What's the meaning of it all?
An episode of the Andy Griffith Show entitled, A Sermon for Today, depicted a full auditorium of parishioners who had assembled on a Sunday morning. This was an exciting morning, because they were anticipating a lesson from the visiting preacher, Dr. Harrison Everett Breen. His lesson dealt with the frantic pace of our daily lives. He discussed how our success too often can be measured by our full schedules and how we no longer have time to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. The problem in our busy lives is that we do not have the time to answer life’s greatest question - “What’s the meaning of it all?” The sermon never quoted any Scripture, but it serves as a kind reminder to the viewer. Our lives are not merely to be lived for the present world, but rather in preparation for the one to come.
The same struggles of life in the 1960’s are still felt in the 21st century. The world has not slowed down in the years since the first airing of this episode, but rather it has only become more hectic and furiously driven. To be honest, this important question of life has been pondered by men for centuries - What’s the meaning of it all?
King Solomon lived a life in the lap of luxury. Solomon’s immense wealth enabled him to buy anything that caught the attention of his eye (Ecclesiastes 2:10). He had numerous slaves who waited on him night and day and ensured that He was never in need of anything. Solomon was never alone, but rather had 700 wives and 300 concubines to keep him company. While many would envy such a life; Solomon’s selfish-indulgence took his heart far away from his solid foundation.
The historian recorded – “Now Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statues of his father David, except he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places” (1 Kings 3:3; emphasis mine, bcj). Solomon’s heart of love and obedience failed to defend itself against the influence and deception of foreign wives and their idols. The same historian recorded – “Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh; Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women” (1 Kings 11:1). The heart of Solomon was turned by the influence of power, wealth, immorality, pride, and ultimately idolatry. A life given over to the carnal pursuits of things under the sun will find nothing but vanity in the end (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
The life of Solomon serves as a prime example of what happens to man, when God is neglected in his life. Solomon lived selfishly and arrogantly, but it appears toward the end, he came to his senses. Just like the prodigal son who was feeding the swine, Solomon returned to life’s most important question - “What’s the meaning of it all?”
Solomon’s answer to life’s toughest question is the treatise of Ecclesiastes. He traces for its reader every mistake and bad choice he made throughout his dark and unfaithful years. Solomon reveals the open wounds of a man who finally regained the consciousness of standing before God in judgement. He warned the reader -
I said to myself, ‘God will judge both the righteous and the wicked man,’ for a time for every matter and for every deed is there (3:17).
9 Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things (11:9).
14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil (12:14).
The fear of this judgement caused the heart of Solomon to return to his first love – God!
Solomon did not leave his readers searching for the answer to life’s most difficult question, but rather he gave us all the answer - “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is; fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person” (12:13). Our lives are not successful because we have full schedules and are running from this event to the next. Our lives will never find fulfillment in the things under the sun. The meaning of life is not to just simply live, drink, and be merry, but rather to yield one’s obedience to his Creator and Savior. May God bless our efforts in applying Solomon’s wisdom and giving ourselves completely to the finding our fulfillment in HIM!