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All is vanity – The North State Journal

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A detail from the “Judgment of Solomon” by Peter Paul Rubens (circa 1617). The painting is part of the collection of the National Gallery of Denmark.

The book of Ecclesiastes is at the same time pessimistic, incoherent and full of hope. The entire book reads like a study of human existence and the meaning of life. Solomon is traditionally noted as the author of Ecclesiastes, which corresponds to his quest for wisdom.

Ecclesiastes’ opening poem paints a grim picture of the human condition. Well-known statements like “that which is crooked cannot be made right” and “there is nothing new under the sun” are found in the first verses. The first chapter ends with the sinister “For in much wisdom there is much pain, and he who increases knowledge increases pain. “

The key word in Solomon’s prelude is vanity. His use of the word signifies futility, uselessness and nothingness. Some even use the book to claim that man ceases to exist after death.

But, the Christian knows that if there is nothing new under the sun, there is eternity waiting for those who believe. The search for knowledge, wisdom, and meaning can confuse even the greatest of minds when the investigator fails to recognize that God is a higher power that exists beyond our comprehension.

Ecclesiastes 1: 15-18

15 What is crooked cannot be straightened; and what is missing cannot be counted. 16 I fellowship with my own heart saying: Behold, I have come to a great estate and have gained more wisdom than all who have been before me in Jerusalem: yes, my heart had a great experience of wisdom. and knowledge. 17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and madness: I understood that this too is a vexation of the spirit. 18 For in much wisdom there is much pain, and he who increases knowledge increases pain.


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