Vanity, vanity, meaningless, meaningless

Casting Away Stones
Week One – An Introduction to Ecclesiastes 3
Heart verse:
I perceived that what God does endures forever
                                                               Ecclesiastes 3:14a

Day One – Vanity, vanity, meaningless, meaningless
Oh, Solomon, Solomon! Wouldn’t it have been amazing to see the man in all his splendor back in the day? Every time I picture Solomon, I’m reminded of an article I read when I was about 8 years old, in some kind of major magazine, People or Time or something. The article was about Imelda Marcos, a former first lady of the Philippines, who was rumored to have over 3,000 pair of shoes. I still remember gawking at the pictures in the magazine article. Glossy images of luxurious clothes and robes, I’m almost positive there were plush seats in the closet and drawers upon drawers of jewelry and bags. And the famous rows upon rows of shoes. It was a little girl’s dream come true, right there, laid out before me. In Sunday school, I heard the stories of Solomon – his wealth, his wives, his wisdom, his vast kingdom. In my mind, Solomon was the male version of Imelda Marcos and those images still spring to mind to this day!
Solomon, we know had lots of stuff. He had lots of wives and children. At one point at least, he had a solid relationship with God. Solomon asks for wisdom in 2nd Chronicles 1 (or 1st Kings 3) and we see him graced by God with so much more.

I believe it was the “more” that started to weigh on Solomon.
You see, he knew. I think Solomon knew that “more” just may be difficult to handle.
2 Chronicles 1:6-12
Solomon went up to the bronze altar before the Lord in the tent of meeting and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it.
That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”
By the time we encounter the Solomon in Ecclesiastes, we get the Solomon who has it all and who has tried it all.
Ecclesiastes 2:9-11
I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
    I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
    and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
    and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
    nothing was gained under the sun.
Solomon tells us he wasn’t just given it all, he pursued it all. Through the pages of Ecclesiastes chapters 1 and 2, Solomon shares that he tried fame, fortune, knowledge, work, people, and pleasure. And Solomon found the truth. None of it satisfies.
In our house, if you mention the book of Ecclesiastes, someone will respond by shouting out, “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless!” It’s an ongoing joke, but also a good reminder of a reality written all over the pages in Solomon’s wisdom filled, heart-poured-out ink:
Without God, it’s all meaningless.
With God, every single thing has purpose and meaning.
The good, the hard, the gathering of stones, the casting away of stones, every bit of it…meaningful, purposeful, woven with His grace and significance.

I’m excited to spend the coming weeks with you all, gleaning from Solomon’s experiences, discovering the poetic heart of our God, loosening and stretching our hearts to His plans and purposes.
This week we will tackle a brief introduction to all things Ecclesiastes by focusing on some commentary and background, as well a honing in on verse 1 of chapter 3, discovering a bit more about God’s timing.
Week 1 –
Day One: Vanity, vanity, meaningless, meaningless
Day Two: Our friend Ulysses and desperation
Day Three: To everything there is a season
Day Four: God’s time, my time, and getting them on the same page
Day Five: Finding ourselves a Solomon
Hope to see you tomorrow, friends!
Until then, remember this…“Meaningful, meaningful, everything is meaningful!” J
Discussion questions:
If you could have more of something in your closet, what would it be?
If you would have been in Solomon’s place, what would you have requested from God?
What experiences have you had or do you remember with Solomon? (ie Sunday school memories, past Bible study conversations, etc.)

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