DAILY DISCIPLINE #70
By Colleen Donahue
If ever men were looking for truth, meaning and reality, it's today. In my relatively short lifetime I have watched the anti-establishment, peace movements of the 60's, the environmental, social movements of the 70's, the free-living, eat-drink-and be merry crowd of the 80's and now the "Yuppie" era- those success oriented young folks able to gather stability around them and live safe, successful lives amidst a deteriorating society. But is this search for meaning and truth only displayed in the 20th century? Of course not. Each new generation of man finding himself in new environments and situations, looks for the reason and purpose for his living and thus seeks for truth. Some men, like Solomon of our study, know the truth - won't accept it and keep searching until they eventually come back to the truth they knew all along! For two months we have wandered with Solomon through his search for meaning, truth, and happiness. We have gone through the mires of science, philosophy, intellectualism, pleasure, materialism and fatalism. Now this study we'll continue not only with Solomon's search for truth and reality but with some of his observations, admonitions and conclusions.
SOLOMON- Part 3 - Conclusions About Life's Meaning
SEARCH FOR SATISFACTION THROUGH SELFISH AMBITION
Day 1- It was a great honor for Solomon to be commissioned by God to build the temple (the house of God) but notice the size of his own palace, his own home and his wife's home by comparison!
I Kings 6:2-3, 38/ 7:1-8
Day 2 -These next verses list many of Solomon's projects and accomplishments. Who were they for?
Day 3 -When he thought about what had motivated all his accomplishments, what conclusion did he reach?
Day 4- God has meant our work to be for a much greater purpose than just ourselves. Read His original commission to us.
Day 5- There is nothing wrong with evaluating our work and purposes, but Solomon like many today felt that its benefits should be to ourselves first.
Day 6- Even the practical advise of these next verses can well be from the motivation of self-advancement and preservation rather than the up-building and success of others to the glory of God.
Day 7- When Solomon finally stepped back to look at all his ambitious accomplishments he seemed to see three things clearly.
It is difficult to say at what point Solomon's sincere love for God turned to just formal religion. But his advise over the next verses seem to indicate that he himself had back-slid into formalism which many church goers today find themselves a part of.
Day 8- He first addresses the constant verbal activity that goes on when we go to church as though going to a social event.
Day 9- What should our behavior be when we go to church to worship?
Ecclesiastes 5:2-3 / Exodus 3:5
Day 10- When love of God turns to dead religious activity, there is a lot of talk with little action --vows made and not kept--pious sentiment from sinful hearts. What warning does Solomon give?
Day 11- Many people today want nothing to do with church and are turned off by all the holy talk and lack of holy action. Conversely there are many religious people doing good, religious activities from selfish motives. What is God's attitude toward "religiosity"?
Isaiah 1:11-15 / Isaiah 29:13 / Matthew 23:23
Day 12- God is not interested in our "religion". He is interested in our love for Him expressed through our willing obedience.
I Samuel 15:22 / Micah 6:6-8/ John 14:15,21,23-24
Day 13- The only religion that counts with God is expressed in similar ways throughout scripture.
Deuteronomy 10:12/ Hosea 6:6/ Mark 12:33/ James 1:27
If ever a man was qualified to talk concerning money and overall wealth it was Solomon. As one of the richest men the world has known, he had "seen it all".
Day 14- Riches in themselves are not bad. In fact, where do they come from?
Deuteronomy 8:18/ I Chronicles 29:12/ Ecclesiastes 5:19
Day 15- Problems begin when a man or woman loves money and the making of money as the consuming motivation in their life. what will happen to them?
Ecclesiastes 5:10-12 / I Timothy 6:10
Day 16- When a man or woman loves money, his satisfaction lies in the accumulation of it rather than in the dispersion of it to make life better for all. What doesn't he consider?
Ecclesiastes 5:13-17/ Psalm 49:10/ Proverbs 27:24/ Luke 12:16-21/ I Timothy 6:7
Day 17- When a person is able to use his/her wealth as God intended what do they find themselves occupied with?
Day 18- Solomon saw that man can't acquire anything unless God permits him to have it. He describes now a relatively common occurrence of the person that has all he needs or wants but.......
Day 19- The natural man (or man without God) works mainly for his mouth, but finds his soul with an insatiable appetite that can't be satisfied with wealth.
Day 20- Through wealth man might feel powerful and independent for a time but he cannot "dispute with one stronger than he" - i.e. God.
EAT, DRINK, AND BE MERRY?
Up until now, this has been Solomon's "under-the-sun" philosophy. But now in our last chapters of Ecclesiastes he is beginning to "sober up" and see that man must consider his end and final destination. Solomon begins to talk again about wisdom and does so almost 35 times in the last half of Ecclesiastes
Day 21- With a change in mind, Solomon expresses himself with a change in his writing. He now uses a series of comparative couplets. Can up pick out 7 specific things that are "better than" their counterparts?
But why shouldn't I "Eat, drink and be merry?" Why not run wild and follow all my emotional urges? Why come back to wisdom and to God?
Day 22- Solomon says wisdom offers two major benefits. It preserves our lives from human pitfalls and it provides our lives with divine perspective.
Day 23- Wisdom can also give us balance in life - balance to grasp one thing but not to let go of another.
Day 24- Wisdom gives strength which Solomon illustrates with a little story in Chapter 9.
Ecclesiastes 7:19 / 9:13-18
THE SEARCH FOR DEEP THINGS AND WHAT SOLOMON FOUND
Day 25- Solomon, perhaps in seeing his own life, starts out with a premise on man which he clarifies later.
Day 26- He saw that often men treat us a certain way because we have been the same to them or others.
Day 27- Solomon's "back-slidden" state at this time is reflected by his search for knowledge - both good AND evil.
Day 28- As a man with 700 wives and 300 concubines, Solomon had plenty of time to explore relationships. They did not satisfy him and many times ensnared him.
Day 29- Do we have the right to say to God "What are you doing?" Now Solomon WAS THE KING - perhaps he is speaking to himself here in regards to God. God's word is supreme.
Day 30- What else did Solomon find?
A- Ecclesiastes 8: 6-7 Re: Man's trouble
B- Ecclesiastes 8: 8-9 Re: Evils and death
C- Ecclesiastes 8:10-13 Re: Wicked men
Day 31- After all his deep searching Solomon is left with 2 empty, pessimistic conclusions....
1. Since injustice is so great, just eat, drink and be merry while you can.
2. Man can never satisfy his quest for knowledge and the deep truths in life no matter how hard he searches.
Ecclesiastes 8: 16-17
If these "deep truths" and conclusions leave you "flat" then take heart. Next month Solomon begins to round a corner and to come back to the real truth he's known all along!
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