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June 16, 2023 - Ecclesiastes 1-4

There seem to be two extremes to which we lean, both of which are idolatrous in their natures. Some will worship science and progress and believe that man, as the ultimate being, can control his own environment and destiny. The other extreme picks up on the fact, as Solomon notes, that everything is a vapor or mist, pushing toward this notion to an extreme (no absolute truth, no real meaning, etc.). Neither of these extremes is the view of Solomon.

Both of these extremes are found throughout history. We either tend to think that we are slaves to our surroundings or that we have come up with something new. Solomon declares, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new?’ It has been already in the ages before us” (1:9-10). Thus, the idolatry of our age (“We are the masters of our own fate!”) has been seen before; in fact, as far back as the beginning, our first parents rejected God and his direction, believing that they could just do whatever they wished and set their own path. Though it appears that Solomon must reach a most disconcerting conclusion – “I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind” (1:14-15) – in the end, he concludes that the person who is truly blessed is the person who acknowledges God, listens to him, and obeys him, that is, the person who fears God. Isaac Watts captures well the godly desire to know God and to be satisfied in him alone.

The brightest things below the sky

Give but a flattering light;

We should suspect some danger nigh

Where we possess delight.

My Saviour, let thy beauties be

My soul's eternal food;

And grace command my heart away

From all created good. –Isaac Watts (1766)

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