Day 18: The meaning of life (7:25)
“I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness” (7:25).
We left our yesterday thought, which was all about wisdom and how desirable having it was, with today’s text. But before we unravel this and what follows, it is worth reflecting on the text preceding: “That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?” (7:24), or put slightly differently: “How can anyone discover what life means? It is too deep for us, too hard to understand” (7:24 GNT). Since the beginning of human existence, people have tried to discover what life means and have come up with many answers including many man-made religions and ideologies. But as we have seen, it is not there to be found, certainly not if we look for it under the sun – it is beyond us and far too deep. It appears this is one of the triggers for the Preacher as he sets out to know, to search and to seek out wisdom as to why things are as they are. It is a noble exercise and one to be commended but not if looking in the wrong places, as seen in previous chapters. He also wanted to identify evil and stupidity, foolishness and craziness, which come to think of it is also a worthwhile exercise because there is so much of it that is often accepted as part of life when it should be rather challenged, and is why wisdom is needed. Yesterday, we were reminded from Proverbs as to why wisdom is so important. So today, how about making: “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” Proverbs 9:10 our guiding principle and one that helps toward bringing meaning to life.
In rounding of this section, the Preacher rather bafflingly, at least for those living in a day when the equality of sexes is seen as important (and one we might want to take issue with), talks about the seductive, scheming of certain women who we (presumably if we are a man) do well to escape from (and can if we please God) and then goes on to say: “I have looked for other answers but have found none. I found one man in a thousand that I could respect, but not one woman” (7:28 GNT), and, putting aside the sex bias, he is saying that in effect there is a 0.05% chance of finding someone he could respect. He ends on a rather salutary note that pretty much sums up how he sees things but it helps him to make, at least some, sense of the world: “This is all that I have learned: God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated.” (7:28,29 GNT.) Maybe, we can learn from this the importance of having a simple trust in the Almighty.
Prayer: Lord, help us in our quest to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things and simply to trust in you, who does all things well. We thank you that in you and in following your ways we find true meaning to life.