What does it say?
Chapter 7 continues Solomon’s third discourse on the emptiness of human, practical morality. Specifically, this chapter’s focus is on the futility of human moralizing, passing judgment on moral issues without having any absolute standard by which to measure. Chapter 8 continues with the emptiness of human government with a conclusion in 8:16-17 on the bankruptcy of human morality alone.
The final four chapters and the fourth sermon turn the corner from negative to positive. The certainty of death and life’s brevity demand that we seek God’s wisdom above all else (Ecc 9). Solomon reviews that pleasure, philosophy and good works have nothing eternal to offer (Ecc 10). The only realistic answer to the human dilemma is a biblical worldview that sees life in the light of eternity, eternal truth and eternal values (Ecc 11:1–12:12). Fear and obey God is the final conclusion (Ecc 12:13-14).
What does it mean?
To correctly understand what this book means requires us to remember always that bulk of this book is Solomon expressing the bankruptcy of a humanistic worldview that knows only philosophy, hard work, common wisdom and other expressions of human moralizing. Solomon had great knowledge and began his reign well. When he succumbed to pride, pleasure and a life of entitlement, he either degenerated into a humanistic worldview or an underlying humanistic worldview surfaced to take control. Some of what Solomon says is common human knowledge and wisdom that is in line with God’s truth; while other statements are not. Above all this book must be understood in the totality of the context and verses should not be blindly jerked out of context as though they represent standalone truth.
Many come to sincere faith in Christ yet are unaware of how much their innate worldview controls them and triggers decisions and attitudes of which they are not aware and are often in total contradiction of a biblical worldview. Only commitment to and meditation in God’s word can begin to penetrate our dominant worldview and transform it in the power of God’s grace applied by his indwelling Holy Spirit.
At the end of his life Solomon finally puts it all together and comes to the right conclusion – fear and obey God.
How will I respond?
How would I summarize my knowledge of God and the wisdom he has granted me during the time of my faith walk? Can I add to what Solomon said in 12:13-14?