As we face a New Year we think back on our life. As we do we try to understand the meaning and purpose of existence so we can face the future. If we look at the word of God we will find that purpose in serving God by serving others. Yet so many people reject the Bible in favor of accepting the ideas and claims of philosophy, science and astrology about the nature of life. All of this will lead them nowhere as Solomon discovered. Therefore we Christians must stop thinking like the world by rejecting its claims, values and priorities.
There is a phrase that we ought to consider as Solomon uses it constantly: “under the sun”. This is to be understood in contrast to 3:1, “under heaven”. Things done under heaven are those done in God’s economy and for His glory. Everything that happens in the natural world and everything that occurs even in the affairs of man has a time and purpose and a proper place. There are limits and restrictions on all and wisdom helps us to know the difference. In contrast those things done under the sun do not recognize these restrictions and limits. Things are done by man for himself and for his purposes, not in accord with God’s will, but actually in an attempt to circumvent that will. That is why they are futile and meaningless.
As Solomon continued to reflect on life he realized that no matter what he did, his final end would be like the end of the animals as if man was just a higher form of beast. This concept is very popular in modern culture thanks to Darwin. Our whole culture is built upon the idea that man is just a highly developed animal, the product of random evolution, not intelligent design by a benevolent deity. Based on this idea it is no wonder people seek meaning and purpose in pleasure and material things. If there is no God then there is no afterlife, no reason to live a moral life and no reason to help others. Yet Solomon tells us that we are all created in the image of God and if we live for Him we will find all the happiness and joy and meaning we need and seek.