1 These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem.
The author of this book has traditionally been assumed to be King Solomon — ironically, the man who had everything.
Everything Is Meaningless
2“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” 3 What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?
Mark 8:36 (NLT)
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?
4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. 6 The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. 7 Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. 8 Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.
The Teacher is not alone in these thoughts:
“We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.”
–Playwright Tennessee Williams
“Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.”
–Author George Orwell
9 History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10 Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. 11 We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.
These are our questions!
How do I find meaning in life? History is boring and irrelevant to my present-day existence. If I work hard, there is no guarantee of success or even pleasure. Work, work, work, and the work is never done. I don’t like to think about death, but that is the only thing in my life I can be sure of! It all seems so pointless . . .
The Teacher Speaks: The Futility of Wisdom
12 I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. 13 I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. 14I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind. 15 What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered.
He is frustrated and despairing when he cannot make sense of his life.
16 I said to myself, “Look, I am wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I have greater wisdom and knowledge than any of them.” 17 So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind.
18 The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief.
To increase knowledge only increases sorrow.
There may be nothing new under the sun; but thankfully the followers of Jesus – those born again by God’s Spirit – don’t live under the sun in that sense. Their life is filled with new things.
- A new name (Isaiah 62:2, Revelation 2:17)
- A new community (Ephesians 2:14)
- A new help from angels (Psalm 91:11)
- A new commandment (John 13:34)
- A new covenant (Jeremiah 31:33, Matthew 26:28)
- A new and living way to heaven (Hebrews 10:20)
- A new purity (1 Corinthians 5:7)
- A new nature (Ephesians 4:24)
- A new creation in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)
- All things become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17, Revelation 21:5)
I don’t want a meaningless life! “Lord, I offer my life to you,” by Don Moen, tells us HERE that only through Christ will we find eternal meaning and value in our lives.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.