Wisdom Books Part 4 of 5
The Books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon comprise the Hebrew wisdom literature and form a unit. As such, they offer deep insights into the biblically legitimate ways to understand both life and the Author of life. This series will examine each book in successive order.
If Proverbs teaches the importance of wisdom, Ecclesiastes discloses at least one important thing that unaided reason cannot achieve; and that is to establish purpose. Solomon, the wisest of men examines “life under the sun” and deduces, not purpose but vanity and meaninglessness. His conclusion to the effect that the whole duty of man is to fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13), does not follow from anything that preceded it in the book. Rather, it is revealed to him by God, who is not “under the sun” but in heaven. Ecclesiastes then teaches the crucial truth that purpose must come from “outside the system.”
A case could be made that Ecclesiastes is the book for our generation. In an affluent culture, such as ours, one can find many distractions from the “vanity” of life and thereby dull the pain that purposelessness is meant to induce. The pain of futility and boredom is given by God to drive us into the arms of His Son. For apart from Jesus, one cannot understand that we have both a common and a unique purpose. Preparation for eternity with Christ is common to all of His followers but, in addition, we are each unique with an individual purpose.
Only in Christ can one, by faith, know his purpose. Without a clear sense of personal purpose, it is impossible to separate the good from the best. If knowing that God created good works for each of us is important, then it is personal purpose that helps us to choose from among the many possible choices. Otherwise, we sacrifice the best on the altar of the good. Or worse, each does what is “right in his own eyes.” And such is the state of much of the body of Christ.