I denied myself nothing my eyes
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun. (Eccl 2:10-11, NIV, emphasis added)
For today’s meditation, compare and contrast Solomon’s fulfillment survey of life “under the Sun” and Jesus’ Kingdom living “under the Son”. Jesus, in His Sermon on a Galilean hillside said,
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:1-10, NIV)
Ravi Zacharius, Indian-born philosopher and teacher, rightly stretches the phrase “under the sun” to mean “life without God”. Clearly, Solomon denied himself no earthly indulgence or secular fantasy. He tested pleasure (v1), laughter (v2), alcohol and debauchery (v3), wisdom and intellectual pursuits (v4), real estate mansions and property (v5), land with exotic fruits (v5), slaves and livestock (v6), inventions and innovations (v6), mineral wealth of all kinds (v8), the Arts (v8), women and sex excess (v9), reputation and esteem (v9) and more. Solomon’s bucket list devoured every human experience, endeavor and fantasy … without satisfaction.
Unlike Solomon’s list of “things”, Jesus taught that Kingdom happiness is about attitude and character. Contentment and Kingdom happiness are grounded in humble dependence on God’s Spirit (v3), future joy overcoming temporal sadness (v4), supreme values of meekness and gentleness (v5), the triumph of God’s righteousness (v6), supreme values of forgiveness and mercy (v7), supreme values of purity and selfless love (v8), supreme values of peace-minded pacifiers (v9), supreme values of holiness and fairness (v10).
Solomon is correct! There is no happiness or satisfaction “under the Sun”. Lasting, happiness and joy do not exist apart a life lived “under the Son”.
“Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good. Model your conduct on what you have learned from me, on what I have told you and shown you, and you will find the God of peace will be with you”. (Phil 4:8-9, JB Phillips)