Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Chasing after the Wind (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11)

"I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure" (Eccl. 2:10).

Perhaps the whole history of mankind does not furnish a more vivid picture of the vanity of earthly greatness than the Preacher’s experience. He denied himself no pleasure, yet his life was barren. He seemed to be “possessing all things;” yet in reality “having nothing.” God employed the Preacher to teach us from his own experience. He therefore poured upon the Preacher a full confluence of earthly happiness. God did this so that he might see, and prove, the utter insufficiency of earthly satisfaction. All his hard work, social and political exploits, artistic pursuits, accumulation of power—all expose the vanity of living under the sun.

Solomon built palisades of splendor and commissioned glorious works of art. He established a vast household of servants and concubines—all hired to give him maximum pleasure and comfort. His great wealth was the envy of nations. His courts would have made the monuments of Pharaoh pale in comparison. He designed extravagant gardens that captivated the world with wonder. He denied himself nothing and refused his heart no pleasure. Solomon pushed the boundaries both in work and play. But like his pursuit of knowledge, his great wealth, his unsurpassed achievements, and his hedonistic lifestyle slipped through his fingers like water. “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done … and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.”

“Mistake not, then, the glare of this world’s glory for solid happiness,” Bridges reminds us. “God would have us rejoice in our labor—enjoy our earthly blessings, but not rest in them—‘Rejoice, as though we rejoiced not.’ A momentary pleasure is all that can be looked for. Let earth be the cistern only, not the fountain. Let its best blessings be loved after Him—for Him—as the sunbeam of His love. Let nothing of earth be our rest—God never intended so poor a portion for His redeemed ones. Our rest is built upon unchangeable promises. Meanwhile, the real joy is when God is the center, and the Savior is to us ‘the treasure and the key of all the good things of God.’ What were the pleasures of Solomon’s earthly paradise compared with the unspeakable delight of ‘eating of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God!’ (Rev. 2:7).

Walk through your house. What possessions mean the most to you and why? Is there anything you possess that you could not imagine living without? Everything that you see before you will one day be gone. As you look at your possessions, remind yourself of this about each one. Then say, “Only God is my portion.”