BDBD is Eccl. 8:7-8

“No man…” – “No one…”

Four truths about mankind are stated in these two verses.

  1. No man knows the future (7).
  2. No man has power over the wind to contain (restrain) it (8).
  3. No one has power over the day of his death (8).
  4. No one is discharged in time of war (8).

Jesus knew the future. Several times he told his disciples how, where, when, and why he would be betrayed, arrested, tried, crucified, and most importantly rise from the dead three days later. He also very specifically told his disciples, especially Peter that they would all leave him when this happened. He also told them how they would feel and act when he was crucified.

Jesus had power over the wind. Twice he restrained a strong wind blowing on Lake Galilee to his disciple’s astonishment asking, “Who is this that even commands and controls the wind?” Jesus had power over the wind.

Jesus had power over the day of his death. Jesus knew all the details of his death. He knew he was the Messiah from birth; especially at his baptism. The Old Testament revealed the entire life and death of the Messiah. Jesus knew all the details of his death including the year, day, and hour. Yet the disciples noticed that on his last trip to Jerusalem he was determined to go there. Even as he prayed on the Mount of Olives just before he was arrested he could have run away. He did not. Even when he was arrested the soldiers fell at his word, “I am he.” Jesus had power over the day of his death.

Since Jesus knew his future, had power over the wind and had power over his death he was no man. He was a very man and very God. Jesus was God in the flesh; Immanuel.

So what of the fourth truth? “As no one is discharged in time of war, so wickedness will not release those who practice it.” A loose translation is, “There is no way to avoid the war (no furlough against death). Wickedness will not save wicked people from dying.”

Death tried to defeat Jesus. Yet Jesus rose from the dead. Death had no power over Jesus. “Where oh death is your victory? Where is your sting?” Why? Jesus was not wicked. Jesus had not sinned; not once.

This is my Jesus. Who is he to you?

BDBD is Eccl. 8:1-8

Solomon begins to conclude his thoughts. Chapter 8 starts out once again addressing the subject of wisdom; this time its good value. Wisdom is stated as the cause of a change in a person’s countenance from sadness to a smile (1). Learn something new and understand something that puzzles and usually the immediate reaction is relief and a sense of accomplishment. However, wisdom is more than knowing facts; wisdom is understanding the cause and reaction to events as well as why something is the way it is. When a parent understands that their children’s nature is to use gas (guilt, attitude, silence) to manipulate them then they are happy for they have gained a tool.

Verse 2-5 gives the wisdom to obey the king because his word is final and unchallenged. The New Testament expands this to obey the law so that we will not always be looking over our shoulders.

Verses 6-8 expand on obeying an authority that can make life miserable to knowing procedures and timing and God who is the ultimate authority. Obeying human authority that is evil and corrupt in very difficult. When to speak up and when to shut up takes wisdom. The interaction between children and parents expounds upon this. A society that has broken families eventually fails.

BDBD is Eccl. 7:26-29

The modern terms toxic relationship and codependence are similar to verse 26. Codependence in sociology is a theory that attempts to explain imbalanced relationships where one person enables another person’s self-destructive tendencies and/or undermines the other person’s relationship. Solomon called such a person, “a snare whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. (26)”

I recently learned of two young women who were lifelong friends. They came into relationships with two men and married. The one young woman used the weakness of her friend to lead her into an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Both of them were then subdued by a drug dealer who selfishly manipulates them. Looking into the drained sad eyes of these ladies I realized that the young woman who lead her lifelong friend into a destructive path ended up trapping herself.

Considering the two young ladies’ husbands who know of their wives’ activities, the drug dealer who manipulates the four, the proud mother of the drug dealer who reveals their life, and the city leaders and area wealthy (who I learned from a former law informant) profit from the drug sales; I have searched and sadly face the truth of verses 27 and 28, “one upright man in a thousand, not one upright woman among them.”

The saddest realization is, “God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes (29).” I met these five young people and an elderly mother who has such an amazing chance at being alive, living life to the full, and being a good influence waste away in their self-destructive schemes. They were made upright and chose to destroy themself and those they know. They can be made upright again through faith in Jesus.

What can I do to help these six people come to salvation of life, body, soul, and spirit through Jesus? Lord Jesus rescue these people I have personally met. Here are my five loaves and two fish. Feed them.

BDBD is Eccl. 7:23-25

Even the person who masters a subject will admit to themselves (and perhaps another) that they are not the master of the subject. Rather the subject is their master.

The painter who with persistence seeks to perfect technique, dedicating every aspect of self to stroke and media, will look at the skill of another devoted aficionado, seeing something new and unknown that they must master. The ever pursuit of perfection turns them into a slave of inner demands.

The entrepreneur who with gall and effrontery seeks to dominate an industry, dedicating every aspect of self to dominance and control, will look at the prowess of another business and sees something demanding acquisition. Every pursuit of dominance turns them into a slave of inner demands.

The wise who is determined to excel in knowledge and understanding, dedicating every thought to wisdom, will find new information demands new perspective and intelligence. The ever pursuit of wisdom they will eventually admit is beyond them. If they do not admit, “Whatever wisdom may be, it is far off and most profound, who can discover it?” (23-24) they will be buried in a hole of despair.

Solomon the wise who descended into this valley miffed with waning strength, “I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things, and to understand the stupidity of wickedness, and the madness of folly… Meaningless, utterly meaningless.” (25)

Solomon sought to understand the human soul, what drives a person living under heaven discovered the truth that many who believe in life apart from God is chasing after the wind. He discovered that he was chasing after the wind. His life had been meaningless. He had discounted the truth of God and accepted a lie.

Who can rescue the human soul? Thanks be to Jesus and the power of salvation he rings.

BDBD is Eccl. 7:19-22

“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” (20) A fundamental truth that is repeated elsewhere in the Bible. Responses to this vary depending on the mood and situation we are in.

First, we completely deny the truth that we are not righteous. We believe we never do wrong or that there is no such thing as moral and ethical right and wrong.

Second, we justify ourselves by believing that our circumstances allow for a variance from moral and ethical perfection.

Third, we accept an error only briefly. Then brush it off and forget about it (or at least try).

Fourth, we acknowledge we did not do what is right, then compare ourselves to someone else or a fictional person saying, “At least I am not as bad as that person.”

Fifth, we know we are sinful and accept having little control over ourselves. Then we respond by dropping all inhibition and control. We purposefully and deceptively are evil.

Sixth, we accept, acknowledge, and confess to God and another that we have sinned and are not rightious. We are heartfully sorrowful for our actions and desire to sin no more. We ask God for forgiveness and the strength and courage to live a life that is right with Him and others.

The last one is freedom from the drudge of sin. The last is the beginning of living life to the full. The last is only possible because of Jesus the Christ.

BDBD is 7:15-18

The sum of these verses is, “The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.” Moderation was a common life practice of past generations. Solomon and I witnessed that some righteous and some wicked go to extremes to their ruin (15-17). He and I also witnessed that some wise people become so book-headed that they are useless and empty, just as some fools become so much so that they live in utter poverty or the insane institution.

How does fear of God help a person to live a balanced lifestyle? These verses guarantee that if I fear God I will not be legalistic religious and not evil; both of which destroy self. What is fear of God? Fearing God is similar to loving God. In fact, one cannot truly exist without the other. These two are part of a life of moderation; fear God and love God.

Fearing God is deeply understanding that he can control everything; God is in charge. Fearing God means I know he knows the motivation of my actions. (2 Cor. 5:11) God knows my inner thoughts and feelings. Fearing God has the knowledge and belief that he judges every action, feeling, and thought.

Thus, the person who fears God will avoid all extremes.

BDBD is Eccl. 7:13-14

God’s work cannot be undone or changed (13). Consider God’s work carefully. Solomon was not fatalistic when he states, “Who can straighten what God has made crooked?” Rather, he wants me to consider what God has done.

Human nature considered God weak and unproductive in the world until something happens that we do not like. Then we are unhappy, upset, and even angry at God. When good things happen in our life perhaps some will thank him; a few may even worship him. Yet we usually do not acknowledge that God brings the good and the bad (14). God is sadly too often removed from our hearts and minds.

“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made he one as well as the other. (14)” Reverence and fear of the Lord can be born from this truth. Some don’t want to believe that God made bad times and others don’t want to accept that he is responsible for the good, not them.

I can write so much on this topic (and have). Yet, my heart says, “Wake up oh sleeping soul. Consider God. Consider your life. You do not know what will happen tomorrow or in one hour. Turn your heart over to Jesus. Eat him into your soul and you will be able to feast on his love and strength.”

     Great and marvelous are your deeds, 
     Lord God Almighty. 
     Just and true are your ways, 
     King of the ages. 
     4Who will not fear you, O Lord, 
     and bring glory to your name? 
     For you alone are holy. 
     All nations will come 
     and worship before you, 
     for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:3–4)

BDBD is Eccl. 7:10

Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.” Simple enough verse that leaves many questions to consider.

Why do people ask open-ended questions? No one expects this question to be answered. Even when they receive an exact answer it is not what they want to hear. In fact, this open-ended question is not meant to be answered.

No one who asks, “Why were the old days better than these?” really wants this question answered. Rather, they are expressing two points; the old days were better and they are not happy with their life. The first point “the old days were better” does not really matter to them.

So then self-examination questions that need to be asked and answered are:

Were the old days really better? What do you miss about the past? Why are you unhappy? What changes can and should you do? Why remain a stick in the mud? Is the problem really external or is it in you?

Solomon says that it is not wise to ask, “Why were the old days better than these?” because living in the past is unhealthy and unwise. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) Make a decision right now to change your attitude and perspective.

BDBD is Eccl. 7:8-9

The Teacher of Ecclesiastes has repeatedly stated, “Everyone can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work (toilsome labor) under the sun during the few days of life God has given him. This is from the hand of God, a gift. Then joy will accompany him in his work. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (2:24, 3:12-13, 5:18-20, 8:15, 9:7, 12:13-14).

The approach to life under heaven, in the Teacher’s view, is to find satisfaction in work. Yet he also states that work is toilsome. Toilsome labor can bring frustration, disgruntlement, anger, and even hate. So how to have satisfaction in toilsome labor?

The first direction to enabling the best that life can be made into is to have endurance (8). “The end of a matter is better than its beginning…” When either I set my will to do something or when something is thrust on me I need to keep the goal and prize at the end of the task in mind. Surely life under the sun since Adam and Eve were forced out of the garden setbacks and disappointments will come. The greater the task, the more toil is needed. By keeping my eye on the goal I will be able to continue and in even start the task over.

The second direction is related to the first. I need to be patient (8). When setting a goal and keeping my will set on the goal impatience creeps into my heart. I want the goal now. So I am tempted to take shortcuts and accept mediocre results as the labor continues. This brings setbacks and diminishes to gift of satisfaction of a work well done when the job is finished. “By standing firm, you will gain life.” (Luke 21:11)

The third direction to the approach to a task and a job is to be slow to anger (9). “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit to anger…” Often, if not always when in the middle of the strive to reach a goal there will be people and events that will cause even the calmest to be provoked into anger. The ability to control anger is gained and matured through continual execution of it. One of the unrecognized gifts of toilsome labor is that it presents times to improve the resistance to be quickly moved to an angry reaction.

When Jesus was teaching in the temple he saw the evil conducting of business in the temple courts that interfered with praying and his teaching. At that time he was not quick to anger. He surveyed the religious crime and left the temple in the evening. He prayed and returned the next day. This is when he upset the exchange tables and chasted out the business activities in the temple. (Mark 10:11-20)

So then, three important tools for gaining satisfaction in work are to have patience and endurance, to be patient, and to not be quickly provoked in my spirit to anger.

BDBD is Eccl. 7:3-6

Knowing and accepting that the life I now live under the sun is just the beginning. Knowing and accepting now that the choices I make now will affect how I live the next stage of life under eternity. Knowing these makes verses like these completely understandable and wise.

Why makes my face sad (3)? Why does my heart get down? Sometimes I do not know the reason. Sometimes it is a dream I had just before I awoke and got out of bed. Always sadness is my response to events I didn’t want nor like to happen. Sadness should always be followed with reflection on the reason for the state I am in and strengthening my will to focus on better things happening right now. Sadness can and should have me focus on Christ. “You will have trouble in this world. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Happy times generally teach me less than hard times (4). Knowing this makes me appreciate the hard times better. A day will come when I will thank God for allowing me time to mourn. In this life, I thank God for the times of pleasure often and the times of mourning practically never. In the next life, I will thank him for the times of mourning that I experience now because they will have lead to a good life in the next. Mourning is a part of the road of salvation.

Today the response to a rebuke is personally attacking the wise rebuker. Yet, a wise man’s rebuke will lead to a closer walk with God (5). David’s response to the prophet’s rebuke was a much better response than Saul’s response to the prophet’s rebuke.

Thorns burning make a lot of sounds but produce no heat (6). Thus thorns are not a fuel to use to cook dinner. The laughter of fools is usually generated by alcohol, sarcasm, and sadistic jokes. Such laughter does not help the soul. Being happy is subject to the environment. Joy is subject to the presence of God’s Spirit. The gift of God is love, joy, and peace. These are good for the soul.

BDBD is Eccl. 7:1-2

A good name is better than a fine perfume (1). A good name is when people speak well about you when you are not around to hear them. Two ways exist for a person to have a good name. One is to advertise causing others to speak about someone they really don’t know. The second is to do kind acts for others, treating them with love and respect. The selfless person is the fragrant aroma of a flower garden in the barnyard of many people’s lives.

The day of death is better than the day of birth. The Christian has ample reasons to say this (2 Cor. 5:1-10; Phil. 1:21-23). However, the Teacher’s point is valid, as expounded upon in verses 2 thru 6.

It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting. (2)” The house of mourning is the funeral home. The house of feasting is most likely a wedding banquet. His point here is that the hard times teach us more than happy times. This is not to say we cannot learn during happy times. Just that we are not likely to choose to seek the growing potential in the house of feasting. Show me a couple who remained lovingly loyal to each other when they went through hard times and I will see a deeply mature relationship.

Lastly, “Death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. (2)” I have seen a building go up that the owners did not plan well. When it can time to move in and use it it was deemed unfit for occupation and torn down. Life under the sun is the time to consider death and prepare. First, make wise health, emotional, social, and economic choices when young and maintain them. Most importantly make a sound religious choice. Chose God so that it will go well with you when you stand before Him at the judgment seat.

BDBD is Eccl. 6:10-12

These three verses consider God and humans. God has already named everything that has ever and will ever exist (10). God knows everything about every one of us (10). He knows who we are and why we do what we do; past, present, and future. Nothing takes God by surprise.

Humans individually and collectively are not stronger than God (10). No one can resist God. Yet God does not force himself on anyone. He lets us choose him or reject him. He lets us choose a life of his love or a life of hard frustration and meaningless; a chasing after the wind. The former has great rewards. The latter means death.

Us humans speak so much to God and about God. The more words, the less the meaning (11). Some people chatter on and on. Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for our Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:7-8) Many words do not prophet mortals (11).

A famous writer once said in his latter years, “I spent most of my life making plans that never happened.” A musician said something similar, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” I do not know my future (12). God does. God seldom tells a person the events of the day as they awake. Better yet he gives me sound advice. “Love me and love my neighbor.”

BDBD is Eccl. 6:8-9

The way we interact with others is important. Every society, social group, and personal socializing has rules of conduct. The boundaries are sometimes good and other times evil. These boundaries are known yet often overstepped for a variety of reasons; some reasons are good, other reasons are evil. Most human societies place a higher value on the wise and wealthy. Though many foolish and poor people know how to conduct themselves before others they are usually overlooked and thus gain little if nothing in social settings (8,9). Solomon considered the complicity of these debatable and elusive rewards in life.

Often our fallen human nature deals with debatable and elusive rewards in human society with uncontrollable impulses and addictions. One such addiction is eating disorders (10). Many respond to social interactions by refusing to eat and by eating either too much or unhealthy foods. This has a devastating effect on the body that only exasperates the disorder. Solomon concludes, “This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Recognizing the trap of an eating disorder and the love, justice, and power of God can an eating disorder be overcome.

BDBD is Eccl. 6:3-7

God gives people gifts so that we can thank him and enjoy them. If all a person does is work hard labor to obtain more and thus does not enjoy the gifts of God and thank him, then it would be better if that person had not been born. Even if rich people live many years without experiencing anything good, don’t they die worse than a stillborn who at least was in peace? This is the sum of verses 3 thru 6.

Yet what are gifts of God? Do we just work to eat? Everything we work hard for goes into our mouths and yet we are not satisfied (7). There are many short-lived rewards of life such as this. Satisfying the seven senses is ever-increasing labor when it is a person’s sole goal. For the senses can never satisfy the soul with a dead spirit. The brain demands the senses to seek for more as it searches to awaken the dead spirit that its senses, yet does not comprehend. Short-lived rewards are not our chief end, though they are meant to be gifts.

“The gift (fruit) of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–25).

BDBD is Eccl. 6:1-2

What is it you want and desire? Why do you want and desire that? Search to the core. The fundamentals of all desires and wants are love, joy, peace, satisfaction, happiness, and contentment. So then, will that want and desire provide these fundamental core human needs?

Solomon has been considering wealth as a means to obtain the fundamental core human needs throughout the book of Ecclesiastes. A known truth is that the more wealth a person has the more access to the things of this world they have. Solomon had more wealth than any of his neighbors, peers, and generations before and after. Yet in the latter years of his life, he was left with hard questions to answer as he search the core of his soul. The wisest man of his time can to some shocking realizations.

One realization is classified as evil (1) for it is a heavy weight on many souls. God gives many wealth, possessions, and honor. Yet, God does not let these have the power for people who obtained them to enjoy them. God does not allow nor give many people the power to enjoy the wealth, possessions, and honor he gives them. Instead, someone else enjoys the wealth, possession, and honor they were given (2). Solomon declares the conclusion, “This is pointless and a painful tragedy.” It is a grievous evil.

Consider carefully what you want and desire. Will it satisfy core fundamental human needs? The ability to enjoy God’s worldly blessings is a bonus, a gift of God, not a right or guarantee. God calls the person with wealth and possessions a fool if they haven’t found the truth of how to be rich toward God.

Jesus said that God says too many, “‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:20-21)

BDBD is Eccl. 5:16-20

The theme of this book is repeated here a second time. Yet in each place, it is stated in a slightly different way (2:24-25; 3:12-13, 22; 5:18-20; 8:15; 9:7). Each person has a choice; accept that God exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Life without God is meaningless toil to build wealth because we believe that will bring peace, satisfaction, and happiness. Yet no matter how much we obtain we die to find it was all chasing after the wind, meaning it is never obtained (16). The person who chooses to deny God eats (spends life) in darkness with great frustration, affliction, and anger (17).

Life with God is good and proper. We eat and drink, and find satisfaction in our toilsome labor (18). We know that when God gives wealth and possessions and enables us to enjoy them it is his gift (19). Such people won’t give much thought to their brief lives because God keeps them occupied with the joy in their hearts (20).

Yes, it is possible to go through life with toilsome labor and yet have joy. “How much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” (Roman 5:17) Through Jesus, the gift of God is more than the wealth of physical possession. The gifts of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, forbearance, goodness, and self-control.

BDBD is Eccl. 5:13-15

Wealth; most want it, most believe they don’t have enough, most toil endlessly to obtain it, many fear losing it, and some hoard it to the harm of its owner (13). Scroodge comes to mind when thinking of this kind of person. Yet, what about my actions? How much and to what extent does obtaining wealth affect my feelings, thoughts, and actions?

Jesus taught, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

Jesus also said, “What good is it if a man gain’s the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” God is not impressed with my wealth and my possessions so much so that when I die I won’t take any of them with me (16).

BDBD is Eccl. 5:11-12

I am examining my room and the place where I live to see what I have chosen to own. I have consumed more than I know. Some of what I own has a purpose; a chair, a stove, a bed, and a shower. Yet much that is hanging and laying around is for ambiance; a picture, a statue, a hanging ceiling, and plants. Much of what is laying and hanging around is merely to look at (11).

It does not matter how much I have, when I move I realize that I have much more than what I had realized (11). Two years ago I accepted that much that I owned I hadn’t looked at for a while. I have moved several times only to find I was lugging around things I really didn’t need and no longer wanted. So I either gave them away, threw them away, or sold them at ridiculously low prices. As my goods increased and became financially acquirable, so I consumed them only later to throw them away.

What is better? Buy many flower beds or work the ground, plant seeds and plants, to nurture them and admire the results of the labor? Which makes a person content and happy when they sleep? The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep (12). A rich man worries about not having enough and losing what they have.

BDBD is Eccl. 5:8-10

Human society under the sun is made and maintained by flawed humans. The people who govern society obtain money and wealth from those they are meant to govern. The more layers of hierarchy the more finances are required and often demanded (8,9).

When the poor are oppressed, and justice and rights are denied we should not be surprised because this has been going on in every human society to one degree or another for thousands of years (8). The government style and how people come to power do not suddenly change selfish human nature.

We believe that wealth will bring total peace, deep satisfaction, and contentment. When these do not come we do not suddenly realize that our belief in the healing powers of wealth is flawed. Rather we believe we have not achieved the goal of total peace, deep satisfaction, and contentment because we do not have enough wealth. Whoever loves money, therefore, never has money enough. Whoever loves wealth, therefore, is never satisfied with his income. They keep seeking more because “just a little bit more” surely will bring total peace, deep satisfaction, and contentment.

Many have unconditional love for wealth. Even though it never satisfies they want more of it.

Life under the sun is chasing after the wind.

BDBD is Eccl. 5:4-7

The concept of making a vow and promise often means little when living a life under the sun. We say, “I promise…”, “By God, I am going to…”, and “I vow that I will…” to assure and strengthen our resolve and will. And we say vows and promises to assure and comfort someone. And sometimes we say the as a sware. Yet, most of the time we have so little control of ourselves and the world that we really don’t know if we can keep promises and vows.

The Bible does not forbid vows and promises. In fact, it has a lot to say about them (Num. 9:6, Deut. 23:21-23, Eccl. 5:4-7, Matt. 5:33-37). A fool in God’s eyes is not someone who is not educated, cannot learn, or not intelligent. God says a fool is a person who does not learn, refuses to acknowledge the truth, has no moral or ethical integrity, and who makes a vow and does not or will not make every effort to keep the vow (4).

God says, “It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.” (5) One of the often overlooked parts of the human soul is our will. Personal will is a desire and motivation within emotions and mind that I am going to do something. My will can lead to simple-to-achieve acts such as getting out of bed, eating, and walking. My will can lead to hard-to-achieve acts like winning an Olympic gold medal, creating something new and amazing, and raising accomplished and successful children.

A vow is verbalizing or writing our will. Words spoken have power over me and will lead to consequences. God warns, “Do not let your mouth lead you into sin.” (6) If my will is totally set on accomplishing something, and I make a vow I lock it in my soul and forever sets consequences. Words spoken and written are eternally accountable. Never take them lightly.

What happens when I make a vow and for whatever reason, I did not keep it? I cannot make excuses as Saul did to Samuel the prophet and messenger of the temple (6). For when Saul did not keep his vow to Samuel he had an excuse and not a confession of sin. His life work was destroyed and the kingdom of Israel was taken from him and his descendants forever.

Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of and fear God.”

BDBD is Eccl. 5:1-3

Superficial religion is a substitute for fear and love of God for the self-justified while living under the sun. This is the theme in the first 7 verses of chapter 5. I need to guard and watch my actions before God (1). I need to think about what I do and say and examine my heart.

A foolish person puts on a shell of religion. Their heart and mind are not in it. They do not know what they are doing. They do not know that shell religion is evil in the eyes of God. They do not listen nor obey God (1).

The tongue can be more powerful than a ship’s rutter. The tongue can be more destructive than a termite behind walls. I should not be in a hurry to speak before God (2). When I pray my words are to be precise and to the point. Jesus said, “Let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no. I need to listen to God more than speak to him. Prayerful and grateful meditation is wise.

Dreams are mysterious and descriptive. A starving person will dream of a banquet. A thirsty person will dream of swimming in pools. A person of worry dreams often and their dreams are of endlessly trying to solve something they have little or no control over and also of bliss. Similar is the speech of a fool with many words. Rash words are spoken by fools (3).

BDBD is Eccl. 4:13-16

Here is a story of a young lad who was wise but poor (13). His beginning is a bit of a mystery. Some believe he was in prison. Others believe he was born in poverty. Still, others believed both (14). The wise young man’s beginning was not important to his few followers. Yet this wise young lad was shunned because of his poverty. His wealth of knowledge was untapped by the masses.

The king reigning in the young man’s kingdom was old, foolish, and either no longer cared to take counsel and warnings, or he became too complacent and lacked concern for those in his kingdom to heed to advice (14). No matter what those who were living under his rule suffered and they knew it was the king to blame.

The king has a son, also a young lad. He was like his father, his grandfather, and the long line of his ancestors who reigned before him. The horde of people in the kingdom lived without fear or love of God. They lived under the sun like their aged king. They followed the king’s son who would be his successor (15,16). The lad’s generation will not rejoice in the successor’s rule.

The moral of the story of the wise young lad is that a kingdom whose people live without God is chasing after the wind. They live in prejudice and same old, same old. They do not follow God. They do not seek his will and counsel. They live meaningless lives in misery and toil.

Solomon, who was old and turned to foreign idols when he wrote this must have seen that his son who would be king, Rehoboam was a fool who would not follow wise advice. He was following the Godless lifestyle of his aged father. Instead, of seeking the Lord, Rehoboam tried to rule the Israelites cruelly and in the process destroyed Israel. From his own life and rule, Solomon saw that living under the sun was meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

BDBD is Eccl. 4:7-12

Outside of Christ, the loaner has a meaningless and difficult life (7,8). He toils to build wealth, forgoing enjoyment, and has forsaken a legacy to pass it onto. He does not make the effort to find friends nor take the risk to find a companion of the opposite sex to love and be loved.

Even a believer if alone has no one to support and heal them (9-12). Some chose to be monks in a community. This is not them. These verses are talking about the individual that chooses to remain alone. They forgo to the gift of having a friend to help them up when down (10) or work together with someone to make a better life (11).

Jesus brought this one step further by making it a command. He said, “

I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (Luke 16:9) Wealth here is not just money. The great commission includes friendship-making (Matthew 28:19).

BDBD is Eccl. 4:4-6

Necessity is the mother of invention,” is an old saying. Invention is the twin sibling of achievement. Verse 4 reveals the father of necessity and achievement. “All labor and all achievement spring from envy (jealousy) of his neighbor.” Covet is a half-sibling of envy.

What then are jealousy and envy? Jealousy is an emotion and mood; apparently, a powerful one to result is so much chasing after the wind.

Two main definitions of jealousy are “resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself,” and “mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims.”

The conscience battlefield finds want and needs standing off against each other. Do I want that? Or do I need that? Do I envy my neighbor or rival? Or do I celebrate success with a friend and colleague?

A mantra of advertising is, “Create a need so that desire gives birth to profit.” Another mantra is, “Awake envy so that a fashion statement gives birth to more profit.”

So a need requires money and envy requires even more money. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind (4). Doing nothing is the failure of many fools (5). And toiling hard just to impress a rival is just as destructive and meaningless (6). In the end both never satisfy, bring peace and contentment, and both are just as destructive.

Jesus declared, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30).

BDBD is Eccl. 4:1-3

Life under the sun is full of hard toil that really does not amount to much in the end. Meaningless is the conclusion of life under heaven; life between birth and death for the person who does not love nor fear God.

Life under the sun also includes oppression, lots of oppression (1). Some ask, “Why does God allow suffering and oppression?”

Humans,” begins an answer, “are more inclined to oppress their neighbor than comfort them. Why do we inflict oppression? And why do we allow suffering and oppression? Why does a crowd watch a bully oppress another rather than help the oppressed?”

Everyone is subject to oppression. Everyone oppresses another sometime in their life. We excuse ourselves by saying we were justified. Yet, the truth remains.

Death often is more appealing than life under the sun (2). The unborn who have not seen the evil is better than life under the sun (3).

Better than these is to accept Jesus into the heart. He promises hope, peace, and love while living under the sun.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

    “For your sake we face death all day long; 
     we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35–39).

BDBD is Eccl. 3:18-22

God has an eternal plan with a holy destination that we do not know about other than what is told us in the Scriptures (given by the Spirit) and told to us by the one who came from the destination, the Son of God. Yet that picture is like looking from a foggy seashore to find a boat on the horizon and its destination beyond. Even when the fog thins, the ship may be found, but the image of the destination is curved below the horizon. The destination remains hidden. The eternal plan remains a mystery.

Mankind individually perceives eternity and infinite existence. And we know that absolute holiness and perfect love exists. We experience these and yet we cannot grasp their meaning or their entirety. We cannot grasp them and yet we contemplate their existence. We react similarly to the perception of God’s existence. God has placed in the core of our being the awareness that He exists. Yet because we cannot grasp the entirety of his being we question his existence. God’s nature remains a mystery.

Mankind’s inadequacy to comprehend eternity, the infinite, absolute holiness, perfect love, and God’s character was not always a part of our being. Nor does our inadequacy need to remain. To regain the ability to know (dwell in wholeness) of the mystery of God is possible. We cannot only see the destination, but we can exist in it. Until then we need to step from the foggy shore onto the boat headed to the horizon and beyond the final destiny.

Till the destination is reached God tests us (18). The tests are refinements of the soul (mind, heart, and will). The initial state of mankind when born is incapable of reaching the destination beyond the horizon. Refinements via test are needed. The result of one type of test is designed to help us accept that we are like animals. The end result of the unprepared and unchanged soul is death (19). Like animals, we come from dust, and dust our body returns (20). The reality of our mortality must be established and accepted. Fear of death and that it is orchestrated by God is the beginning of wisdom.

Then the forever-nagging reality of eternity, the infinite, absolute holiness, perfect love, and God’s character leads us to the question, “Who can bring me to see what will happen after I die?” (21) “Can I experience even a little bit of the destination now?” I am here to say, “Yes. God has made a way for us to experience him for he is the all-encompassing destination that awaits.”

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” (John 14:9–11).

Jesus continued, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:16–20)

BDBD is Eccl. 3:16-17

Solomon was the king of Israel. He had complete authority. Israel had a court system. He was the supreme court of Israel. When he looked at the justices under him he saw wickedness. Where there should have been fair and righteous judgment and justice there was only wickedness (16).

Solomon must have been sad and outraged at the injustice of his time. His council was that God will bring judgment on all the injustice and wickedness (17). Yet he knew that not only the wicked would be judged. The righteous will also have their time before God’s judgment (18). God will listen to the account of every deed.

Social injustice is a common outcry to this day. Every generation experiences injustice. This is nothing new under the sun.

I can sit here and think of an injustice court system. However, when I do that I become a judge. In fact, when I honestly think about it I judge others often. The New Testament points out, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” (Romans 2:1–3). And it also says, “So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? (Romans 2:3).

Rather than point fingers at others, I need to point one at myself. Jesus taught, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:4, Luke 6:42)

BDBD is Eccl. 3:15

3:15 is similar to 1:9.

1:9 "What has been will be again,
     what has been done will be done again;
     there is nothing new under the sun."
3:15 "Whatever is has already been, 
     and what will be has been before; 
     and God will call the past to account."

God is in charge. There is so much we cannot control. I cannot stop the sun from rising and setting in the sky. I cannot stop the moon and stars in their course in the sky. I cannot stop the four seasons coming and going in their cycle. Verses 1 thru 8 speak of the cycles of activity under heaven. They come and go and I cannot stop them. Generation after generation experiences them all.

Something else I cannot resist, stop, nor avoid. God will call the decisions I make into account (15). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

Some believe that those who have put their faith in Christ will not stand before Jesus. If that were so then why did Jesus tell his disciples, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words before men, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:28, Luke 9:26) This can only apply to someone who had already put their faith in Jesus.

I need to be prepared every morning. I do not know what trials I may be subject to today. I need to review my thoughts, emotions, and actions. I will need to confess my errors and work on the soul imperfections that God was working on during the day. I would be devastated if Jesus was ashamed of me at the Bema seat. I cannot be self-confident. I need to be Spirit confident.

BDBD is Eccl. 3:9-15

Living under the sun (existing in the belief God does not exist or is absent) is so meaningless that it is absurdly and irritatingly frustrating. The atheists’ and agnostics’ illusions cannot avoid a nagging deploy that God has placed in our hearts (10). God has set eternity in our hearts, and yet we are unable to fathom what God has done from beginning to end (11). We cannot discover it. We cannot understand it. We cannot grasp it. We know there is a reason, but the human mind is incapable of processing all the information. We cannot come to a reasonable and true answer. How frustrating this is!

We ask, “Why? What is the meaning of life? What do I gain from all this toil? (9)” Being godless and still having eternity set in the heart leaves a person neither satisfied with what they are nor with their answers that try to understand God’s purpose in all this. The material rationalist cannot rationally answer the questions of life. This is a great source of frustration!

The person that capitulates to the lovingly unrelenting God discovers the solution, and in that finds peace. The frustration goes away, vanishing like steam in the air and rain soaking in the earth. The believer in Jesus learns that “there is nothing better than to rejoice and be happy and do good while they live. They learn God’s gift is also that we find satisfaction and joy in all the good that comes from our toil. We accept God’s gifts. (12,13)” The answers to life’s whys are no longer relevant to those who love and fear God.

C.S. Lewis in all his education and wisdom eventually capitulated after a long frustrating search for the why’s. He listened to and slowly accepted the words of his friends J. R. R. Tolkien, Nevill Coghill, Lord David Cecil, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and his brother Warren Lewis. He began calling himself “The Most Reluctant Convert”. I suggest watching the recent movie “C.S. Lewis, the Most Reluctant Convert.”

BDBD is Eccl. 3:1-8

Everybody’s life is an enigma existence. A moment’s choice for me now is later a contradiction of ethics, morality, and reason by a new choice made under the same situation. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (1). My reason for doing something now will be the reason I do the opposite tomorrow.

Though time is mentioned 15 times in these verses it is not the subject. Time is the device I use to explain, reason, and justify conflicting decisions and actions. Everyone is capable of every righteous and evil act ever implemented by those before in the time we have been allotted to live “under heaven”.

The person who lives “under heaven”, that is apart from God and his ways makes their own moral anchors. They give themselves ethical guidelines to help themselves in decision-making.

One person’s ethical mantra will be to acquire wealth while another’s will be to do everything for family and/or children. The first person will plant only if the profit justifies the risk, whereas the second will plant if the family and children are hungry (1).

One person’s ethical mantra will be to stay sober while another’s will be to receive the acclaim and adoration of everyone. The first person may kill if someone continually manipulates them back into their addiction, whereas the second will kill if somone is about to reveal a dark secret that will bring disgrace and public shame (3).

The principle here can be applied to all fourteen conflicting life events listed in these verses.

Here then are two enigmas of human existence; a decision and action complimented today will need to be self-justified when repeated later, and moral rules made “under heaven” will find a reason to do anything given the right circumstances.

Quoting Elijah, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21) And quoting Joshua, “Choses for yourself who you will serve this day… As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) Make your own life rules or follow the Holy Spirit.