1st Christian Church
1st Baptist Church
Glenwood IA, USA
Welcome In The Name Of The Father, And The Son, And The Holy Spirit
 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.  I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?”  I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life.  I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself.  I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees.  I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees.  I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem.  I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.
So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
Hedonism is pointless.
Or at least there is no redemption in it.
And redemption is all that matters, when the sun sets upon the dustling living under the sun.
Solomon tests himself with pleasure, under the guiding hand of the Wisdom, or so he claims at any rate. The wisdom of this experiment with sin is debatable. While many people have been burned by what they would describe as “fundamentalist handling of law and gospel” there is still wisdom, deep godly wisdom, in believing God and avoiding sin. Solomon goes head first into all the sins. He says as it were, “I’m going to try all the things.” Solomon decides to test himself with pleasure. Can pleasure be a trial? We often say pain is trying. We often talk about trial by fire, trial by pain, trial by disaster, but, is there such a thing as too much of a good thing?
Is there such a thing as too much of a thing that God does not desire for you at this stage of your life?
And, furthermore, is there such a thing as too much of a thing that you are never suppose to have?
Nobody needs a harem.
Yet Solomon in all his wisdom chooses to go headlong into such things.
Because he wanted to, that is why.
In Romans 7 we see a man who is in the fight against sin. Solomon isn’t in the fight. He has told himself that he is conducting a grand experiment guided by the wisdom of his heart. We dustlings have a way of justifying whatsoever our hearts desire.
Thus says the LORD:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
“I the LORD search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.”
(Jeremiah 17:5-10 ESV)
Solomon knew better. Sometimes being smart doesn’t help you walk close to Jesus. I say that as an advocate of self-education. The world would be slightly better if we all read a few more books and kept a few more opinions to ourselves.
That’s just my humble opinion.
The problem with Solomon’s wisdom was that he used it to fool himself, which isn’t all that smart, when you think about it.
Back in the garden before the breaking of the world they saw that the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was good for making one wise.
It made them know the difference between good and evil without giving them the ability to consistently choose the good. One might surmise that taking the path of rebellion to obtain knowledge in and of its self makes it difficult to choose good.
So it was that Solomon tried it all.
And all he tried tried him.
All he tried was vanity.
Solomon the hedonist = Vanity.
Solomon the drunk = Vanity.
Solomon the builder = Vanity.
Solomon the tycoon = Vanity.
Solomon the planter = Vanity.
Solomon the environmentalist = Vanity.
Solomon the city planner = Vanity.
Solomon the architect = Vanity.
Solomon the slaver = Vanity.
Solomon the hoarder = Vanity.
Solomon the collector = Vanity.
Solomon who had the most toys wins = Vanity.
Solomon “Big boys have big toys” = Vanity.
Solomon the consumer = Vanity.
Solomon the connoisseur = Vanity.
Solomon the hipster = Vanity
Vanity of Vanity all is vanity and striving after the wind.
Your life is but a vapor, what shall you do with it?
The Lord once said,
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
(Mark 8:36 ESV)
How little we think on those words.
One does wonder what the Lord should do with a man like Solomon. When we read about a guy like Solomon our hearts often turn into the older brother condemning his prodigal brother.
We were talking about deathbed conversions in Sunday School last week, and Matthew 20 came to my addled brain.
We often think that the man who makes the death bed confession of faith gets the best of both worlds because we secretly believe sin is more fun than righteousness.
This reveals far more about ourselves than the death bed convert.
Laborers in the Vineyard
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”
(Matthew 20:1-16 ESV)
The Lord told the thief on the cross, “Surely you will be with me today in paradise.”
I am glad our God desires nobody perish. I wonder if we do too.
Although Solomon had an opulent life, and although Solomon was well acquainted with luxury, he failed to properly appraise the value of things.
He failed to properly appraise the value of the Love of God.
As we’ve read the Psalms together as a Church, we’ve discovered a thing or two.
Steadfast love is the modus operandi of the most high.
During my years under the sun I have drunk deeply from the cup of suffering. I have realized more and more my great need for the love of God. In other words I have realized more and more my great need for Jesus.
Jesus is the Love of God.
This too is the journey Solomon writes of in Ecclesiastes.
This is the great journey of life.
We walk a dusty trail. The trailhead begins at prideful self-reliance and ends at utter reliance upon the love of the Lord Jesus. The cross proves as much. This is the Christian life.