Wise Man's Confession of Chasing the Wind

Who Authored Ecclesiastes?

Most scholars believe that the author of Ecclesiastes is Solomon (King in Jerusalem circa 970 to 931 BC) because:

  • the author identifies himself as the Teacher, King David’s son who lived and ruled in Jerusalem;
  • he claims to have more wisdom and knowledge than all the previous kings of Jerusalem;
  • Solomon is credited with wisdom that "exceeded that of all the wise men of the East and the wise men of Egypt." (1 Kings 4:30).

Who would expect a confession of chasing the wind from a co-author of the Holy Scriptures? “Completely meaningless” is his summary on life.

There are three reasons that compel us to pay attention to the book of Ecclesiastes:

  • The author writes from several real-life experiences which he mentions throughout the book.
  • The moods of disappointment and disgust are practical instances in the human experience; we’ve all been there.
  • The two previous statements qualify the author to teach, and he even calls himself Teacher.

Ken Carson, Biblical Leadership Instructor, believes that the author, despite his wisdom, is a dissatisfied old man looking at the way his life turned out. Carson offers, “The tone of the book ... seems to say, ‘it's too late for me, but maybe you get it right.’"1

No matter what kind of life we live now, we can only benefit from the caution of one who teaches from his own experience, the attitude and actions which he summarizes as simply chasing the wind.

(1) Life in General

Author: Sebb
Author: Sebb | Source

I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.

— Ecclesiastes 1:14
"Disappointment" by Julius Leblanc Stewart
"Disappointment" by Julius Leblanc Stewart | Source

We identify with this feeling when when we’re confused at life's crossroads. We try different routes and different strategies, but nothing works. Life begins to feel weary and monotonous like the Teacher observed:

  • The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again (1:5).
  • Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea (1:7).

The life chase takes us round and round in a circle. We become passionate about success. However, when we concentrate on success, disappointments and defeats throw us down. When we submit to purpose we, like the sun and the river, persevere on the way to our destiny.

(2) Pleasure and Wealth

This confession is about pleasure, because the Teacher worked hard in his chase after self-gratification.

But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

— Ecclesiastes 2:11

"I had everything a man could desire." (2:8)

Structural Designs
Natural Designs
People and Animals
Wealth
huge homes
beautiful vineyards and flourishing groves
male and female singers and slaves, concubines
treasure of many kings and provinces
reservoirs to collect water
gardens and parks
herds and flocks
great sums of silver and gold
Daily food requirements for Solomon’s palace included 30 cattle, 100 sheep or goats, as well as deer, gazelles, roe deer, and choice poultry. (1 Kings 4: 22,23)

The Teacher had it all, but none of it gave his life meaning. And the moral? Neither situations nor possessions can satisfy us. Spiritual connectedness with the Source of lasting peace, joy and love is the guarantee for satisfaction and meaning in our lives.

(3) Wisdom and Work

"Hard Work"  by Arian Zwegers
"Hard Work" by Arian Zwegers | Source

So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

— Ecclesiastes 2:17

To confess hatred of life is to confess deep despair, considering how often (on good days) we thank God for life.

What mood would we probably be in, when we ask questions like the Teacher asked himself?

  • Both [the wise and the foolish] will die. . . Since I will end up the same as the fool, what’s the value of all my wisdom? (2:15)
  • So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety? (2:22)
  • Who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? (2:19)

Are we taking life too seriously at this point? The Teacher himself, in a moment of clarity, offers this perspective: “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. . . And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.” He seems to recommend trust and contentment.

(4) Competition

“Well-doers … often become great and prosperous, but this excites envy and opposition… Let us … not grasp at both hands full, which would only create vexation of spirit. Moderate pains and gains do best.2

Most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. (4:4)

— Ecclesiastes 4:4
  • For the successful hard workers, trying to over-reach may set them up for opposition from jealous folk.
  • For the successful motivated by envy, satisfaction from success will not last. There will always be the need to compete.

The Teacher suggests peace and quiet instead of rivalry: “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.” (4:6)

(5) Politics

It is not easy to fix an identity for the person who may have influenced this verse, but Solomon, his father David, and his son Jeroboam are among those mentioned.3

Endless crowds stand around him [a young king], but then another generation grows up and rejects him, too. So it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.

— Ecclesiastes 4:16

The point is that even campaigning to become head of state is like chasing the wind. It was true of the Teacher’s generation and it true of ours. “The reign which begins so brightly shares the inevitable doom, and ends in darkness, and murmuring and failure… The popular hero of the hour finds himself slighted even in life, and is forgotten by the next generation.”4

If the king despite his power and popularity is forgotten, chances are that we can be too. This is not to suggest that we live life any less passionately, but that we find a wise perspective about the purpose for our lives in the grand scheme of things.

The Teacher's Conclusion

Here are four concluding statements from the Teacher which we do well to remember. These are not suggestions; they are obligations for those who want a meaningful life as an alternative to chasing the wind.

  • Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead (5: 7).
  • Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless—like chasing the wind (6: 9)

  • Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do (11: 9).
  • Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty (12: 13).

References

1. Carson, Ken: Grace Institute for Biblical Leadership, Ecclesiastes Survey of the Old Testament: The Writings, Copyright 2006

2. Bible Hub: Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary, Copyright 2004-2014 by Biblos.com.

3, 4. Bible Hub: Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, Copyright 2004-2014 by Biblos.com.

© 2014 Dora Isaac Weithers

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Comments 39 comments

lifegate profile image

lifegate 2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

Love your hubs, MsDora. That's all I can say!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

As I was reading this fine article, I was reminded of something I learned a long time ago...happiness is an inside job. :) Thanks for the food for thought today, Dora!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Bill. You've said a mouthful, and I appreciate you.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Great conclusion, Bill. As we journey through life, that's a good line to remember. Thank you.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Wow, MsDora, what powerful truths you have shared here this insightful hub! I love it. Yes, we can do all things in this life, even all the good, but if we do it without love, then we have wasted our life. I try to be mindful to store up my treasures in heaven where they will count for something. This hub gives us pause to think on why we are chasing down whatever it is in this life and is it really why we are all here!

Up ++++ tweeting and pinning

God bless you.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Faith, you shared some very good thoughts yourself. Thank you for your wonderful comment and your ongoing support. I appreciate you.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

No matter how old, I don't think it's ever too late for people to live their dream of a rich and rewarding life,whatever that may mean for them. Sometimes it's about redefining what those dreams are.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

How many of us have been at such a good point in our life and felt something missing? Deep down we all know it is not what this life is about that counts and all of it will go to dust one day along with our bodies. You have picked a very interesting study and have done a superb job of it! ^+


word55 profile image

word55 2 years ago from Chicago

This was excellent MsDora. You covered the topic very well with great references and research as mdscoggins described in her hub today. You ladies are on the cases!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

love your hub Msdora.. isn't true.. just asking .. The Wanting Is Better Than Having trope as used in popular culture... almost like a Paradox of Choice... your hub is insightful and as always makes one think... hmmm voted up and awesome


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Flourish, I share your thought about never too late. It's about not giving up. Thanks for your comment.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Jackie. Meaningful perspective!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Word. You're very encouraging.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

H i MsDora a wonderful meaning here. Life is meaningful and so precious. Anyone can achieve what they put their minds to.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Frank, it seems like enjoying what you have is healthier than wanting what you don't have. Thanks for your input.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Devika, thanks for stopping by.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Beautifully done and with much packed in. You tackle great scripture with a wise and straight forward approach and the result is fantastic. I find Solomon's last contribution here as his wisest and note it came after his folly. Seems he garnered his finest wisdom from mistakes. And God gave him that right.


sallybea profile image

sallybea 2 years ago from Norfolk

Beautifully written MsDora and definitely food for thought. Thank you for sharing.

Sally


lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

This was very thought provoking. At a superficial glance Ecclesiastes is a very depressing book about some rich king who is whining and complaining when he as everything a man could ever want. I like that you pointed out his message was "I had it all and I'm still empty." We hear this a lot from prominent people. Perhaps this is a poor example because it's not a biblical character, but when Robin Williams took his life, everyone said, "How can a man who was so gifted and had everything take his own life?"

I've always found it interesting that Solomon was called the wisest king who ever lived up to that time - that was true as he ran the affairs of his kingdom, making business deals etc. But at the end of the day, he was not wise in his personal life, and we see this in Ecclesiastes. His wisdom for himself came at the end when he saw the futility of his life thus far. Lesson learned and he's passing it on.

Dora, I love your work. Blessings sister.


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 2 years ago from london

Nice article Dora.

You chose one of my favourites when talking about the vanity and useless nature of mundane things. Solomon, yes, so wise and with such powerful statements to ponder.

Your obligations may be meaningful to many. Still, I do not fear God. The way of Yoga philosophy is also one of Love, and perfect love casteth out all fear. This has been my experience ever since I was old enough to remember.

Still, I cherish your faith and passion for the Lord. In Love and Light.


sheilamyers 2 years ago

Awesome hub! I believe the main thing Solomon forgot was that our rewards for the things we do aren't really found in this world, but in eternity. His wisdom touched many people during his time; however, his greatest legacy is the people still touched by his wisdom today.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Eric, thanks for your observation. There are those who spend time wondering if Solomon repented of his mistakes. Like you, I'm grateful that he passed on the wisdom that he learned from those mistakes.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Sally, glad to write something worth thinking about. Thank you.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Lori. Ecclesiastes was never among my favorite books, but now that I've studied it, I'm grateful for the lessons I've learned. I appreciate your input.


bluebird profile image

bluebird 2 years ago

Good hub and subject. The fear of God is summed up here. A very good point to this whole matter with Solomon. It was at the end of his life when he learned to fear God more than he ever had before. In all reality, he was saying to fear God is to love God. To love God is to obey God. Also to hate evil, pride and arrogancy - it's about submission from our way to our Father's. We are his children and must learn obedience. His laws are active and alive, if we break them they break us.

Thank you for reminding us of what Solomon had to learn and wrote about for future posterity's learning. That be us.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Manatita, in English "fear" has several meanings: be afraid, stand in awe, reverence, honor, respect, inspire reverence. Thanks for sharing your experience.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Sheila, Amen to your last sentence. Thanks for your very wise input.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Bluebird, I love the wisdom in your comment. Thanks for a very meaningful input.


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 2 years ago from Philippines

This is such a helpful study of Ecclesiastes. I also like the historical perspective you add to it. Ecclesiastes is one book of the Bible that stands out for me. Perhaps, because the search for contentment is so universal. Thanks for this wonderful article.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks for your comment, Mona. I have also learned to appreciate the Book of Ecclesiastes. Great life lessons!


Tobusiness 2 years ago

Money for it's own sake, is pointless. (I guess old king Solomon got the message). However, when money is used as a force for good, everyone wins. Sadly, we can only fully appreciate this truth through personal experience. Until then, we keep right on dreaming of day we win the lottery.:)

Your hubs are always beautifully written, inspirational,and thought provoking.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Jo, you made me smile about winning the lottery. Thanks for your very wise input.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Ms Dora, I have always loved reading through the wisdom of Ecclesiastes. There is so much to learn from the writing of this once great king. Thank you for the lessons presented here on chasing the wind. Indeed we are to love the much more simpler things in life and to obey God's plan for us.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Teaches, thanks for reading. Thanks for your kind input.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 22 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids

MsDora, I have long thought that one purpose in our lives should be to develop and use the talents or abilities that we have been granted. Although I am not Protestant, it is a concept I borrowed from them, called the Protestant Ethic. It should be applied with common sense. We mostlyly have many talents and there may be more need in the world for one than another.

Rather than chase "success"it might be best to develop ones natural bilities and trust in whatever success we attain as a result.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 22 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Don, I agree with you totally. You remind me of the saying that if we focus on results, we won't see any change; but if we focus on change we'll see results. Thanks for sharing your valuable observation.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 22 months ago from The Caribbean Author

For those who are following this article, I'd like to share a quote from Jacques B. Doukhan, professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Exegesis concerning the "fear of the Lord" as mentioned in my conclusion (Ecclesiastes 5: 7 and 12: 13).

"The fear of the Lord has nothing to do with the superstitious and childish fear of divine punishment. Instead, it should be understood as the acute consciousness of God’s personal presence at all times and everywhere. . . In short, to fear God means to be faithful to God and to love Him."


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 7 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

It's just not worth chasing anything in life really. After all life is not at all about gains of any type that will not accompany us in the after life. That is short sighted living.

I find the conclusions drawn by the Teacher to be of immense value to peace within.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Rajan, that peace is vital to our all-round good health. Thanks for your valuable input.

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    Dora Isaac Weithers (MsDora)946 Followers
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    MsDora, former teacher and Christian counselor is also an avid Bible student, and presents practical Bible principles for everyday living.



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