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Lesson 7: Striving After the Wind *

Introduction: What do you most enjoy in life? What, for you, makes life worth living? Do you enjoy your prosperity? King Solomon is again ranting about how sad life can be, but our goal this week is to consider what Solomon says and uncover what we can learn from it to improve our life and our outlook on life. Let's dive right into our lesson!

  1. Enjoying Your Possessions

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 6:1-2. Solomon says that an evil exists, an evil which is depressing a lot of people. What is that evil? (God gives a person wealth, possessions and honor, but he is not able to enjoy them.)

      1. The text says a "stranger" enjoys them. How can a stranger enjoy your wealth, possessions and honor? (This person must not have any children. Perhaps another person takes over the company and enjoys the company's reputation and profits.)

      2. If this person is not lacking anything his heart desires, how can he not enjoy his blessings? (Death, illness, dementia.)

      3. Do you agree with Solomon that this is an evil?

        1. Is it one that is depressing you?

        2. If so, what answer to you have to avoid this depressing truth? (Eternal life.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 6:3. What significance do you find in this man not having a proper burial? (He has a hundred children, but they neither love nor care enough to make sure he is properly buried.)

      1. Whose fault is that? The father or the children? (Something must be amiss with "dad," if he cannot connect in a meaningful way with just one or two of his hundred children. How could you sire a hundred rotten children? When Solomon says a hundred children, he must be exaggerating to make a point.)

      2. Solomon uses this phrase, "enjoy your prosperity." What do you think Solomon means when he writes "enjoy your prosperity?"

        1. Is he talking about being content?

        2. Is he talking about taking time to "stop and smell the roses?"

        3. Is he talking about paying attention to what is important in life: i.e., your 100 children?

        1. Is he talking about a personality which is satisfied?

        2. Is he talking about a person who understands God's plan for life, and thus "gets" what life is about?

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 6:4-6. How does this text describe a still-born (miscarried, aborted) child? (That child comes and goes in darkness. It never has an opportunity to have meaning in life. The reference to the name being covered in darkness is a reference to the Jewish practice of not naming miscarried babies on the assumption this allows parents to overcome grief more easily.)

      1. How is this unfortunate man and a "still-born" child the same?

      2. Solomon tells us the two have the same destination? You agree?

      3. Solomon even says ( Ecclesiastes 6:3)the still-born child is better off? Do you agree? (Solomon says having no meaning in your life, or a negative meaning, is worse than never having lived. Never living gives you "rest." I would ask Solomon: "How much rest do you need? The person who is born has every opportunity to live a meaningful life.")

  1. Advantages in Life

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 6:7. Is this true for you? (In some areas of the world the main point of work is to feed yourself. However, a small percentage of my earnings goes for food and that is true for many areas of the world.)

    2. Add your brain into Solomon's statement. "All man's efforts are for his mouth and his brain." Is that modified statement true for you? (All work is for self-gratification, and your self-gratification is never satisfied.)

      1. If all work is to satisfy your cravings - which are never satisfied, what is wrong with that? That makes you a productive citizen, right? (You never get to a point where you say, "It feels good to have accomplished my goal.)

    3. Read Ecclesiastes 6:8. What reason would you have to conduct yourself properly before cultured people? (You do not want to be embarrassed by seeming to lack something: class, education or culture. Even if you do lack these things, you don't want it to be obvious because that would cause others to look down on you.)

      1. Now answer Solomon's question: what do you gain by behaving in a socially correct way? (You get the approval of others and you avoid embarrassment.)

        1. So what? Why do you care about the approval of those who are your educational or social "superiors?" (I think Solomon's point is that if you are at peace with yourself and your "rank" in life, then you will not be striving to impress others of "higher" rank.)

    4. Read Ecclesiastes 6:9. Compare what you see with what you would like to see? (This is Solomon's version of the old saying "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." What you can see right now is better than what you would like to see.)

      1. Is this Solomon's answer to the questions in Ecclesiastes 6:8? (Yes. His message is to be content with what you have.)

      2. What is the difference between being lazy and having no goals, and being content? (I am at that point in my life when I am looking at the "end game." I could stop or coast right now and anyone would say that I had a productive, meaningful life. The problem is, I still have hopes, dreams and goals. Solomon may think this is a problem, and maybe I will agree with him one day. But, right now I'm glad my views have not changed since I was 25-years old.)

    5. Read Ecclesiastes 6:10. Solomon tells us that everything has been named. Was he right?

      1. What is Solomon's point? (That if you are out to explore and "name" things after you, it has already been done. Forget the idea that you will make a name for yourself.)

      2. Why does Solomon write about fighting against one who is stronger than you? (Again, this is counsel not to strive for big goals.)

      3. I read Solomon as saying "Don't try to change things. Accept things the way they are and be done with it." Do you agree? (I do not agree. If I'm rebelling against God's order of things, I would agree with Solomon. But, if I'm trying to make the world a better place, then Solomon's attitude is a waste of his life, money, power and brains. Ask me this question again when I'm about to die.)

  2. Life Formula

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 6:11. Over my years of practicing law, I've noticed an unusual thing: courts seem to want to hear less and less from lawyers. In American federal courts, they have page limits for briefs that are getting shorter and shorter. Fewer motions are orally argued. It is possible to litigate a case to a conclusion and never even see the judge! Have the judges been reading Ecclesiastes 6:11? What do you think is the point Solomon is trying to make? Do you agree with it? (Being forced to shorten a brief makes you more careful about its organization. It takes more work to write something succinctly.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 6:12. The commentary, Be Satisfied, quotes British poet Joseph Addison as saying "The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for." Is the answer to Solomon's question: "Who knows what is good for a man in life?" "Mr. Addison!"

      1. What is the answer to the final question: "Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?" (Since we recently studied the book of Daniel, the prophet Daniel is one answer.)

        1. Does it matter what happens on earth after you die? (If you leave behind people that you love, the answer is that just as you trusted God with your life, so you can trust God with the lives of those you love and leave behind.)

    3. Friend, Solomon's conclusion is to be content with your life. I suggest a little discontent, a hope for a better future, makes getting up in the morning more exciting. What do you say?

  3. Next week: God Made Man Upright? What Happened?
* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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