Where is God when I need Him? Why doesn't life make sense? How can I find meaning in life? Why isn't life fair?
Solomon asked over thirty questions in Ecclessiastes. Many of them we can relate to, because we face them as well. That is why Ecclessiastes is a book that we should pay attention to in the modern era. The questions don’t go away. Rather they increase.
Can you find meaning in life through intellectual pursuits? Solomon couldn’t. Can you find meaning in life through pleasure? Through luxury? Through sensuality? Through work? Through beauty? Solomon couldn’t.
Nor can you. But you can find meaning in life. That is what this book is all about.
This book may not answer all your questions, but it will give you a foundation to work from when you face questions in life. It will show you how the wisest man who ever lived faced them. And what he finally discovered about God.
Every “thinker” needs a sanctuary—a quiet haven with no distractions to disturb their thought processes. Here is how I envision Solomon’s
Solomon’s “thinking room” was a little cubicle he would have called his study, had there been such a thing in his time. It was little more than a cell furnished with a writing table, a chair, and some rudimentary writing materials. His working area was lit by several candles since he did most of his reading and writing either late at night or early in the morning.
One wall had a window, of sorts, facing west. Mostly it was just a hole in the wall, with shutters that he could close if the breeze was too cold or the sun too bright. It was big enough that he could see out without needing to stand up.
The door in the sidewall opened into his sleeping quarters and was the only way to enter the room. The room was heated through the door by the fireplace in the next room.
The other two walls were the most important. They contained his library of scrolls, stored carefully on roughhewn shelves. Some of the scrolls were obviously quite old and fragile. Others were newer, and several were written by Solomon himself. Many were copies of older clay tablets that Solomon’s scribes had recopied onto parchment imported from Egypt. A few were even copies of oral traditions handed down from the unknown past that Solomon’s men had tracked down. Perhaps the most important scrolls in the collection were the copy of the Pentateuch Solomon had copied painstakingly in his own handwriting during the first years of his reign.
That library would be worth a king’s ransom today if we could recover it somehow. It contained the thoughts and writings of wise men and scholars, as well as scientists and political gurus of the time. Some were old and some were new—the king’s men had collected them from far and wide. They contained the wisdom of the world at that time.
Every chapter has a series of discussion questions for group or personal study. They will help you delve deeper in to the topic of this book. Here are some samples...
- Think of the idea of the universe being a senseless, meaningless, perpetual motion machine with no escape route but death. What modern-day philosophies mirror this kind of thinking?
- How does satisfaction in life help people find meaning in life? In what way doesn’t it?
- Is creativity useless? In what ways do you agree with Solomon’s sentiments? In what ways do you think he is wrong?
- Think of this statement: If life is all we live for, then we will find ourselves fighting the same kind of pessimism Solomon struggled with. Why is this true?
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after. (Ecc 1:9-11)
Do you want to write a book? It’s already been written by someone else, and he’s done a better job at it than you ever could. Besides, that book has already been forgotten and so has its author. The same thing will happen to you. It’s no use trying to create something new or beautiful. No one will appreciate it. You’re just wasting your time. You’re just a part of the meaningless cycle the universe is stuck in.