First and foremost let me say this, the following material is not to be taken in the standard "Christian Idea" and the standard ways those ideas are applied. I myself have absolutly no problem with Christian belief. However, I do ask that you do not turn this thread into one giant religion bashing. The way that the topic I am going to post is supposed to be interpreted is in a practical, everyday, and intellectual way. I am not trying to push the idea of ne certain higher power so come into this reading with the thought process of applying these scriptures from the Bible to yourself as an individual. Because even if u totally discredit the Bible, it still has good advice...
The book of Ecclesiastes seems to start off with only rants, raves, and delusions of a mad man, but the line between genius (in this case wisdom) and insanity can indeed be very thin.
First, let us look at some of the things that King Solomon deemed useless.
Ecclesiastes Chapter 1: Verses 1- 11
1 The words of the Teacher, [a] son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 "Meaningless! Meaningless!"
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless."
3 What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
"Look! This is something new"?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
11 There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow.
Now, stop and consider these verses in which Solomon is talking about how everything is totally and utterly meaningless. How our world just seems to constantly repeat in monotonous cycles of nature, forgetfulness, and the delusion of new ideas. It is Solomon now saying all of this stuff, but why? The craziest part, is that he goes on even further saying that even wisdom is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes Chapter 1: Verses 12-18
12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
15 What is twisted cannot be straightened;
what is lacking cannot be counted.
16 I thought to myself, "Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge." 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.
18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.
Solomon, the man who had asked God to bestow upon him this wisdom is now calling it meaningless! Is this not blasphemy? Solomon goes on to say that pleasure is meaningless as well. He tried cheering himself with wine, built many great buildings, and did not deny himself anything that his eye beheld, but after all this, he still came to one conclusion:
Ecclesiastes Chapter 2: 11
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
It would seem that as the life of Solomon went on, that he began to appreciate the things that God had given him less and less. To him a sense of hating life begun to grow inside of him once he realized that it was all meaningless, simply a chasing after the wind.
Solomon even says this about his wisdom:
Ecclesiastes 2: Verse 16
16 For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
in days to come both will be forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise man too must die!
However, despite these seemingly negative words, emotions, and loss in belief that Solomon expresses in the first chapter of Ecclesiastes is to simply make us think. Maybe the first two chapters are meant to show us that even to the wisest man, the things of this world are useless. The meaninglessness of everything, wisdom, pleasure, wisdom/folly, and toil are totally and utterly worthless to us! Just stop and consider the verses, nothing is new, nowhere to explore! Even the wise must die at some point like even the fool! It is all just like chasing after the wind, going after and trying to see, catch, and completely harness it but with it being impossible to do so.
By now, you all probably think Solomon was more insane than wise, but I am here to reassure you, it was not insanity that he was writing within this book. Maybe, just maybe, Solomon really did have a true grip on what wisdom was. After all of his own indulgence, flaws, and life lessons, maybe he did pick up on something that our conventionally wisdom cannot. The thing that he picked up on, is the fact that everything is indeed meaningless because we do none of these things that have meaning to us on our own time, but on God?s.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1- 14
A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What does the worker gain from his toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil?this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.
15 Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account. [a]
16 And I saw something else under the sun:
In the place of judgment?wickedness was there,
in the place of justice?wickedness was there.
17 I thought in my heart,
"God will bring to judgment
both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
a time for every deed."
18 I also thought, "As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath ; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal [c] goes down into the earth?"
22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?
To me personally, this is some very beautiful poetry inspired by God and put to paper by Solomon. In these verses he mentions in one way or another almost everything that he had previously called meaningless, but says that there is a time for them. If they are truly meaningless though, how can they have a time, how can there be a time for everything?
Eccl Chapter 3: 11-14
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil?this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.
Solomon goes on to add meaning back into the world by saying that He, and that He in this case being God made everything beautiful in its own time. How do we know what a day is like to go? Like the verse says, He is the one who set eternity in our hearts and we cannot begin to imagine all of the things that He has done. Solomon also goes on to proclaim that even in all of our toil, that this is a gift from God, and that everything God does will endure for all eternity. Everything is meaningless to us because we lack the wisdom to see the true purpose behind it all, God does not give us all of these things simply to find fulfillment within them, He gives them to us to add to our adoration and worship of Him.
And as for everything being meaningless in death, as to whether or not humans and animals await the same fate with their death, wisdom lies even in those verses. We cannot see the things that happen to us after our death. Our spirits are not going to return to see what has happened after us. However, I believe the wisdom that Solomon is trying to get across here is the wisdom that comes simply in fate. Wisdom in the will, purpose, and timing of God gives us all meaning, in this life, and within the next.