Chapter 1 - Who is Kohelet (Book Study Post #2)
"Omina Vanitas", 1848, by William Dyce
Men and women, throughout the ages, have asked of themselves the meaning of life. There even exists a style of painting called "Vanitas" (vanity), generally seen with a human skull, as if to say, "we live, we die, what's the point?"
The Bible comes to us through three different types of writers: priests, prophets, and sages.
He goes on to tell us that us that the Bible gives us 5 wisdom books, and that they are divided into Affirmative Wisdom (Psalms, Song of Songs, and Proverbs), and Acceptive Wisdom (Job and Kohelet, ie., Ecclesiastes).
"Sages were wise men who observed and examined life, and under the inspiration of God, would extrapolate what was called hokma, or wisdom, the skill of living."
Affirmative wisdom is when one can begin to figure out and understand how God's world works and how you can become successful at living in it. Where Acceptive wisdom recognizes the paradox of life, the tension of life. "The fact is", says DelHousaye, "we cannot always figure it out and understand how God's world works. At times it doesn't make a whole lot of sense!"
Kohelet is defined in our age as preacher. However, the view here is rather a great gathering of the world's wisest men, gathered to hear from the world's wisest man. Furthermore, this great wise man is none other than King Solomon.
Ecclesiastes 1:2 - Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
The final point that DelHousaye wants us to understand is that there is great misunderstanding around this word "vanity". In fact, as he points out, some translations even define this a meaningless, all is meaningless.
DelHousaye wants us to clearly understand that Solomon, hence God, is not saying that our lives are meaningless. "That is not the message of the book", he proclaims.
As it turns out, this word vanity is actually hevel in the original Hebrew, which means "vapor", or "breath".
Therefore, our lives are not meaningless, but, as Solomon points out, in light of eternity, our lives are but a vapor, a breath. We are here today, and gone tomorrow. In three generations, the world will not likely know that you even existed. Therefore, how are we to live?
What's it all about, Alfie?
From Dr. DelHousaye:
Ecclesiastes is Acceptive Wisdom - trying to make sense of of an apparent senseless world - trying to put it all together with all its contradictions and enigmas along with the challenge of acquiring it before life passes us by like a vapor. Does that mean life is senseless, and therefore, meaningless? It may pass by too fast for any of us to figure it out, but not for the eternal God who created it. A life based on God's wisdom is one that will not be lived in vain.Consider the following ancient secrets revealed to us through Kohelet:
- God is wise and has a plan even when we can't always figure it out (3:11; 7:14; 8:17).
- God is good and life is a good gift from him (3:12, 13)
- God is just and shall reward the good and judge the wrongs that have been done (3:16-17; 8:11-13)
Thus, as you can see, Kohelet is actually emphasizing a point: the preciousness of life; Carpe Diem. Enjoy the good of creation now for it passes quickly like a vapor. Seize the moment of life! Life is a good gift from the hand of God.
It will be very interesting to seek to find the balance between some who seem to take our passage on this earth to be nearly detestable, as compared with these writings of King Solomon. It would seem that some take our total depravity, to become totally worthless.
Yet, would God send Christ to die for worthlessness? Even if so, do we not become of great value once we are regenerated? If so, then certainly God, speaking through Solomon, has much to teach us.
We were totally depraved, are now filled with the Light, and life is a good gift from God, while we wait for our final eternal reward. Yet (don't you sometimes hate that word yet?), God further tells us that this life will contain toils, and snares.
Ah...the great paradox. What is it all about? I look forward to learning from God, through King Solomon, interpreted by Dr. Darryl DelHousaye.