Riches and great works?  “Thus I considered all my activities which my hand had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun” (2:11).  Wisdom?  “There is no lasting remembrance of the wise man as with the fool . . . .  And how the wise man and the fool alike die!  So I hated life” (2:16a, 17a).  Solomon had known and experienced it all and had found it to be less than nothing.  What a stark warning this ought to be to us to avoid envying the successful in ephemeral things and to shun goals and ambitions rooted in temporality.  Solomon had it all.  And he pans it all—not with the coldness of disdain and contempt, not with the heat of anger, but with the shallow, tired, and empty sadness of wasted experience.  This life is futile and empty; the best natural goodness does not suffice.  We should marvel and rejoice that it pleased God to give us such a complete example of the vanity of everything that is merely natural and to provoke Solomon to give us his personal testimony.  We need not pursue those things to discover their worthlessness; we need only to read and believe the Word to be delivered.

Actions: E-mail | Permalink

Previous Page | Next Page