Dear 365 Readers,
We start Ecclesiastes today – it’s a bit tricky and a potentially depressing read, so let’s consider the context:
Ecclesiastes was likely written by King Solomon – the last king of united Israel and David’s son, a ruler who had tremendous wealth, power, wisdom, and everything else he ever wanted. In this book he details his quest for meaning in life through wealth, power, pleasure, riches, labor, and more. He discovers that the pursuit of all these things is “meaningless” and “chasing after the wind”. You could summarize his whole life in Jesus’ one statement, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world and yet forfeits his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
The positive message, the lesson of Ecclesiastes is found at the end of the book, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Eccl 12:13) As you read consider how the world we live in today encourages the pursuit of so many things that have no eternal value… What did Solomon conclude? Consider how a relationship with God changes our priorities and perspective on things the world values.
This week we’ll also read Song of Solomon, a love song that was perhaps sung at a wedding. Many people are surprised to find an explicit love song in the Bible, but it is a celebration of pure sensuality without shame, set in the context of a happy marriage. The song is full of metaphors that sound strange to us – “Your hair is like a flock of goats” (4:1) or “Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon” (7:4) – so you might need to read it with a commentary in hand!
Courage to you, keep reading! — Mindy