I really enjoy reading and studying the Old Testament. Now I realize many people say the Old Testament no longer has any validity in today’s world. They say that once Jesus was born there was no longer any reason to read and study the Old Testament. But I disagree with that point of view.
Jesus grew up with the writings of the Old Testament. The Old Testament was Jesus’ history, his background, his inspiration for all that He taught.
If this Bible is truly the inspired word of God and God himself inspired the writers of this Bible to include the teachings of the Old Testament, then that is enough for me to realize how important the Old Testament is, even in today’s world.
This morning I’d like to begin a journey through Ecclesiastes. We will conclude the journey next Sunday.
Today’s sermon is titled “A Life Worth Living”. We are going to be learning about a man who tried to live life to the fullest. This man’s name was Solomon.
In order to give you a little background on Solomon I’d like us to look at
1 Kings 2:1-4 “When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. 2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, 3 and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go 4 and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’
In this scripture text we see how David stressed to Solomon the importance for making God the center of both his own personal life and the government in order to preserve the kingdom as God had promised to do.
David died at the age of 70 and Solomon began to fulfill his duties as King. Now at this time Solomon was about 21 years old.
We learn in 1 Kings that Solomon went to a place called Gibeon to offer sacrifices.
1 Kings 3:4-5
4 The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Now let’s just stop reading here for a moment. I want you to imagine you are 21 years old right now. And yes, I know for some of us it is a bigger stretch of the imagination than for others. But if you were 21 years old and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” What do you think you would ask for? Well lets take a look at what happened.
1 Kings 3:6-15
6 Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
7 “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” 15 Then Solomon awoke and he realized it had been a dream.
So this gives us a background of Solomon’s life. Now let’s just for a moment fast forward as Solomon nears the end of his life. What sort of a life do you think Solomon had?
After the word we just read wouldn’t you expect that Solomon had a full and enjoyable life?
Well as Solomon neared the end of his life he decided to write a book of his memoirs. And that is the book of the Bible that we call Ecclesiastes.
Ecclesiastes is a reflection of Solomon’s life experiences and the lessons he learned.
As far as governing the nation, Solomon was wise but in his own personal life he was very foolish. Now right now you may be saying to yourself, “Well if God made Solomon wiser than any other person who had ever lived and any who would ever live in the future, why would he make poor choices in his own personal life?
Here is the Key.
Wisdom if both the ability to discern what is best…AND the strength of character to act upon that knowledge.
While Solomon remained wise all his life, he did not always act upon his wisdom.
One of the things that truly amazed me as I was reading through Ecclesiastes was that the world that Solomon lived in 3000 years ago was very much like the world we live in today.
There was injustice toward the poor, cooked government officials, people who committed terrible crimes, materialism and yes, even then 3000 years ago there were people who longed for the “Good Old Days.”
Solomon began his reign as a humble servant of God, but as he grew older, his heart turned away from God. As Solomon looked back on his entire life he should have been overjoyed because he had accomplished a lot in his life.
He was king over Israel. He had built great buildings. H accumulated great wealth. He lived his life to the absolute fullest. So from an earthly point of view he was a great success. He had it all! And yet, now as an old man soon to stare death in the face, he realizes how meaningless his life has been.
Solomon begins Ecclesiastes with these words:
1The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: 2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
These are the words of Solomon, the one person in the Bible who by worldly standards had it all. And here, Solomon is warning us of the ultimate emptiness of all that the world has to offer.
His purpose in writing this book is to make us realize the futility of relying on their own efforts and abilities. He is revealing to us all that our commitment to God is the only way we will be fully satisfied in life.
Let’s look again at Ecclesiastes 1:2
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
In Hebrew if a word is repeated even once, its repeated for added emphasis. Here in this one passage alone he mentions the word meaningless 4 times. Does that give you any idea of the frustration Solomon felt with himself and the choices he had made in his life? (Just as a sidebar, Solomon repeats that same statement in every chapter in the book of Ecclesiastes except for two.)
He wants to spare us the heartache of having to go through what he went through.
A lot of people, including you and I , are looking for a life filled with satisfaction and fulfillment. We spend too much time looking in the wrong places.
I am positive there are people in your family, in your neighborhood, and in your workplace that are looking for fulfillment and satisfaction in their lives. They are looking for God and they don’t know it. Their lives are meaningless, utterly meaningless and empty just as Solomon’s life was.
Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes is referred to as, “The Teacher, Son of David, King of Jerusalem.”
There is another “Teacher” (Rabbi) in scripture who is referred to as son of David and King in Jerusalem and everywhere else. His name is Jesus. He is the One who will fill our hearts and lives with meaning and fulfillment.
Will you share Jesus with those around you this week? Will you live your own life differently knowing that Jesus will not just give you what you ask for but He will give you sooo much more.
In the words of David from Psalm 34:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart!
Let us pray:
Lord, we thank you so much for the words of Solomon as he tries to save us from making the same poor choices he made in his life. Please give us the ability to discern what is best and the character to act upon that knowledge. Help us to realize that without God all that life has to offer is meaningless but when we delight ourselves in the Lord, you give us the desires of our heart. Help each of us to be committed to following your ways and to lead others to you so their lives will also be full of meaning and satisfaction. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen