If you’ve ever ridden a stationary bike, then you know that no matter how much you pedal, you never go anywhere. And even if you’re riding a high-tech bike with a monitor displaying terrain that you’re supposedly going over, a quick look around reminds you that you’re on a machine. And you’re in the same place where you started.
That is what life can be like sometimes. You’re always trying, but it seems like you’re not going anywhere.
Solomon looked at life that way. He wrote, “What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. . . . Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content” (Ecclesiastes 1:3–4, 8 NLT).
That’s a bleak way to look at life. But throughout Ecclesiastes, Solomon uses a phrase that helps us explain his outlook: “under the sun.”
Solomon was speaking of horizontal, strictly human living. He rarely looked above the sun for answers. In other words, he was not looking to God. Instead, he was looking horizontally. He was looking to this planet, to this world, for answers.
As a result, Solomon decided to take a crash course on sin. He was prepared to try everything that was out there. He wanted the finest entertainment the world offered and the finest education that money could buy. And he wanted to experience unlimited materialism. Basically, Solomon wanted to experience everything there was to experience.
Solomon had what most people only dream of. But in the end, it turned out to be a nightmare.
This serves as a reminder that if we leave God out of the equation when we attempt to meet the deepest needs of our lives, we always will come up empty.
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