Living With Earth In the Rearview

Today’s selected reading is found in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, which was written by Solomon the son of David and king of Israel. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first six chapters of this Old Testament book. The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes is the second of three books which is attributed to Solomon the son of David, the king of Israel. The Old Testament book of Proverbs is a book that contains a number of wise sayings of Solomon, and is essentially a book that is intended on teaching and instructing the simple in the ways of the true and living God. If and as you read the Old Testament book of Proverbs you will essentially get the idea that it is a book that was written by one generation unto another generation in order that that next generation might not only seek after and obtain wisdom, but might also obtain knowledge, discretion, discerning, instruction and insight. The Old Testament book of Proverbs is a powerful investment of a father into the life of his son—and not only his son, but also those generations which would rise up after him. When you read the twenty-fifth chapter of the book of Proverbs you will find that chapters twenty-five through twenty-nine were those proverbs which were copied by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah who was also a son of David who sat upon the throne of David in the midst of Jerusalem. I happen to find a tremendous amount of significance in this particular reality, for if you study the life of Hezekiah you will notice that he was a man who walked in all the ways of his father David and who clave to the LORD. Hezekiah was a man who did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and one who walked in the ways of the LORD as detailed and outlined in the book of the Law of Moses. With this being said I am convinced that Hezekiah himself might very well have read the words which Solomon the son of David and king of Israel wrote within the book we have come to know and call the book of Proverbs. I would dare say that Hezekiah used the proverbs of Solomon to not only govern his own life, but also to govern the people of the southern kingdom of Judah. The more I consider the opening verse of the twenty-fifth chapter of the book of Proverbs, and the more I consider the narrative of Hezekiah king of the southern kingdom of Judah, the more I come face to face with the reality that he was a man who rightly and properly ruled and governed the nation and kingdom of Judah according to the ways, the wisdom and the word of God within his life. Undoubtedly, Hezekiah would have governed the people of the nation of the kingdom of Judah according to the words which were found in the book of the law of Moses—and not only the words which are found in the book of the law of Moses, but also according to the words which are found in the proverbs of Solomon.

I firmly believe that the book of Proverbs is not only meant to be an invitation to pursue wisdom, but it is also a book that is designed to bring the lives of men and women under the government of heaven. The more you read the words found within the book of Proverbs the more you will encounter and come face to face with the strong reality that it is a book that centers upon the pursuit of wisdom—a wisdom which is meant to govern, guide and guard the heart, the mind, the soul and the life of an individual who pursues wisdom. I am becoming increasingly convinced that the words which we find in the Old Testament book of Proverbs is a truly wonderful and powerful invitation of Solomon to seek after and pursue wisdom, and to allow wisdom to enter into one’s heart and life that it might bring the life of that individual under the government of heaven. This government is most readily seen and found in the Word of God with all its statutes, precepts, commands, decrees, and the tremendous instruction, warnings and caution that is found and contained therein. Through the book of Proverbs we encounter and come face to face with the truly wonderful reality that we are to seek after and pursue wisdom, and that wisdom guard our hearts, guards our minds, guards our tongue, and guards our lives before and in the sight of the living God. What’s more, is that wisdom—when it is sought after and found—must guide our steps and direct our paths in the way in which we should go. It is through wisdom that we understand the ways of God, and it is when we understand the ways of God we are able to walk in the way which pleases, honors and glorifies Him. With that being said, it is important that we recognize and understand that wisdom is more than simply an internal intellectual knowledge found within our hearts and minds. Wisdom is an inward reality that must have an external and outward manifestation within our lives, as it governs how we think, how we act, how we speak, how we do relationships, and how we walk in the midst of the culture, the generation and society in which we live. Wisdom—according to the book of Proverbs—is the chief pursuit and chief aim of the man or woman of God, and must be sought after above riches, above wealth, above possessions, above honor, and above all those other things which we would pursue within this life.

When you read and study the Old Testament book of Proverbs you will find that it was written by a man who was given an incredible invitation of the living and eternal God to ask of Him what he would. In Gibeon at the high place thereof the LORD appeared unto Solomon by dream during the night and invited him to ask of Him anything he would, and it would be in response to the LORD’s invitation Solomon would ask the LORD for a wise and discerning heart to be able to rightly and properly judge and govern the people of God. It should be worth noting that the request of Solomon pleased the LORD so much that not only would the LORD give him the desire of his heart—that of a wise and discerning heart—but because Solomon asked for wisdom above riches, above possessions, above honour, above long life, and above the necks of his enemies, the LORD would also add unto him all those things which he did not ask for. There is a truly powerful and incredible principle that is found within this particular narrative in the life of Solomon, for through the life of Solomon we see a truly wonderful and powerful picture of one who sought after the kingdom of God, and whose chief pursuit and chief desire was the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Solomon could have very easily asked for riches, he could have very easily asked for possessions, and for length of days, and for honor in the midst of the earth, and yet there was one thing he desired far above all of that. Solomon could have asked for the necks of his enemies, and yet there was something he desired more than all of those things which we might seek after in the natural. When Solomon was faced with this invitation from the LORD to ask of Him anything he would, Solomon chose to ask the LORD for wisdom—for a wise and discerning heart that he might rightly and properly govern the people of God in the midst of the earth. Solomon realized and recognized that he was but a young man, and that the task and assignment was too great for him, and that the one thing that would help him step into and fulfill that for which he had been called would be a wise and discerning heart. Pause and think about the fact that Solomon could have asked for absolutely anything, and yet that one thing Solomon asked for above everything else was wisdom—and not a wisdom that was of the earth and carnal in nature, but rather a wisdom that was from heaven and a wisdom that was from the very heart and mind of God. Oh, I can’t help but be reminded of two distinct passages which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints, as well as the words which our Lord spoke in the Sermon on the Mount concerning the pursuit of the kingdom of heaven. Consider if you will the following words which are found within the New Testament of our Bibles:

“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:17-31).

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take not thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the vowels of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take yet thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is c sat into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, what shall we drink? Or wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:24-34).

With these two passages we are not only confronted with a clear and present distinction between the wisdom of God as directly set against the wisdom of this world, but we are also confronted with the words of Jesus—words in which He instructed and invited us to seek first the kingdom of God, and to seek first the kingdom of God above everything else in this life. Jesus mentioned food, and clothing, and all those things which the Gentiles seek after, and yet He instructed and invited us to not seek after those things, but to seek after and seek first the kingdom of God. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for there is a wisdom that is of this world, and is earthly, natural and carnal in nature, and there is a wisdom that is of heaven—a wisdom that comes directly from the heart and mind of the living God. What’s more, is that through the Old Testament book of Proverbs we encounter the awesome reality that wisdom must be pursued and desired above riches, above possessions, above all those things the world places value on within the earth. It is wisdom which is of far greater worth and far greater value than rubies, and gold, and silver, and all the precious treasures which are found within the earth, for wisdom is of chief importance and chief value within the heart and life of a man or woman who desires to walk in the paths and the ways of God. This is important for us to recognize—not only because Jesus invited and instructed us to seek first the kingdom of heaven and the righteousness of God, but also because when Solomon was given the invitation to ask anything of God, he chose to ask for that one thing which he esteemed of greater worth and greater value than all the wealth in the world, and of greater worth and value than any possession which could be had in this life. Solomon viewed wisdom as being of greater worth and greater value than length of days and long life, as well as even honor and glory in the sight of men. It’s important to note that the LORD was so pleased with the request of Solomon that He granted his desire and request for wisdom—and because he chose to make wisdom his chief desire and his chief pursuit, the LORD would add unto him all those things which he didn’t ask for. The LORD would add unto Solomon wealth, and He would add possessions, and He would give Solomon honor, and all those things which other kings and men might ask for.

Speaking to these things which Solomon was given—those things which he didn’t ask for in the sight and presence of the LORD, and which the LORD gave unto him anyway—we find that they were the basis and foundation of the book of Ecclesiastes. In all reality, I am absolutely and completely convinced that in order for us to understand the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we not only understand the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Proverbs, but we must also understand the words which are found in the books of First Kings and Second Chronicles concerning the LORD’s appearing unto Solomon. We know from the books of First Kings and Second Chronicles that the LORD invited Solomon to ask of Him anything he would, and that Solomon chose to ask the LORD for wisdom and understanding that he might rightly and properly govern the people of God. We also know that because Solomon asked the LORD for wisdom and understanding above all those other things which other kings and which men might ask for, the LORD would grant unto him all those things which he didn’t ask for. It’s important that we recognize and understand this reality, for when you come to the tenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings, as well as the ninth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Chronicles you will get a true glimpse and picture into what this looked like within the life of Solomon. It is within these chapters where you will essentially find the foundation for what we read in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, for the book of Ecclesiastes is one that essentially looks back over everything Solomon had been given, and over everything Solomon had pursued, and having a very specific opinion concerning it. If you wish to truly understand the words which are found within the book of Ecclesiastes it is absolutely necessary to first consider the narrative of Solomon as it was written in the book of First Kings and Second Chronicles, for it is what we find within these books that helps set the stage for what we find in this Old Testament poetic book. With that being said, I invite you to consider the following words found within these books concerning Solomon and the great splendor, the great honor, and the great wealth and possessions he had within and upon the earth:

“And when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions. And she came to Jerusalem with a very great twain, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not. And when the Queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice. And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such substance of s pieces as these which the Queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon. And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great Plentywood of almug trees, and precious stones. And the king m add of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king’s house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day. And king Solomon gave unto the Queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.” (1 Kings 10:1-13).

“Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred three score and six talents of gold, beside that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffick of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country. And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold went to one target. And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pound of gold went to one shield: and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon. Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold. The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays. And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps: there was not like made in any kingdom. And all king Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon. For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshith, bringing gold and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks. So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom. And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart. And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and armour, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year; And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem. And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars made he to be as the sycomore trees that are in the vale, for abundance. And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king’s merchants received the linen yarn at a price. And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty: and so for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, did they bring them out by their means” (1 Kings 10:14-29).

“And when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a very great company, and camels that bare s pieces, and gold in abundance, and precious stones: and when was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions: and there was nothing hid from Solomon which he told her not. And when the Queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel; his cupbearers also, and their apparel; and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, It was a true report which I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thy wisdom: howbeit I believed not their words until I cam, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame that I heard. Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the LORD thy God: Because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice. And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices great abundance, and precious stones: neither was there any such spice as the Queen of Sheba gave king Solomon. And the servants also of Hiram, and the servants of Solomon, which brought gold from Ophir, brought algum trees and precious stones. And the king made of the algum trees terraces to the house of the LORD, and to the king’s palace, and harps and psalteries for singers: and there were none such seen before in the land of Judah. And king Solomon gave to the Queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which she had brought unto the king. So she turned, and went away to her own land, she and her servants” (2 Chronicles 9:1-12).

“Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred and three score and six talents of gold; beside that which chapmen and merchants brought. And all the kings of Arabia and governors of the country brought gold and silver to Solomon. And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of beaten gold went to one target. And three hundred shields made he of beaten gold: three hundred shekels of gold went to one shield. And the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon. Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. And there were six steps to the throne, with a footstool of gold, which were f ascended to the throne, and stays on each side of the sitting place, and two lions standing by the stays: and twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps. There was not like Mande in any kingdom. And all the drinking vessels of king Solomon were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold: none were of silver; it was not any thing accounted of in the days of Solomon. For the king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshsish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks. And king Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, that God had put in his heart. And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and raiment, harness, and spices, horses, and mules, a rare year but year. And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; whom he bestowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem. And he reigned over all the kings from the river even unto the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt. And the king made silver in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar trees made he as the sycomore trees that are in the low plains in abundance. And they brought unto Solomon horses out of Egypt, and out of all land” (2 Chronicles 9:13-28).

It is quite clear from both of these passages—the one found in the Old Testament book of First Kings, and the other found in the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles—that Solomon was not only a man of great fame, honor and reputation, but he was also a man of great abundance, great wealth, great prosperity, and great possessions. You cannot read the words which are written and found within these two passages of Scripture and not encounter the awesome and tremendous reality that Solomon the son of David and king of Israel was made to be unlike any other king before him, nor any other king after him. Perhaps one of the most remarkable and astounding realities surrounding these two narratives concerning the life of Solomon is that his fame and his reputation was unmatched and unrivaled among all the kings of the earth. In fact, the author of the book of Second Chronicles wrote how king Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. What’s more, the author goes on to write how all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, that God had put in his heart. Even further still, we find that the kings of the earth brought every man his present year over year unto Solomon. Furthermore, the author of the book of Second Chronicles would go on to write how Solomon reigned over all the kings from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt. There is absolutely no doubt when reading these passages that Solomon excelled above all the kings of the earth during that time and during his generation, and that Solomon himself was essentially the king of kings. We dare not and must not miss this absolutely astounding reality, for when we think about Solomon we must consider the fact that he was essentially the king of kings, for Scripture clearly states that he reigned over all the kings from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that not only did Solomon reign over kings of other kingdoms, but all the kings of the earth sought presence of Solomon to hear the wisdom which the LORD had put in his heart. In every area Solomon surpassed, excelled and exceeded the kings of the earth, and the LORD had elevated him and the throne upon which he sat above all the thrones of the kings of the earth. Solomon was taken by the LORD and elevated and exalted to a prominent place in the midst of the lands and nations during those days, and there was not a single king that compared to Solomon. In all reality, I am convinced that Solomon himself is a wonderful and powerful picture of the eternal Son of David who is not only the King of kings, but is also the Lord of lords. Within the narrative of Solomon we truly do see an awesome and captivating picture of another Son of David who would be the only begotten of the Father, and would be born of a virgin, and would be given a name above every other name in heaven, and in the earth and under the earth.

With all of this being said I am absolutely and completely convinced that there is something to be said about the words and language that is found within these two passages in the books of First Kings and Second Chronicles. The words and language contained within them not only speak of the Queen of Sheba traveling a great distance to come unto Solomon in the city of Jerusalem, but these passages also describe the great gifts which she brought with her—gold, precious stones and spices from the land from which she came. These two passages describe just how much the LORD had prospered Solomon during those days, and how the report and fame of him would reach all the way unto the land of Sheba which most believe to be the modern day nation of Yemen. What’s more, is that Scripture also mentions Arabia, and how gifts and treasures were brought to Solomon from Arabia as well. We cannot miss and lose sight of the awesome truth and reality that is found within these passages of Scripture, for within these passages of Scripture we see the tremendous prosperity, the tremendous wealth, the tremendous abundance which Solomon the king of Israel had during his days—all of which was given unto him by the LORD his God. The LORD would declare unto Solomon that night at the high place in Gibeon that He would give him all those things he didn’t ask for—wealth, riches, fame, honor, prestige, and so much more. The LORD would take Solomon and make him the greatest king the nation of Israel had ever seen in terms of fame, honor, wealth and possessions, and would make him the greatest king among all the nations of the earth during those days. It is necessary that we recognize this truth, for it brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that Solomon was indeed a man of great wealth and possessions in addition to his being a man of great wisdom and knowledge. Almost as great and abundant as his wisdom and knowledge were, so also was his wealth and possessions which the LORD his God had given him. More specifically, these passages highlight and underscore the awesome and tremendous reality that Solomon was taken from among the kings of the earth during those days and was exalted and elevated above them all in the sight of both God and man. There was not a single king during those days that did not come unto Solomon seeking to hear the wisdom which the LORD his God had given him, nor was there a single king which did not bring unto Solomon gifts year by year. When considering the narrative of Solomon the son of David and king of Israel it is truly something worth thinking about and considering that the LORD took him and gave him such a great place of prominence and prestige among the kings of the earth—and not only among the kings of the earth, but even among the inhabitants of the nations, lands and peoples of the earth.

I am absolutely convinced that we cannot truly understand the words and language that is found in the book of Ecclesiastes, for the book itself has no meaning if you do not understand the life of the man. Essentially the book of Ecclesiastes is Solomon looking back over and upon his life—looking back over all he had acquired, all he had amassed, all he had pursued, all he had gotten for and unto himself, and all he had been given by the LORD, and having a very specific opinion and view of it all. When you read the words and language that is found in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes you will find that everything which the authors of the books of First Kings and Second Chronicles wrote about was at the very heart of Solomon’s words in this book. You cannot truly understand the depth of the meaning behind the words found in the book of Ecclesiastes without truly understanding the fact that he was a man who was given tremendous wealth, tremendous wisdom, tremendous possessions, tremendous fame, tremendous honor, and was taken from among all the kings of the earth and exalted to a place of prominence within and upon the earth. There was not a single king that compared to Solomon—either in wisdom, nor in wealth—for the LORD had bestowed upon Solomon such as has never been on a king since then. The LORD did in fact give Solomon great wisdom and great understanding, and it was that wisdom, that knowledge, that understanding which drew the kings of the earth and the peoples of the earth unto him to hear that wisdom. Isn’t it truly something remarkable to consider the fact that the wisdom which the LORD had given unto Solomon would be an instrument and tool in the hand of God to bring the peoples and kings from the nations of the earth unto the city of Jerusalem—and not only unto Jerusalem, but also unto the throne of David and the Temple of Solomon. The wisdom which the LORD had bestowed unto and upon Solomon would bring men and women from all over the earth during that time that they might hear and listen to the words which he would speak unto them. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for in the city of Jerusalem the living God exalted the wisdom of Solomon upon the throne of David in the midst of the earth. Within the city of Jerusalem the LORD God Almighty would exalt and elevate the wisdom of heaven upon the throne of David, as men and women from every nation would come unto Solomon to hear the wisdom which the LORD had granted and given unto him.

As you seek to read and approach the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes you will find the words which were written and contained therein being written by Solomon, who is referred to within the book as “The Preacher.” In fact, the opening verse of both the first chapter, as well as the entire book begins with the words “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem” (Ecclesiastes 1:1). In the first and opening verses of this poetic book we find Solomon using a word which would be used within and throughout this entire book. Upon beginning to read this poetic book beginning to read with and from the second verse of the opening chapter you will find Solomon making a tremendous and bold statement—a statement that would be made in light of, and which would fly directly in the face of everything he had sought after, everything he had pursued, everything he had acquired, and everything he had possessed within this life. In the second verse of the first chapter of this book we find Solomon making the tremendously bold statement, saying, “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Essentially when you read the words of Solomon which are found within this Old Testament book you will encounter and come face to face with the pursuits and endeavors we attempt to make within this life. The words found in this poetic book bring us to the place where we are forced to examine and confront each and every one of our pursuits within this life and truly ask ourselves what the meaning, what the purpose, what the value of it all was. You cannot read the words found within this Old Testament book and not encounter the distinct reality that Solomon was a man who had pursued and sought after much, and had reached the point within his life where he was essentially able to look over all he had sought after—all that his heart and soul desired and delighted in—and speak very candidly, openly and honestly about it all. Scripture is unclear at what point during the life of Solomon he wrote these words, but we can be absolutely certain that they were written at some point later on within his life—written during a period of time when he was able to look back over all he had sought after, all he had pursued, all he had acquired, and all he had amassed—and perhaps grown incredibly weary with everything he had. If there is one thing that makes the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes so incredibly challenging and captivating is when you think about the fact that it is essentially a book about the pursuits we have within this life—those things which we spend a considerable amount of time seeking after, pursuing and attempting to acquire and achieve within this life. With this in mind, I can’t help but be reminded of the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narratives which were written concerning the life of Jesus—specifically the words which Jesus spoke concerning our pursuits, our desires, our delights, and that which we seek after in this life. Consider if you will the following words which are found within the gospel narratives which were written by the apostle Matthew, the beloved physician Luke, as well as John Mark:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:19-23).

“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:25-34).

“And, behold, one came and said unto Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my tough up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:16-22).

“And when He was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to Him, and asked Him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was said at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto His disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:17-23).

“And one of the company said unto Him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And He said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them,s aging, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestowe all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:13-21).

“And He said unto His disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and g I’ve alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief aproacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:22-34).

“And a certain ruler asked Him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these things have I. Kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, He said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, and follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, He said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:18-24).

Each of these passages help paint the tremendous picture—not only of what we seek after and pursue within this life, but they each present us with the tremendous danger of great wealth, great possessions, and great material and earthly goods. In the case of the rich young ruler, he came unto Jesus asking what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responded to this young man’s inquiry by instructing him to keep the commandments—more specifically those commandments which dealt with his relationship with others. Upon hearing Jesus’ instruction to keep the commandments, the rich young ruler not only responded by declaring that he had kept those commands from his youth up, but also asked what he still lacked. This question was in all reality a loaded question, and one which I am absolutely certain he did not expect the answer and response he received. Jesus—upon hearing this sincere and honest question—looked upon this man and loved him with a tremendous and eternal love. It would be from that place of love Jesus would speak directly unto this rich young man and invite him to sell all that he had, to give and distribute to the poor, and then to take up his cross, follow him, and have treasure in heaven. What makes Jesus’ response to this rich young man so incredibly captivating is that he directly linked having treasure in heaven to four distinct realities—namely, selling all he had, giving unto the poor, taking up his cross, and following Him. SELLING, GIVING, TAKING UP, FOLLOWING! There are three accounts of Jesus’ interaction with this rich young ruler or this rich young man, and in all three accounts we find Jesus inviting him to sell all he had, to give to the poor, to take up his cross, and to follow after Jesus. It would in the process of doing these things that this man would transition himself from having treasure laid and stored up on the earth and having treasure in heaven. This is important for us to realize and recognize, for when we think about our pursuit in this life we must ask ourselves whether or not we are laying up for ourselves treasures on the earth and are poor towards God, or whether we are laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven and are rich toward God. Perhaps the underlying question we must ask ourselves is what pursuits are currently present within our lives, and are taking center stage in this one life we have been.

ONE LIFE! When Jesus spoke unto the rich young ruler He loved him and told him that he still lacked one thing, and yet as I sit here this morning I can’t help but think about the fact that in addition to the one thing this young man lacked, there is also the tremendous truth about the one life he had been given. It is important that we recognize and understand this reality, for we have been given one life to live on this planet and home we call earth. The ultimate and underlying question is what we are doing with this one life, and how we are spending our time within this life. There are no resets, there are no restarts, and there are no do overs. Once this life has come to an end for you and time on the clock runs out you will find yourself standing before the righteous Judge of all the earth and will be called to give an account of what you did in this life, what you pursued, and how you spent your time here on the earth. This reality and concept of having one life is something that is absolutely and incredibly intriguing and challenging when you think about it, for this concept of one life speaks to and suggests the chance that there are no try outs and there is no practice—you either live this life the way the living and eternal God designed and intended you to, or you live this life the way you intended. We have been given one life to live on this planet and home we call earth, and the single greatest question we must ask ourselves is whether or not our treasure is in heaven, or whether or treasure is in the earth. There is a lot of talk about what we are leaving the next generation which comes behind us, and yet the truth of the matter is that as much as we need to ask ourselves what we are leaving the generation that comes after us, we must also ask ourselves what we are doing with this life and how we are living this life. Jesus spoke very clearly about where our treasure is there our heart will be also, and He spoke very clearly about our not laying up for ourselves treasures here on the earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. That which Jesus called and invited us to was to pursue treasure in heaven, and to be rich toward God by living a life of tempered pursuits that are in alignment with the word of God, the ways of God and the wisdom of God. Jesus invited us to live this one life seeking first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and by not thinking that we can add one cubit or one measure to our lives by worrying. Jesus made it very clear that within this life we are to seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, thus making it our chief and ultimate pursuit.

The more you read the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes the more you will encounter the tremendous reality of Solomon coming to a point within his life where he looked over all his pursuits, looked over all his desires and delights, looked over everything he had accomplished and amassed, and viewed it all as vanity. Pause for a moment and consider this reality, for this was the same Solomon of whom it was spoken that all the kings of the earth came unto him for to hear the wisdom which the LORD had put into his heart. This was the same Solomon who was brought gifts from the kings of the earth, and unto whom men and women from the nations and lands of the earth came unto to hear and listen to the wisdom the LORD his God had given him. It was this Solomon who was abundant in riches, abundant in wealth, abundant in possessions, and had a yearly quota of gold, and precious stones, and other fineries, and yet when he came to the latter years of his life he found himself expressing vanity over everything he had sought after and everything he had desired. One of the most astounding and remarkable truths surrounding the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes is what appears to be Solomon’s remorse and discontent with everything he had acquired and everything he had accumulated within and during his life. Solomon—this one who was the wisest man upon the face of the earth, and who surpassed all the kings of the earth in wealth and wisdom—came to the end of his life and ended up describing it all as vanity. I can’t help but wonder if at the end of Solomon’s life in those latter years he began thinking about what he was going to be leaving for that next generation, and what good, what worth and what value there was in everything he had given himself to, and everything he had pursued. I can’t help but get the strong sense that Solomon came to the end of his life, and during those latter years realized and recognized that he had spent so much time chasing after and pursuing so many things that had littler eternal wealth and value. This is most certainly true concerning the large harem of women he had, for Scripture reveals how Solomon had seven-hundred wives and princess in addition to the daughter of Pharaoh, as well as three-hundred concubines.

Stop for a moment and consider this unbelievably large harem of women and think about the fact that not only did his wives turn away his heart from worshipping and walking after the God of his father David, but Solomon undoubtedly realized that even his pursuit of women—the pursuit of lust, the pursuit of physical desire, the pursuit of those things which he thought would and could be fulfilled by women ended up not fulfilling or satisfying him the way he had hoped or anticipated. If you read the eleventh chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings you will encounter the narrative of Solomon loving many strange and foreign women, and cleaving to them in love. What’s more, is that concerning these women we find that when he was older and advanced in years his wives turned his heart away from worshipping and serving the living God. Moreover, his wives would turn his heart after the strange and foreign gods of the nations round about Israel of which the LORD commanded and instructed the children of Israel not to worship, nor serve. This is important for us to realize and recognize, for there is not a doubt in my mind that when Solomon came to the end of his life, and to those latter years he realized that everything he had enjoyed, everything he had accumulated and amassed was nothing more than vanity. All the pleasures, all the delights, all the luxuries, all the delicacies he enjoyed within and throughout his reign as king over the nation of Israel would prove to be of very little worth or value to him at the end of his life. Solomon would come to those latter years of his life and would look back over everything he had, and I would dare say he had a moment when something inside of him clicked, and he realized that he spent a considerable amount of time chasing after things that really didn’t matter. Despite the fact that Solomon had been responsible for the construction and building of the Temple, he came to the latter years of his life and realized that all his pursuits and all his endeavors was nothing more than fleeting and temporary in this very brief time we have on the earth. It would be Solomon himself who would write in this book that God has placed eternity in the hearts of all men, and there is a great part of me that wonders whether or not Solomon came to these latter years of his life and found himself staring eternity in the face. Is it possible that Solomon had spent so much time living for the here and the now—so much time living for what was right in front of him—as opposed to living for and being driven by eternity?

The more I read and consider the words and language that is found within the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes the more I find myself coming face to face with the strong reality that Solomon most likely came to the latter years of his life and found himself thinking about eternity—perhaps because he realized that he could take nothing with him. As you read the words which are found within this Old Testament book you will find Solomon speaking a great deal about this life and what he would leave behind him when he passed from this life to the next—a reality which clearly indicates the fact that Solomon began really thinking about eternity, and what awaited him on the other side of death. Solomon knew and believed the LORD had set eternity in the hearts of men, and he knew that time was fleeting and was but for a moment, and that what truly mattered and what truly lasts is eternity. In all reality, we must recognize that even though there is a time for everything—time itself does not and will not last. There is coming a point where time will be no more and the only thing that is left is eternity. Stop and think about that, and allow that reality and truth to settle in your hearts and minds. Consider the fact that although we live in the realm of time and space right now, there is coming a point when time itself will cease and will be no more. There is coming a point where time itself will be swallowed up and done away with by eternity, and the only thing we are left with is eternity—either an eternity in the presence of the living God, or eternity in the presence of the devil and all his fallen angels. If you are truly willing to be honest with yourself, with me, and with the living and eternal God—how much time, effort and energy do you spend living for that which is eternal? How much time do you spend living for the here and the now, and for the temporary and fleeting pleasures of this life? How much time do you spend thinking about and considering what is on the other side of this life and what is on the other side of time? Are you spending your days and your time living for those things which you think and feel satisfy and gratify you in the here and now, and spend very little time thinking about eternity? In all reality, there is a passage found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Mathew which powerful describes those who lived with eternity in mind, and those who lived for the temporary in mind. What’s more, is that what we find within the twenty-fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by Matthew reveals that when we live with eternity in mind we are able to live beyond ourselves and are able to live for others. If you who are reading these words allow me to be honest with you, I must emphatically declare that if you are truly willing to live with eternity in mind, and if you are truly willing to live your life for eternity, you will find yourself living not yourself, but for others. With this in mind, I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the twenty-fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew. Consider the following words if you will:

“When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? OR when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:31-46).

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I must needs explain and present you with the strong reality that the book of Ecclesiastes was written by one who had spent his life pursuing various different things within his life—things which he thought would satisfy him, and things which he thought would satisfy him in the very depths of his being—and finding that not only did they not satisfy and fulfill him the way he thought, but he also realized that much of it had very little eternal value and worth when considered in light of and compared to eternity. It must be noted when reading the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes that it was written by a man who had come to the latter years of his life and realized that he had spent a considerable amount of time chasing after the wind, and chatting after those things which had absolutely no eternal worth or value. It was from this place Solomon declared that everything was vanity of vanities, and everything was vexation of spirit. Undoubtedly Solomon came to the end of his life and came to the place where he began to view everything he had done, everything he had, and who he was in light of eternity. Oh, this reality and this truth is such which must be considered within our own hearts and lives, for we must recognize and understand whether or not we are living our lives with eternity in mind, and for eternity, or whether or not we are living our lives for that which is found in the here and the now and in this life. I would dare say that if we live our lives, and if we devote ourselves to what is found in the here and now we will be of most men completely and utterly miserable. If there is one thing we must recognize and take from reading the book of Ecclesiastes, it’s that there is a great need within our hearts and lives to live—not with time and the things of the earth in mind, but with eternity in mind. Oh that we would read the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes and that we would come face to face with our pursuit of the eternal, and our willingness to not be such as lay up for ourselves treasures here upon the earth, but that we would be those who lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven that we might be rich toward God—not only in this life, but also when this thing called time, and this thing called life ends, and we enter into eternity and experience eternal life.

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