Ralph's Daily Devotional - Tuesday, April 10

Ecclesiastes (Author Solomon 950 B.C.) is part of what we call the "wisdom literature" of the Bible.  Along with Psalms and Proverbs, it is written to impart practical instruction for living a balanced life. 

We begin this morning with 1:1-9.  What a dark, cynical and pessimistic picture Solomon seems to create!  Is that how we are to view life?  If so, why bother getting an education or seeking to make changes for the better?  As Kansas sang, "Everything is dust in the wind."  Maybe we should simply "eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die."  Is that the message of this book?  No.

It's crucial  to grasp the purpose and style of this book if we are to understand it.  Ecclesiastes is filled with hyperbole (a form of exaggeration).  Its main objective is to have us understand how pointless and futile life is when we leave out God.  Solomon is depicting in the first person one who has tried to live in the world without God.  Having tried all he can, he comes to a place of recognizing that at best, his contributions to the world are limited and temporal.  While the message at times can be overly depressing and dark, its intention is not to discourage us but to dissuade us from the folly of thinking of ourselves as the center and answer to all of life.

I would suggest that we understand this passage in light of Jesus' words about not making the cares of this world our first priority, where thieves break in to steal and rust corrodes our hopes.  Instead we are to seek first the spiritual and the Kingdom of God. 

F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" is a parody of this very truth that all is futile and temporal.  The title character had everything, and yet ultimately lost all.  Only with God can our purpose and destiny be secure and fulfilling.

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