Solomon does a thorough investigation of his life and his conclusion? Everything is meaningless, let me say it again, meaningless. What is vanity? You name it…it’s vain. He points to wisdom, the sun, the wind, generations, and the sea and challenges us to keep our eyes focused on Christ. All of it can look like a circle of life which leads to a lack of meaning, but in Christ, we are above the sun and that our hearts are to be centered in Him. “O Holy Spirit, keep us seeing the world with Christ goggles. To see the meaning of the world to be grounded in His forgiveness and salvation and to not become overwhelmed by the vanity under the sun but knowing life above the sun in Him. Lord have mercy. Amen”
Thy Strong Word reveals the light of our salvation in Christ through study of God’s Word, breaking our darkness with His redeeming light. Each weekday, two pastors fix our eyes on Jesus by considering Holy Scripture, verse by verse, in order to be strengthened in the Word and be equipped to faithfully serve in our daily vocations.
Thy Strong Word is hosted by Rev. Brady Finnern, pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Sartell, MN, and graciously underwritten by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation.
All Is Vanity
1 The words of the Preacher,[a] the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2 Vanity[b] of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
3 What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
4 A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens[c] to the place where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
7 All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
8 All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,[d]
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things[e] yet to be
among those who come after.
The Vanity of Wisdom
12 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I applied my heart[f] to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity[g] and a striving after wind.[h]
15 What is crooked cannot be made straight,
and what is lacking cannot be counted.
16 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.
18 For in much wisdom is much vexation,
and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
- Ecclesiastes 1:1 Or Convener, or Collector; Hebrew Qoheleth (so throughout Ecclesiastes)
- Ecclesiastes 1:2 The Hebrew term hebel, translated vanity or vain, refers concretely to a “mist,” “vapor,” or “mere breath,” and metaphorically to something that is fleeting or elusive (with different nuances depending on the context). It appears five times in this verse and in 29 other verses in Ecclesiastes
- Ecclesiastes 1:5 Or and returns panting
- Ecclesiastes 1:11 Or former people
- Ecclesiastes 1:11 Or later people
- Ecclesiastes 1:13 The Hebrew term denotes the center of one’s inner life, including mind, will, and emotions
- Ecclesiastes 1:14 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)
- Ecclesiastes 1:14 Or a feeding on wind; compare Hosea 12:1 (also in Ecclesiastes 1:17; 2:11, 17, 26; 4:4, 6, 16; 6:9)
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. esv.org