This is an ongoing study, so if you have missed our meeting, be sure and read from the beginning of these posts looking for the study of Ecclesiastics.
When God Ran (prodigal son)
This lesson is a continence of our first lesson. We started the study of Ecclesiastics and will continue through the entire book. If you are just joining us in this study, be sure to read the lesson prior so you are not lost in the reading.
Dear Lord, thank for this day and the meeting we had today ...
thanks for your love and forgiveness of sins ...
please help us and let us understand you and your word more and more ...
thanks for transforming our hearts more and more ...
Verses 4-11 are a poem that describes history. Nothing in human history and nothing in nature moves forward. Things always seem to change. But they remain as they were. People are born and people die. But the earth, that they come from, never changes. The sun, the wind and the streams return again and again to where they begin. There is nothing new in people’s experience. Nobody in the future will remember people and events from the past.
Verse 5 In Psalm 19:4-5, the writer describes the sun, ‘like a bridegroom in his splendid clothes’. And here the writer describes that sun as he would describe a person. The sun ‘hurries’ back to where it started. The *Hebrew word ‘hurry’ refers to someone who is running. So the sun is like someone who is running. And he is struggling to breathe. The sun is eager to return to where it started. Or perhaps the writer thinks that the sun is tired. It must rise and it must go down again daily.
Verse 6 The wind seems to be free. It may blow where it chooses to blow (John 3:8). The Teacher thinks about the wind’s constant movement. It is always changing the place from where it blows. But it always comes back to its first direction.
Verse 7 Streams flow into the sea but they never manage to fill the sea. The streams continue to flow. Job spoke about water that comes from streams. Water comes from the clouds and it comes from the rain. Then it returns to the streams (Job 36:27). Water goes up from the sea as mist and it returns as rain.
Verse 8 Our senses are like the sea, which is never full. There is no end to what we can see. And there is no end to what we can hear. It is impossible to describe this tired person. He looks at the world that God created. After God had made Adam and Eve they did not obey him (Genesis 3:17-19). Then God said that they will have troubles because of their wicked deeds.
Verses 9-11 Everything that existed in the past will continue to exist. People will continue to do everything that they have done before. The Teacher is describing events to us. They will happen in this way if we think about the world without God. Then nothing can change. This is different from what the *Israelites believed. They believed that God controls human history. God can change people and events. One example is Joseph. His brothers had intended to hurt him. But Joseph believed that God had a purpose for him. God intended him to save lives in Egypt (Genesis 50:20).
People often think that they have found new things. People may invent something that is new. But they use what God has created. And people soon forget what happened in the past. They do not remember people who lived before them. The word ‘people’ can also mean ‘things’. So people also forget things. And they forget events that were in the past. People always want something ‘new’.
A wise man cannot discover the purpose of his life if he just thinks about it – Ecclesiastes 1:12-18
v12 I am the Teacher. I have been king in the city called Jerusalem. And I ruled over the country called *Israel. v13 I decided to study everything that happens in the world. I tried to understand it. I searched as carefully as wise men search. God has made it very difficult for people. Nobody can search easily in this way. v14 But I have seen everything that people do in the world. And all of it has no value. It is impossible to discover what it means. It is like someone who tries to catch the wind.
v15 You cannot make something straight if it has a curve in it.
You cannot count something that is not there.
v16 I spoke to myself. ‘I have become wiser than anyone who has ruled in Jerusalem before me’, I thought. ‘I have learnt how to behave with wisdom. And I have learnt a lot of facts about the world.’ v17 Then I tried hard to understand what wisdom really is. And I wanted to know more about stupid people and their foolish behavior. So I tried to understand these things. But that was like somebody who was trying to catch the wind.
v18 You worry more when you become wiser.
You will suffer more when you understand more.
Verses 12-13 Here it seems that the Teacher was King Solomon. He decided that he would try to discover the purpose of our lives. He would think very carefully about people’s experience. He wanted to search for purpose, but it was very difficult. God has given a strong desire to everyone. They all want to discover the truth about why we live in this world. And God wants people to discover the truth. He is the only answer to the purpose of our lives. So people are not peaceful without God.
Verse 14 People cannot expect to control the wind. In the same way, they cannot expect to understand all that happens in the world.
Verse 15 The words say that people cannot do everything. Sometimes they cannot change their circumstances. People must realize that they cannot know everything.
Verse 16 The Teacher said that he had become very wise. He was wiser than the kings who had ruled before him. He knew a lot about wise behavior. He knew a lot of facts about the world. But he wanted to understand more. He wanted to be really wise all the time. And he wanted to understand what stupid behavior and foolish behavior meant. Although he searched carefully he was not successful. He felt like somebody who was trying to catch the wind. It was an impossible task.
Verse 18 When you know more about people and about situations, you will worry more. You will think about whether you should help to discover a solution to the problems. You will be sad because people suffer. And you will not always understand why some things go wrong.
The test to discover what makes a person happy – Ecclesiastes 2:1-11
v1 I spoke to myself. ‘OK,’ I said. ‘I will test those things that make a person happy. People think that those things are good. So I will try them.’ But even this did not provide any answers for me. v2 I realized that this was foolish. We must not think that we should laugh all the time. And there is no real benefit if we enjoy ourselves. v3 I drank a lot of wine to make myself happy. I even tried foolish activities. But wise thoughts were guiding me still. And I wanted to discover what is valuable in our lives. People cannot achieve a lot during their short lives on the earth.
v4 So I began some great plans. I built houses for myself. And I planted *vineyards. v5 I made beautiful gardens for myself and I planted all kinds of fruit trees. v6 I made pools for myself so that I could water the great number of healthy trees. v7 I bought male slaves and I bought female slaves. Also, I had other slaves who were born in my house. And I owned more cows and sheep and goats than anyone in Jerusalem had ever owned before me. v8 I collected large amounts of silver and gold for myself. Kings and rulers who came from foreign states brought silver, gold, and other precious things to me. And I obtained men and women who were singers. I had many wives and I owned other women as well. All of them were women who would seem pleasant to any man. v9 So I became much more important than anyone who had ever lived in Jerusalem. But in all these activities I did not lose my wise thoughts.
v10 I gave to myself everything that I wanted.
I did not refuse anything that made me happy.
I did everything with delight,
because I really enjoyed all my work.
v11 But then I thought a lot about what I had done.
I thought about all the things that I had worked so hard for.
And I discovered that nothing had a purpose.
I was like someone who was chasing the wind.
In this world, a person cannot gain anything that is valuable.
Verses 1-2 The Teacher decided to test himself. He wanted to learn what the purpose of his life was. So he made a decision that he would try to be happy. He tells us the result from his test before he gives the details of his experiment. He thinks in the end that no kind of fun satisfies people completely. Whatever he does, it disappoints him in the end. He felt like this because he did not think about God.
Verse 3 He drank wine. He tried other ‘foolish activities’ but he does not describe those activities. And he thought carefully about it all. He asked himself this question. What has real value for people during their life on the earth?
Verses 4-11 The words ‘for myself’ show that he was thinking only about himself. Like King Solomon, he lived in a wealthy and comfortable way.
Verse 4 The ‘houses’ here are like Solomon’s splendid buildings. (See 2 Chronicles 8:1-6.) The Teacher refers to ‘God’s house’ in Ecclesiastes 5:1-7. People put plants that are called vines in *vineyards. And these plants produce small fruit that are called grapes. Then people squeeze the grapes to get juice. Then they make wine from the juice.
Verse 5 Gardens belonged to important people. A person needed a lot of land where he could plant so many trees and plants.
Verse 6 There was a pool in Jerusalem called the ‘king’s pool’ (Nehemiah 2:14). Another writer thought that Solomon had made it.
Verse 7 The Teacher owned many slaves. This showed to everyone that he was wealthy. Every day Solomon needed enormous numbers of animals to provide the meals for his people. He had to feed all the people who lived in his palace (1 Kings 4:22-23).
Verse 8 King Solomon had great quantities of gold (1 Kings chapter 10). And silver was ‘as common as stone’ (1 Kings 10:27). Apart from his personal wealth, he also received gifts. And money came to him from taxes in foreign countries where he ruled. Singers provided music to please his guests at splendid meals. Many women belonged to him. They lived with him in addition to his real wives. Apart from his many wives, King Solomon had 300 other women who lived in his home (1 Kings 11:3).
Verse 9 The Teacher says that he was the most powerful person in Jerusalem. He was the most powerful person who had ever lived there. But he reminds his readers that he always continued to think wisely. He wanted to test and to discover why people live in this world. Everything that he did was for that reason.
Verses 10-11 The Teacher had done his experiment in a way that tested everything. He had wanted to enjoy everything. And he was happy with his work. He was interested in his work as he continued his plans. But then he thought about what he had achieved. He thought about all his hard work. Then he realized the truth. He had done it all to please himself. And this disappointed him. There is no permanent benefit if you search merely for your own happiness. It is impossible to discover the purpose of our lives. It is like someone who tries to catch the wind.
The results of wise behavior and of foolish behavior – Ecclesiastes 2:12-17
v12 So I started to think about behavior.
I thought about people who are wise.
And I thought about people who are mad or foolish.
A king can do only what previous kings have done.
v13 Then I realized that wise behavior is better than foolish behavior.
Wise behavior is like light,
and light is better than darkness.
v14 The wise man can see where he is going.
But the fool walks along in the dark.
Then I realized that they both end in the same way.
v15 And I thought to myself,
‘The things that happen to the fool will happen to me also.’
So I thought about what advantage my wisdom had given to me.
I said to myself, ‘This also is a question that has no answer.’
v16 People do not remember the wise man for a long time.
Also, they do not remember the fool for a long time.
In the future, people will forget both of them.
We will all die, whether we are wise people or foolish people!
v17 So I hated my life.
Everything in my life brought trouble to me.
My work was worth nothing.
It is like someone who is chasing the wind.
Verse 12 The Teacher thinks about whether future kings would examine the same problems. They should examine the problems as carefully as the Teacher had examined them.
Verses 13-14 He thinks in the end that wisdom has value. It is better to be wise. Light and darkness show the difference between good things and bad things. Wise people know what they should do. Foolish people are like someone who tries to travel in the dark. But at the end, the same thing happens both to wise people and to foolish people. They all die.
Verses 15-17 The Teacher thought about whether wise people have any advantage. A wise person dies and a fool dies. It was a puzzle. Everyone soon forgets both wise people and foolish people. So the Teacher thought in the end that there was no answer to these puzzles at this time. It was like someone who tries to catch the wind. But the Teacher will get nearer to the answer later.
Morning Bible Studies are held every Wednesday morning @ 11:00 am ET. Those studies will be posted her for those that missed the live study.
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