Text: Ecclesiastes 1:14 – 2:11
Solomon reviewed his plan and how he was going to approach his search for purpose in life. After discussing his purpose we note three things that immediately caught his attention: Prestigious Institutions, Pleasurable Experiences, and Private Estates.
I. Proposed course of action. Ecclesiastes 1:14-16
Solomon’s desire was to discover the way for mankind to live in peace and happiness in himself and with others. He witnessed man’s frustrations daily as they sought to accomplish the impossible. Solomon described attempts as trying to –
A. Straighten the thing that is crooked.
B. Sum that which is unknown. It is impossible to add unknown quantities, yet man sets himself to know the unknown.
Continuing with the theme we set forth in the introduction, traveling the highway of life, we will describe what Solomon saw and how he determined to use his wisdom to gain knowledge and then through that knowledge, apply wisdom which would result, he believed, in having peace and happiness.
He looked first to –
II. Prestigious institutions – higher learning, research and development. Ecclesiastes 1:17,18
A. He sought answers through knowledge – academic achievement. 1:17a
He concluded that knowledge is a wonderful thing, and that used wisely could be a great benefit to people, but in itself, it does not satisfy. Notice the words he used: vexation of spirit, grief, sorrow. These words do not portray peace or happiness. Knowledge is wonderful, but we must know that it reveals to us how much we do not know and how much there is still to learn. The goals that are reached are temporary, like arriving at a point on the horizon and then looking beyond, another horizon is in sight and we begin our journey toward it. Grief and sorrow are the results unless wisdom and knowledge are based in Godly contentment in our hearts.
Failing to find the answers-
B. He sought, as so many others do in the universities of the world, answers through rebellious activities. 1:17b,18
If those of the past had no answers, then everything from the past must be challenged. Many of the rebellions against society have been born in the institutions of higher learning. Again, this was vanity.
Disappointed with this discovery, Solomon turned to –
III. Pleasurable experiences – what we might call today an integrated resort. Ecclesiastes 2:1-3
It is interesting to note that as Solomon stated “There is nothing new under the sun…”, these new titles simply described old practices. People are looking for relief from their ordinary experiences in life, they are looking for happiness and believe they may find it here. He checked in and sought answers in –
A. Entertainment Ecclesiastes 2:1,2
1. He sought relief in the comedy club, listening to all of the jokes and stories. “mirth”
2. He sought relief in the shows which fed his lustful thoughts. “pleasure”
3. He sought for relief, but found no satisfaction. All that he experienced was a few hours of diversion which did not bring him any peace or happiness. 2:2
B. Escape through wine and strong drink. Ecclesiastes 2:3
He determined to continue his search for the source of happiness, but would relieve himself from the stress of his investigation through drinking.
The term ‘happy hour’ has been traced to a number of sources without any conclusive statement as to when it actually began.
If you want my opinion, it has always been and Solomon spoke of it much in the same context as those of today –
One investigation came up with this conclusion – “Eventually, the ideas merged, and people began using the phrase frequently to refer to a jolly time had when drinking with friends during the late-afternoon and early-evening hours.
It only makes sense that such a time would be revered. You’ve just completed a hard day’s work and aren’t quite ready to head home or to weigh yourself down with a meal. But you need to shake off the day and kick up those heels. What can possibly be better than going into the perfect establishment to partake of cocktails and convivial chatter?”
Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
Realizing that he had not found the answer to his quest in these things, he turned to solitude through –
IV. Private estates. The attempt to re-create an Eden for himself – the perfect environment. Ecclesiastes 2:4-11
Notice in these few verses how many times Solomon referred to himself. All of this work was for his benefit. He was going to be Adam in his own creation of the Garden of Eden. Creating it according to his own plan and having dominion through his own power.
People are seeking peace and happiness today through protection and privacy from the world. We know that we can live more securely in a private estate, but is peace and happiness only available for those that have the opportunity to live in these places. Are the billions of people who will never be able to live in this kind of estate denied any possibility of happiness?
Solomon’s conclusion was that none of these searches gave him the solution that he was seeking. None of the places he tried brought him peace. The advertisements promised great things, but none of them were true.
Again, Solomon has posted warning signs that will help us to know that what we are seeking is not found in any of these things. Joy, peace, and happiness are from God, not from those things of the world.
Are you trusting in the Lord today?