One of the joys of childhood, and having children, is the unadulterated wonder and awe of life! The joy in the smallest of things. I think of the delight my little granddaughter and I shared as we watched little ants crawling around on our cement driveway.
One of the things we have to fight as we go along in life is cynicism. We have more years. Experienced more battles. Seen more wickedness. Observed (and been on the receiving end of) more injustice. And we can get a very jaundiced view of the world.
Today we hear from "The Cynic".
Solomon was "born with a silver spoon in his mouth", as the saying goes. He was rich. Handsome. Became powerful. Took any of the most beautiful women that he wanted. (And he wanted a lot. 700 concubines, 300 wives) He should have been the happiest man in the world. Here are some of his words...
1These are the words of the Quester, David's son and king in Jerusalem
2 -11 Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That's what the Quester says.]
There's nothing to anything—it's all smoke.
What's there to show for a lifetime of work,
a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?
One generation goes its way, the next one arrives,
but nothing changes—it's business as usual for old planet earth.
The sun comes up and the sun goes down,
then does it again, and again—the same old round.
The wind blows south, the wind blows north.
Around and around and around it blows,
blowing this way, then that—the whirling, erratic wind.
All the rivers flow into the sea,
but the sea never fills up.
The rivers keep flowing to the same old place,
and then start all over and do it again.
Everything's boring, utterly boring—
no one can find any meaning in it.
Boring to the eye,
boring to the ear.
What was will be again,
what happened will happen again.
There's nothing new on this earth.
Year after year it's the same old thing.
Does someone call out, "Hey, this is new"?
Don't get excited—it's the same old story.
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
And the things that will happen tomorrow?
Nobody'll remember them either.
Don't count on being remembered."
Isn't that inspiring?
Don't read this when you are depressed. You will probably go jump off a bridge. Into the path of an oncoming train!
He goes on...
1 -3 I said to myself, "Let's go for it—experiment with pleasure, have a good time!"
But there was nothing to it, nothing but smoke.
What do I think of the fun-filled life? Insane! Inane!
My verdict on the pursuit of happiness? Who needs it?
With the help of a bottle of wine
and all the wisdom I could muster,
I tried my level best
to penetrate the absurdity of life.
I wanted to get a handle on anything useful we mortals might do
during the years we spend on this earth.
I Never Said No to Myself
4 -8 Oh, I did great things: built houses,
designed gardens and parks
and planted a variety of fruit trees in them,
made pools of water
to irrigate the groves of trees.
I bought slaves, male and female,
who had children, giving me even more slaves;
then I acquired large herds and flocks,
larger than any before me in Jerusalem.
I piled up silver and gold,
loot from kings and kingdoms.
I gathered a chorus of singers to entertain me with song,
and—most exquisite of all pleasures—
voluptuous maidens for my bed.
9 -10 Oh, how I prospered!
I left all my predecessors in Jerusalem far behind, left them behind in the dust. What's more, I kept a clear head through it all. Everything I wanted I took—I never said no to myself. I gave in to every impulse, held back nothing. I sucked the marrow of pleasure out of every task—my reward to myself for a hard day's work!"
24 -26 "The best you can do with your life is have a good time and get by the best you can. The way I see it, that's it—divine fate. Whether we feast or fast, it's up to God. God may give wisdom and knowledge and joy to his favorites, but sinners are assigned a life of hard labor, and end up turning their wages over to God's favorites. Nothing but smoke—and spitting into the wind."
More next time...