Today I take a sidetrack from the Book of Mormon and read from the books of Solomon. Solomon is credited with three books from the Old Testament: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Psalms. All were very poetic in their verse.
How I read it:
- 1. I read it through one (two) times.
- 2. I went back and thought deeply about certain verses that jumped out at me and I asked questions?
- 3. I tried to imagine that I was the author. Why would I say what I said this way? What was his mood? (Somber) What was his intention?
- 4. I tried to remember something about Solomon to help me. What I couldn’t remember I looked up.
- 5. Finally, I was able to pull from it what was pertinent to me.
Life can be hopeless, if you let it. Wisdom comes to those who seek it, and when we find the knowledge needed to make us wise, it often brings us sadness. Why? Because, true wisdom does not come from knowledge (alone) of this earth which is cyclical, repetitive, and predictable. It is not until you add the element of God’s spirit into your life do you find something that will lift you above the mundane. Something that is able to help you make choices based not on pattern, but on truth that comes from an eternal source.
What is the difference in wisdom and profit? Why was Solomon bemoaning the fact that he could not have any real profit from doing his earthly labor? How you think Solomon saw profit? Did he include wisdom in his equation of profit? Wisdom is knowledge + spirit. Wisdom is knowledge + experience. Without a touch of experience to season our knowledge, knowledge is a valuable as vanity. Without the spirit to season our knowledge it brings us little gain. When you think of it this way, you can find a new understanding of Solomon’s words.
I have known quite a few older people in my life. I watch these older people. Why? Because I want to see if they have found the secret of life, or are they tired, lonely and angry. The ones that are happy, really happy with a smile that burns through to your soul, are the ones that have kept a higher law. They are not shy about telling you so. They have an energy about them that draws you to them. And when you are around them, you feel alive, full of hope and you begin to cultivate a desire to have wisdom. I think that we have a choice in life to choose to be a battery charger or a battery drainer. When we choose God, we become a charger.
I once met an older man at a social gathering. When his son introduced me to him, it was like plugging into a battery charger. He was in his late 80’s, but carried the demeanor of a much younger man. His smile spoke volumes about his faith. I knew from knowing his son that he (my friends father) was a man of great faith, but I didn’t have to be told that. His faith was apparent in his aura, in the way he treated others, in his smile and his consideration for others. He was happy! No he was full of joy! Happy comes from earthly experience, Joy comes from God.
When we get our energy from something “above the sun”, when we find our wisdom from keeping God’s commandments we forego the frustrations of life. We forego the difficulties and the seemingly endless cycles of life that “run into the sea” and “return again”.
You can read this with a touch of pessimism as many have, or you can read the first chapter of Ecclesiastes with a touch of optimism. It does get rather boorish listening to Solomon recount the reasons that life without the spirit does not bring profit, but I believe he is trying to emphasis these points so that he can help us understand where exactly our focus should be if we want to have true profit from our lives.
(Words and Phrases)
Vs 2 Vanity.. all is vanity. Vanity: worthless, pride, narcissistic, egotism. Basically anything that you can't take with you when you die.
Vs 3 What profit our work for this life? When we die do people really remember what we did or didn’t do to make a living? I have done a great deal of genealogy work and discovered that when we die we are most remembered for whom we lived with, where we lived, and the families that we bore. Sadly, we are also often remembered for the “skeletons” we create. The best way to be remembered in this life is to be kind. To be forgiving. To love another human being. When we become too caught up in our work, in ourselves, in our vanities… then we become part of the life cycles that never end, and never change. We must live a higher law.
Vs. 4 One generation passeth away.. another cometh. The families of man are born. They die. And the earth on which we live abides.
Vs. 5 A day.. a cycle in the time we have here on earth. A small circle of time in the larger span of time in our existence here.
Vs. 6 according to its circuits – even the wind has its patterns. Meteorologist know the patterns of wind. They are daily, seasonal, and patterned. Forever
Vs 7 all the rivers. – the cycle of water it comes from the rivers, to the sea, and back again. It is a never-ending cycle of moving water.
Vs 8 full of labor – No matter what man does for his labor, he will never be satisfied. There is not contentment in a world where the cycles of life are never ending.
Vs 9 no new thing - Elements. We are made of elements. The world within which we live is made of elements. There is no new thing. It just all gets transferred from one phase of the cycle to the other.
EXCEPT WHEN we show kindness, show love. This is new. To the soul that receives it, it is new. Spiritual truths, spiritual gifts, spiritual kindness always brings newness. New ideas, renewed hope, understanding. When the spirit has gone out of us, when we loose hope then we are merely elements awaiting our cycle to turn its course.
Vs 11 no remembrance of former things – I believe this is a reference to the veil. We cannot remember our lives before. When we are on this earth, we must be content with the elements that exist. We cannot know what is to come (after this life)
Vs 13. I GAVE MY HEART TO SEEK AND SEarCH OUT BY WISDOM -
Enough said. Give your heart to know wisdom. Wisdom comes from God.
Vs 14vexation of spirit – Solomon is frustrated because he wants more. He was the king over Israel. He does not understand the prophets, the hope the promise. Or if he does he still wants more and God will not give it to him.
Vs. 18 he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow – knowledge alone will not bring us joy or lift up our spirit. Knowledge used for vanity brings sorrow. At the end of the book Solomon will tell us that knowledge used for service of God brings joy
As I read this first chapter of Ecclesiastes, I was reminded to consider that a life lived for oneself is vanity. Vanity is worthless and meaningless. There can be little joy in labor that does not serve a higher purpose.
But wisdom can be found within the cycle of life. It comes in keeping God's commandments and learning to understand God's ways.
One of the greatest gems I received today was the realization that the spirit of giving renews us all. We all have a spirit of goodness within us. We all have a spirit of God. We can choose to ignore it and live a life of drudgery, or we can choose to embrace it and help bring a new spirit to those we meet, we work with, to those we love. We can do this by giving our heart to search out wisdom.