ECCLESIASTES 8
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14 There is a vanity [hevel] which is done upon the earth [ha'aretz]; that there be just men [tzaddikim], unto whom it happeneth according to the work [ma'aseh] of the wicked [haresha'im]; again, there be wicked men [resha'im], to whom it happeneth according to the work [ma'aseh] of the righteous [hatzaddikim]: I said that this also is vanity [hevel].

From Moses to Solomon is a long stride in point of time (as men reckon), but it is not leaving one system of teaching for another. We are with the same spirit of wisdom in Ecclesiastes as in Deuteronomy, but the same spirit applied to a different topic: In Ecclesiastes, we have such a picture of the present state of existence as is not to be found in any other book under the time. It is a picture differing from all others in its truth, and therefore in its gloom.

Mere human writers paint life in gay colours, and deck human nature in tinsel-partly as the result of the theory that man is immortal and full of latent excellence, and partly as the result of the limited view of existence that is visible from the standpoint of mere human sensation. Solomon writing by the Holy Spirit in his opening sentence dashes all complacent views of human life to the ground. He strikes a bold key-note, which sounds harshly but not discordantly, through all his piece:

"Vanity of vanities," saith the Preacher, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labours which he taketh under the sun?"

By a certain class of thinkers, this is considered misanthropy. Deeper thought will find it simple truth. It harmonises with experience. Human life in its completeness, is not the good thing it is pictured, either by the writers of this world, or the ardent imagination of our own breasts in youth. Its efforts, its aspirations, its enjoyments, end in weariness, decay, and death. Its programme is an abortion at the end.

From Moses to Solomon is a long stride in point of time (as men reckon), but it is not leaving one system of teaching for another. We are with the same spirit of wisdom in Ecclesiastes as in Deuteronomy, but the same spirit applied to a different topic: In Ecclesiastes, we have such a picture of the present state of existence as is not to be found in any other book under the time. It is a picture differing from all others in its truth, and therefore in its gloom.

Mere human writers paint life in gay colours, and deck human nature in tinsel-partly as the result of the theory that man is immortal and full of latent excellence, and partly as the result of the limited view of existence that is visible from the standpoint of mere human sensation. Solomon writing by the Holy Spirit in his opening sentence dashes all complacent views of human life to the ground. He strikes a bold key-note, which sounds harshly but not discordantly, through all his piece:

"Vanity of vanities," saith the Preacher, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labours which he taketh under the sun?"

By a certain class of thinkers, this is considered misanthropy. Deeper thought will find it simple truth. It harmonises with experience. Human life in its completeness, is not the good thing it is pictured, either by the writers of this world, or the ardent imagination of our own breasts in youth. Its efforts, its aspirations, its enjoyments, end in weariness, decay, and death. Its programme is an abortion at the end.

Bible revelation comes as a solution. It is the only solution. It may be an unwelcome solution to our feelings, but it is inexorable as the facts of chemistry and as futile to quarrel with it.

The revelation is that God and man are not friends, that human life is consequently in an abnormal state upon the earth at present which nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit can attend.

Man disobeyed God at the start and has disobeyed Him ever since.

God having left man to shift for himself, man the noblest creature upon earth, for the time being, is the greatest failure. The vanity is inevitable. Man was made for God, and by his constitution, cannot be satisfied without Him. Two things cannot be denied, not even by unbelievers: first that man is seen at his best when controlled by the fear and love of God, and animated by hope of promised goodness to come, and second that few men upon earth are now to be found in that state.

Here man is without God, and preferring to be without Him with ignorance of His highest need. Therefore the misery of man is great upon him. If this were all that is revealed, it would not be much comfort. It would be satisfactory as the explanation of a dismal phenomenon, but it would not bring the comfort that God has associated with it. The revelation goes further: it tells us not only that man is estranged from God, but that God has a plan in progress by which man will at last be reconciled - not every man of the race as it now is, but every man at last found upon earth.

Bro Roberts - Understanding according to the word