"Utterly meaningless," exclaims the author of Ecclesiastes, a supposed descendent of David, as he jumps to his pessimistic philosophy regarding life on Earth. It can be inferred from these opening lines of text that the subject matter of the "Teacher" will be on how we can find purpose in our lives. The first chapter serves as an example of how life, at first glance, may be interpreted as mere vanity. Using many illustrations from nature he draws the conclusion that life is empty, repetitive, and ceaseless; nothing is new. Each day the sun rises and falls, just to climb back up the following day to fall again like it did each day previous to it. The monotonous series of natural occurrences produce an incessant, wearisome rhythm. Comparing it to an attempt to grasp the wind, he finds the accumulation of wisdom to generate similar conclusions about the futility of man and life. Because the words of the "Teacher" in this first chapter make no reference to God, it can be speculated that such a purposeless outlook on life develops as a result of a life without the Lord.
To validate and provide support for these observations, Ecclesiastes begins, in the second chapter, a quest in the pursuit of happiness. Guided by (presumably) God-given wisdom, he investigates the realms of pleasure, amusement, frivolity, and prosperity. He attempts to obtain happiness by accumulating houses with lush vineyards and gardens, wealth and treasures, singers, entertainers, and sexual partners as well as a multiplying collection of servants and a large herd. During his exploration, Ecclesiastes does not limit himself. He denies himself nothing, "refused [his] heart no pleasure," and "took delight in all [his] work" (vv 10). However, the delight he finds in his work proves to be unfulfilling. It is merely temporary, perhaps momentary, satisfaction that leaves him longing for something more. He finds, in parallel with his theory, that these worldly means of happiness are simply...
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