The Wisdom of Ecclesiastes

November 20, 2008, 10:30 am; posted by
Filed under Articles, David, Featured  | No Comments

I saw a car yesterday in traffic, a mid-’80s compact model, and it reminded me of something that I hadn\’t thought of in years. Two decades ago, I was working as a salesman — like I am now, only with far less success — and I wandered into a car dealership to make a sales call. It was yet another rejection when I desperately needed a sale.

The salesman noticed me eyeing a brand-new compact car and began giving me his pitch on the way out. He opened the door and made me slide in; I experienced that “new car smell” and took in the spotlessly clean interior. It was mesmerizing, and as far out of reach as the constellations in the sky. I thanked him, turned down a test drive, and slogged through the snow back to my old junker, which I drove off into the gathering gloom of a wintry evening.

I thought about that car forever, struggling to make ends meet raising a family on my income while my wife stayed home to raise our children. I marveled at a world that seemed so far beyond my reach: a world where people could buy a house, not rent; where people bought their children new clothes whenever they needed them; where people could walk into a dealership and buy a new car if the mood struck. All I could see was my poverty, and I was convinced that this other world would be a happy one indeed.

When I saw that same model, dented and rusted, smoking its way through traffic the other day, I was amazed at how small and unspectacular it really was. I\’m 47 now, almost 48. My wife went back to school after the kids were grown, and now she teaches. We certainly aren\’t rich, but we have bought and discarded a half-dozen new vehicles that all put that low-end GM product to shame. The poverty that shamed me and left me feeling so helpless at times is just a distant memory. Like all young couples, we struggled. but God was always faithful to provide what we needed — we never went without.

We’re reading through Ecclesiastes in our Bible study, and someone asked what value the book holds for a Christian. Well, when you understand it was written by a man of unlimited wealth, who sought to test the limits of the happiness it could buy, always coming up empty, then you see the wisdom of Ecclesiastes.

There is no “other world,” where material wealth brings forth a joyous existence of unbounded peace and contentment. Test if you must, but my experience with automobiles shows me that Solomon knew what he was talking about: “Vanity, vanity! All is vanity!”


Leave a comment!