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Making the Most of the Time You Have Left
Solomon, it would seem, was in the middle of a spiritual mid-life crisis. When he was young, he ran after God with reckless abandon and God blessed him with wealth and wisdom beyond compare. And what did Solomon do with all God had given him? He took it for granted, made unbelievably bad decisions about the things God clearly talked about in Scripture, and followed his own heart and forsook the wisdom of God. He began to believe his own press releases and followed the ways of the world and not of God. He did not finish his race (life) well.
And we know how that turned out. Disaster, with a capital D.
So now he is older, set in his ways, and longing for the intimacy he once had with God, but refusing to repent and return to Him. He wanted the blessings on his terms, but not the obedience, which is always God’s terms. He longed for God’s hand of blessing, but not His face. Solomon was in an awful place spiritually, one of his own making. And because he refused the cure for his spiritual illness, he sank into depression.
You can see the tragic fall of this great man in the opening chapters of Ecclesiastes. Solomon views all of life as meaningless, or “vanity” (Eccles. 1:2). He doesn’t see any value in anything he has done, or is doing (Eccles. 1:3). And what he longed for the most in life, permanence, purpose, and meaning, seemed just out of reach. How sad.
What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? – Ecclesiastes 1:3.
It was like he was saying, “What is the purpose of life? Why am I doing what I am doing? Is this all there is? Does life have any meaning other than survival? Is there more to life than food, clothing, shelter, money and the stuff money can buy? And if so, what is it? Is the world better because I was born? Or am I just taking up space, meaning nothing? Is it true that everything is vanity, pure meaningless? Is all that I know and love and have experienced in this life really worth nothing? And if so (and I hope not), what does it profit me, or anyone for that matter, from all the weariness of life that we toil with while we are still alive?”
Can you feel his pain? I sure can. But he brought it all upon himself and he refuses to make it better.
Talk about stubbornness.
Move Forward, Not Backwards
Solomon, at any time, could have confessed his sins to the Lord and experienced, once again, the wisdom of God that defined his life as a young man. He could have, like the Lord said to the church at Ephesus, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works” (Rev. 2:5). Or, “Go back and do the things you did when life was good, when We spoke, and when others praised you for how you imitated Me.”
But of course, like many believers today, Solomon didn’t. His pride wouldn’t let him. The cost was too high. After all, he was now living independently of God and was proud of what he had accomplished, or so he kept telling himself. But truthfully, his life left him dry and unfulfilled, and he felt like he was just biding time and taking up space.
You can see all of this in the questions and reflections Solomon asks in the first chapter of this book. Some of what he says is quite telling of what kind of man he had become.
That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun – Ecclesiastes 1:9.
Geez, if I felt like that, I would have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. So Solomon decides to fill his life with everything his heart could ever want. He is trying to find happiness and contentment without God. Notice how that turns out. And notice how many times he talks about what he (“I”) have done.
I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds. So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom (human, not God’s) remained with me. Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my reward from all my labor – Ecclesiastes 2:4-10.
So what did you discover, Solomon? How did that work out for you?
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun – Ecclesiastes 2:11.
Do you want to end up like Solomon? I didn’t think so. So keep listening and let’s learn how to not be like Him.