Monday, March 10, 2014

chasing down the wind

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." 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.

Ecclesiastes 1:16-17

Solomon's intimate personal journal details are found in this book. It is a record of his personal quest to figure out his world. It is a philosophical masterpiece of human reflection. But it is not a slappy-happy feel-good kind of diary that would sell well in a modern Christian bookstore! You  can't really market coffee mugs, wall paintings, and T-shirts from Ecclesiastes. Don't try it. It is a darkly written notebook stinging with the cynicisms of a man who burned out on everything but finally found Something in the ashes. It is worth sorting through the tougher, bitter observations to get at the kernels of life truth Solomon found.

Solomon had it all. He did it all. He had the wealth of a nation in his palace treasuries and he utilized it to gain the finest education on every possible subject. He pursued wisdom and pleasure equally lustily, wringing them out for every last drop of personal experience possible for him to have. And ultimately they did not satisfy. His final verdict on all of that endeavor over his lifetime: chasing the wind.

There is a human perspective in Ecclesiastes that is just as real today as in Solomon's troubled soul. Only most westerners can be like Solomon in the pursuit of the wisdom of this world. We often have access to a university of human thought in the palm of our hands... literally. But there is an error at the beginning of this search that leaves us trying to catch wind in our jars. It is the mistake of assuming that the cosmos is all there is and has all the answers within itself. (Sorry, Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson) The physical universe is the source of a big wind chasing race. And like Solomon, hearts today burn out in the passionate run after the breeze. We were made for a deeper purpose focused on a strong center. Knowledge is good and the universe is worth exploring. But to make that pursuit the center is to miss out. And Ecclesiastes will eventually show this later as we read Solomon's reflections at the finish line. 

1 comment:

susiejeanne said...

Ecc is one of my favorite books. I always tell people to not be afraid to read it, but to be sure to read the whole book! It truly puts life's pursuits into perspective. Thanks troutdude!