Life Is Meaningless. Solomon on Vanity.

June 18, 2008

Psalm 39:5: “Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!”

Psalm 94:11: “He who teaches man knowledge – the Lord – knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.”

Psalm 144:4: “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”

Ecclesiastes 2:17: “So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.” 12:8: “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.”

In these verses, the word “breath” and “vanity” is translating the same Hebrew word. It literally means “breath”, but carries the idea of something that is empty, without meaning, worthless, futile. (The NIV translates the word as “meaningless”, rather than as “vanity”). In Ecclesiastes, we find Solomon suffering from utter despair. “Everything is meaningless!” he cries out. Yet, Solomon has it all – wealth, fame, power, wisdom, women. All meaningless, he says.

The book of Ecclesiastes closes with this: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” There you have it. Our whole duty is to “fear God” (that is, to honor, revere, be in awe of God) and to keep his commandments.

Life finds meaning only in God. Lately, I’ve been feeling like Solomon apparently did. I feel like so much of my energy is spent “striving after wind”. Sometimes, we fear heaven will be boring, but right now, being in constant amazement of God sounds downright delightful!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Life is meaningless, but rejoice! How are we to have joyful hearts when life is meaningless? Give it meaning! How? By worshiping God through continuous prayer and giving of thanks. Let us delight ourselves in our great God!


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