Last Sunday, Father's Day, I met with ten men around a fire pit in my backyard. Attending were a couple of my board members, current members of Phase II: Focus of a Warrior, alumni from previous groups and two sons of men associated with Heart of a Warrior. These occasional gatherings are meant for fellowship and 'deep' teaching.
We reviewed why each man came to HOAW after which I taught lessons from the Book of Ecclesiastes, one of my favorite books of the Bible. Many find the book perplexing or depressing. I do not. Once you understand the primary key that unlocks the book it comes alive possessing many lessons for followers of Christ and leaders.
Solomon, the third king of Israel succeeded his father David. Solomon reflects on his life and evaluates the results of his activities finding some of value but most meaningless when life is lived on a horizontal plain apart from a vertical relationship with God--when life is engaged for the specific purpose of self-actualization.
There are a couple of phrases that are only found in Ecclesiastes and nowhere else in the Bible--under the sun and a chasing after the wind. Under the sun , the primary key that unlocks the book, is found 29 times in the book. This phrase implies "life lived by purely earthly and human values without recourse to a supernatural level of reality" is meaningless. Anytime the phrase appears the author is commenting from the perspective of someone living their life on the horizontal plain apart from a vertical relationship with God.
No matter what lofty achievements we obtain, what structures we build, what vineyards we plant, what companies we run, what successes we enjoy, what notoriety we are recognized for, what philanthropy we engage in, what books we write, what oratory we speak, what money we earn, what position or status we hold--all of it, according to the author, is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
One scholar summarizes the value of the book this way--"The Book of Ecclesiastes has a powerful message for our selfish, materialistic age. It teaches that great accomplishments and earthly possessions alone do not bring lasting happiness. True satisfaction comes from serving God and following His will for our lives."
Solomon concludes his analysis by identifying the single most important thing that matters.
The end of the matter, all has been heard. Fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man (Eccl 12:13 RSV).