So, here’s chapter one. Each section with be printed, with my commentary in bold. Please don’t let the large amount of words scare you away. It’s okay; the Bible doesn’t bite. Not physically, at least.
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” We have our writer identified (most likely King Solomon) and a six-word summary of the entire book of Ecclesiastes. The writer is saying something profound here: everything is not just vain, but it is vanity of vanities! Think about it: if you are wealthy here on earth, to what extent will that help you with getting to Heaven?
What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun? The writer struggles with this question throughout the book.
A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; and hastening to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns. All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again. The writer is describing the cycles of life. The repetition in life, the boring continuance of sameness, it must really push this guy over the edge (for goodness’ sake, he wrote an entire book about it)!
All things are wearisome; man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing. That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one might say, “See this, it is new”? Already it has existed for ages which were before us. There is no remembrance of earlier things; and also of the later things which will occur, There will be for them no remembrance among those who will come later still. Continuing with describing boring cycles. It’s no secret that most people want simulation for their eyes and ears. But despite the familiarity of everything, people still believe that they make discoveries, which will all be forgotten in the end. With people, their sins and desires, hopes and aspirations, fears and tribulations, they always have been and will continue to be.
I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. As far as other people and God are concerned, the writer knows who he is, what they do/did, and what he’s going to do. Seems very Inigo Montoya-esque to me. The writer is looking for the meaning of life, trying to answer the big “why” of existence. Even for the wisest of men on the earth, trying to think beyond our limitations is a battle.
I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted. I know what you’re thinking: step out of the dark room, dude. But he does have a point in that no human action is totally permanent. Also notice the latter portion of this section: life is what it is and no matter what, we can’t fully understand the workings of our universe. Many have tried, and all have failed. Job 38 and 39 demonstrate this quite well. When Job starts complaining to God (all the while not cursing God’s name), God gives Job perhaps one of the biggest tongue-lashings in the Bible. And it just shows that we are all babies, with no wisdom compared to God’s expanse of being.
I said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. Again with the whole concept of realizing that the big picture is way bigger than we can even realize. Searching, struggling to find any purpose for the living of the world: it’s wearisome, not only for the body, but for the mind.
Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain. This is true. I once came across a girl my age at camp. We started making conversation (small talk, mind you), and without my probing, the girl had told me her basic life story in about two minutes. She told me, a virtual stranger, about everything from her adoption to her dark feelings of sadness and anger. And the more I knew about her, the more my sympathies reached out to her. When I see people or animals in suffering, it leaves my heart just a little bit heavier, because it serves as a fresh reminder that evil exists in the world, even as I live my beautiful, precious, simple life. How much more intense it is for people who see, or even live through, much worse! I guess that sometimes “the way things are” aren’t what they should be, and can never be made right, and that feeling of powerlessness separates many from the pursuit of wisdom.
(Ecclesiastes 1:1-18 NASB)
I suppose the biggest question here is: would you rather be the wisest person on earth and tortured by all that understanding, or a happy fool?
—The Jesus Freak Girl
“Signatures are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” —Me