Anthony Gammage – Ecclesiastes 1:1-3
1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
3 What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?
And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
“We are prompted by our own ills to contemplate the good things of God: and we cannot seriously aspire to him before we begin to become displeased with ourselves.”
-Calvin’s Institutes, 1.1.1
5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah
3 O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? 4 Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.
14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”
The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
“Qoheleth plans to bring us to that point last of all [Fear of God], when we are desperate for an answer. There are hints of it in passing, but his main approach is from the other end: the resolve to see how far a man will get with no such basis. He puts himself – and us – in the shoes of the humanist or secularist…the person who starts his thinking from man and observable world, and knows God only from a distance.”
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
Then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.
“Ecclesiastes is not the kind of book where we keep reading to the end and get the answer, like a mystery. Instead, it is a book in which we keep struggling with the problem of life and, as we struggle, we learn to trust God with the questions even when we do not have all the answers.”