The Humanist takes on Solomon and the Book of Ecclesiastes (includes poem by humanist Frank S. Robinson)

Ecclesiastes 8-10 | Still Searching After All These Years

Published on Oct 9, 2012

Calvary Chapel Spring Valley | Sunday Evening | October 7, 2012 | Pastor Derek Neider

_______________________

Ecclesiastes 11-12 | Solomon Finds His Way

Published on Oct 30, 2012

Calvary Chapel Spring Valley | Sunday Evening | October 28, 2012 | Pastor Derek Neider

____________________

This from the American Humanist website:

This week we’re pleased to publish a new poem “Ecclesiastes” by Frank S. Robinson.

Frank S. Robinson is a retired New York State administrative law judge, a rare coin dealer, and author of five books, most recently The Case for Rational Optimism. He is married to the poet Therese Broderick, and blogs at www.rationaloptimist.wordpress.com.

If you’d like to contribute original poetry to Humanist Voices in Verse, write to hnn@americanhumanist.org with “Poetry” in the subject line. Please send no more than three poems for consideration per week.

Ecclesiastes

All is vanity, Ecclesiastes said:

The cosmic meaning of our lives is none;

Nor is there any life ahead,

Where all injustice is undone.

We are food that worms will eat,

With no greater glory in store

Than for those worms beneath our feet;

Nothing but oblivion forever more.

That’s what Ecclesiastes wrote.

So why wasn’t it a suicide note?

Because that writer wasn’t glum,

He had the antidote:

A plum.

Dripping with sweetness and flavor,

That, even if doomed, today we can savor,

Like the love of sons and daughters,

And blue skies and blue waters,

Music, dancing, funny stories,

Daffodils and morning glories.

Of course not all is pleasing;

“To everything there is a season:”

A time to sow and a time to reap,

A time for joy, a time to weep.

We can only live these lives of ours,

Make what we can of their days and hours;

When shining sun precedes the night,

Let us drink up its warmth and light.

The grave is lonely, dark and deep;

Let’s laugh and play before we sleep.

—Frank S. Robinson

_____________________

Here is my response:

It is best to breakdown Frank S. Robinson’s poem and make a few points:

First, Robinson has a misunderstanding of what Solomon is trying to do in this book. H e wanted to take the first 11 chapters and show how futile it is to seek meaning and satisfaction in life “under the Sun” without God in the picture. In the last chapter Solomon brings God back into the picture and gives the final verdict:

The final chapter of Ecclesiastes finishes with Solomon emphasizing that serving God is the only proper response of man. Solomon looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture.  i am hoping that those who read the poem by Robinson  will also come to that same conclusion that Solomon came to concerning the meaning of life and man’s proper place in the universe in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14:
13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.

14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil

_______________________

First, all is vanity without God in the picture and injustice does rule in this life. 

All is vanity, Ecclesiastes said:

The cosmic meaning of our lives is none;

Nor is there any life ahead,

Where all injustice is undone.

We are food that worms will eat,

With no greater glory in store

Than for those worms beneath our feet;

Nothing but oblivion forever more.

That’s what Ecclesiastes wrote.

So why wasn’t it a suicide note?

Second, Solomon’s final verdict was to serve God and not keep pursuing pleasure under the sun!!

Because that writer wasn’t glum,

He had the antidote:

A plum.

Dripping with sweetness and flavor,

That, even if doomed, today we can savor,

Like the love of sons and daughters,

And blue skies and blue waters,

Music, dancing, funny stories,

Daffodils and morning glories.

Of course not all is pleasing;

“To everything there is a season:”

A time to sow and a time to reap,

A time for joy, a time to weep.

We can only live these lives of ours,

Make what we can of their days and hours;

When shining sun precedes the night,

Let us drink up its warmth and light.

The grave is lonely, dark and deep;

Third, we must bring God back into our lives or our only choice is to eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!!!!

Let’s laugh and play before we sleep.

 

 

_______________________

 

 

_____________

Three thousand years ago, Solomon took a look at life “under the sun” in his book of Ecclesiastes. Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.”

Let me show you some inescapable conclusions if you choose to live without God in the picture. Solomon came to these same conclusions when he looked at life “under the sun.”

  1. Death is the great equalizer (Eccl 3:20, “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”)
  2. Chance and time have determined the past, and they will determine the future.  (Ecclesiastes 9:11-13 “I have seen something else under the sun:  The race is not to the swift
    or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise
    or wealth to the brilliant  or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.  Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net,
    or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times  that fall unexpectedly upon them.”)
  3. Power reigns in this life, and the scales are not balanced(Eccl 4:1; “Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed—
    and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors—  and they have no comforter.” 7:15 “In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: the righteous perishing in their righteousness,  and the wicked living long in their wickedness. ).
  4. Nothing in life gives true satisfaction without God including knowledge (1:16-18), ladies and liquor (2:1-3, 8, 10, 11), and great building projects (2:4-6, 18-20).

_______________________

Power reigns in this life and the scales are not balanced.

Solomon comes to the realization that powers reigns in this life and the scales are not balanced. Solomon notes, “Again, I observed all the oppression that takes place under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed, with no one to comfort them. The oppressors have great power, and their victims are helpless. (Ecclesiastes 4:1).

People that believe there is no afterlife must concede that Hitler will never face the due punishment for his acts. I am a big Woody Allen movie fan and no other movie better demonstrates Ecclesiastes 4:1 better than the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS because the character Judah was able to get away with murder and in the end of the movie does not fear that God will punish him. 

If you do not have God in the picture then you must come to the same conclusions that Solomon came to and Woody Allen shows that very clearly in his film.

By the way, the final chapter of Ecclesiastes finishes with Solomon emphasizing that serving God is the only proper response of man. Solomon looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture.  I am hoping that Woody Allen will also come to that same conclusion that Solomon came to concerning the meaning of life and man’s proper place in the universe in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14:
13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.

14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil

Another chapter in Ecclesiastes takes on the issue of death head on.

Ecclesiastes 9:1-12

The Message (MSG)

Ecclesiastes 9

1-3Well, I took all this in and thought it through, inside and out. Here’s what I understood: The good, the wise, and all that they do are in God’s hands—but, day by day, whether it’s love or hate they’re dealing with, they don’t know.

Anything’s possible. It’s one fate for everybody—righteous and wicked, good people, bad people, the nice and the nasty, worshipers and non-worshipers, committed and uncommitted. I find this outrageous—the worst thing about living on this earth—that everyone’s lumped together in one fate. Is it any wonder that so many people are obsessed with evil? Is it any wonder that people go crazy right and left? Life leads to death. That’s it.

Seize Life!

4-6 Still, anyone selected out for life has hope, for, as they say, “A living dog is better than a dead lion.” The living at least know something, even if it’s only that they’re going to die. But the dead know nothing and get nothing. They’re a minus that no one remembers. Their loves, their hates, yes, even their dreams, are long gone. There’s not a trace of them left in the affairs of this earth.

7-10 Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
This is your last and only chance at it,
For there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think
In the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.

11 I took another walk around the neighborhood and realized that on this earth as it is—

The race is not always to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor satisfaction to the wise,
Nor riches to the smart,
Nor grace to the learned.
Sooner or later bad luck hits us all.

12 No one can predict misfortune.
Like fish caught in a cruel net or birds in a trap,
So men and women are caught
By accidents evil and sudden.

In 1978 I heard the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas when it rose to #6 on the charts. That song told me thatKerry Livgren the writer of that song and a member of Kansas had come to the same conclusion that Solomon had. I remember mentioning to my friends at church that we may soon see some members of Kansas become Christians because their search for the meaning of life had obviously come up empty even though they had risen from being an unknown band to the top of the music business and had all the wealth and fame that came with that. Furthermore, like Solomon and Coldplay, they realized death comes to everyone and “there must be something more.”

Livgren wrote:

“All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Both Kerry Livgren and Dave Hope of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and Dave Hope had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same  interview can be seen on youtube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. Hope is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.

You can hear Kerry Livgren’s story from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

(part 2 ten minutes)

Related posts:

Steve Jobs left conservative Lutheran upbringing behind

Steve Jobs was raised as a conservative Lutheran but he chose to leave those beliefs behind. Below is a very good article on his life. COVER STORY ARTICLE | Issue: “Steve Jobs 1955-2011″ October 22, 2011 A god of our age Who was Steve Jobs? A revered technology pioneer and a relentless innovator, the Apple […]

Occupy Wall Street vs. Steve Jobs

COUNTER-DEMONSTRATION: At Kappa Sigma house in Fayetteville. The Drew Wilson photo above went viral last night — at least in Arkansas e-mail and social media users — after the Fayetteville Flyer posted it in coverage of an Occupy Northwest Arkansas demonstration in Fayetteville. The 1 percent banner was unfurled briefly on the Kappa Sigma frat […]

Steve Jobs’ Father

(If you want to check out other posts I have done about about Steve Jobs:Some say Steve Jobs was an atheist , Steve Jobs and Adoption , What is the eternal impact of Steve Jobs’ life? ,Steve Jobs versus President Obama: Who created more jobs? ,Steve Jobs’ view of death and what the Bible has to say about it ,8 things you might not know about Steve Jobs ,Steve […]

Steve Jobs at Stanford

(If you want to check out other posts I have done about about Steve Jobs:Some say Steve Jobs was an atheist , Steve Jobs and Adoption , What is the eternal impact of Steve Jobs’ life? ,Steve Jobs versus President Obama: Who created more jobs? ,Steve Jobs’ view of death and what the Bible has to say about it ,8 things you might not know about Steve Jobs ,Steve […]

Steve Jobs depicted at pearly gates with Saint Peter

It is strange that the New Yorker Magazine did no research. (If you want to check out other posts I have done about about Steve Jobs:Some say Steve Jobs was an atheist , Steve Jobs and Adoption , What is the eternal impact of Steve Jobs’ life? ,Steve Jobs versus President Obama: Who created more jobs? ,Steve Jobs’ view of death and what the Bible […]

Steve Jobs versus President Obama: Who created more jobs?

I loved reading this article below. (Take a look at the link to other posts I have done on Steve Jobs.) David Boaz makes some great observations: How much value is the Post Office creating this year? Or Amtrak? Or Solyndra? And if you point out that the Post Office does create value for its […]

Steve Jobs’ view of death and what the Bible has to say about it

Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address Uploaded by StanfordUniversity on Mar 7, 2008 Drawing from some of the most pivotal points in his life, Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams and see the opportunities in life’s setbacks — including death […]

8 things you might not know about Steve Jobs

Things you may not know about Steve Jobs: Steve Jobs leans against his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs (Lea Suzuki/San Francisco Chronicle/Corbis) For all of his years in the spotlight at the helm of Apple, Steve Jobs in many ways remains an inscrutable figure — even in his death. Fiercely private, Jobs concealed most specifics about […]

Steve Jobs was a Buddhist: What is Buddhism?

Steve Jobs passed away on October 5, 2011. I personally am very grateful to him for helping the world so much with his ideas and I have written about tha before. Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute noted: He’s built a $360 billion company. That presumably means at least $352 billion of wealth in the […]

Did Steve Jobs help people even though he did not give away a lot of money?

  Did Steve Jobs help people even though he did not give away a lot of money? (I just finished a post concerning Steve’s religious beliefs and a post about 8 things you may not know about Steve Jobs) Uploaded by UM0kusha0kusha on Sep 16, 2010 clip from The First Round Up *1934* ~~enjoy!! ______________________________________________ In the short film […]

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: