I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
Solomon has confided to us in the previous verses that life is short, elusive, meaningless, and wearisome. He traced the monotonous pattern of the sun rising, going down, and returning, out of breath, to the place it rises (1:5). He observed that the sea is never satisfied (1:7), all things are full of weariness (1:8), and there is nothing new under the sun (1:9). But Solomon was not done trying to find something that would ultimately deliver happiness to the human heart.
Solomon decided to do some research. He was the king, so nothing was off-limits. And he had been given the great gift of wisdom (1 Kings 4:29), so he had the mental capacity to discern how people went about their day to find meaning and purpose. But as he observed humanity and their busy pace, he found that just like the sun chased its tail, so people chased theirs. Things “done under heaven” become the same ole same ole. We just keep running on the “treadmill of our existence.” ¹
Solomon’s wisdom allowed him to observe the wearisome existence of man. What does your wisdom enable you to see personally? What occupies your time? Your thoughts? Is your work viewed as a gift from God or an idol? Does your busyness keep you from the most important things—like spending time with God, nourishing your marriage, nurturing your children? Are you so busy that you don’t have time to develop meaningful relationships?
Life “done under heaven” often becomes the “unhappy business” of busyness. Life “under heaven” is futile unless we have a “from heaven” perspective. Only a view from the eternal allows us to live wisely. Without an eternal view, life continues on the “treadmill of existence.” We live worn out without making progress.
Father, lift my head and give me an above heaven perspective. Help me to see life with an eternal view. Help me not waste the fleeting years on things that don’t count in the long run. Help me get off the treadmill and get on with the race that matters. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
¹ Quote from Philip Ryken, Why Everything Matters: The Gospel in Ecclesiastes, 9.
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