Ecclesiastes P3: Meaningless Pleasures?

img_0499“Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
For my heart rejoiced in all my labour;
And this was my reward from all my labour.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labour in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun.”
[Ecclesiastes 2:10-11]

King over Israel, Solomon had all kinds of pleasure at his fingertips – he celebrated with wine, enjoyed success with vineyards and orchards, had gold, silver, and a large household of servants. He was wise and commended for his knowledge, he saw treasures from across the provinces, and listened to all kinds of music. Despite all this, Solomon concludes that enjoyment of this pleasure is also vanity, something that would not last.

When we look at the pleasures Solomon describes, we find it is not all too different from what we seem to chase after today.

  • Wine and dining
  • Success in our work
  • Financial prosperity
  • Abundance of possessions
  • Friends
  • Music
  • Travelling
  • Being praised by others

All these things are good and they give us gladness for a time, but it does not last. We grow old, we suffer a loss, we lose our physical and mental ability to do the things we once could. Loneliness sets in, a longing for what we once had. Pleasures give gladness but only momentarily. They lead us on a chase that always requires more, always asks us to arrange another dinner, another overseas trip, buy another instrument, enter another competition. There is no peace in this, but it is a pursuit that never resolves.

What is first in our lives?
What are we pursuing?

Pleasures give gladness for a moment but in God, we rejoice for eternity. Solomon, even knowing all this, was addicted to pleasure. He had many wives, great treasure, built many cities and won many battles. Towards the later years of his reign, these things turned his heart from the Lord so that God said to Solomon,

“… Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant…” – [1 Kings 11:11]

We can choose to put our own pleasure ahead of following God, but such a choice has consequences. We can choose to build our own kingdom before building God’s, but ours will not last.

What is first in our lives?
What are we pursuing?

A s   G o d   h a s   a l r e a d y   c o m m a n d e d    u s ,
l e t   u s   s e e k   f i r s t   H i s   k i n g d o m .

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