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Sunday, May 31 2015

Ecclesiastes 2: Solomon's Bubbles

"Thou shalt not take the Name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His Name in vain"

The painting "Daydreams" by Thomas Couture (1815-1879) is that of a bubble-blowing youth. Why bubbles? A description from the painting:

"Since the 16th century, a figure blowing bubbles has served as an allegory for the vice of vanity. A schoolboy slouches on a chair beside his unopened books as bubbles drift overhead. The note tucked in the broken glass reads: "Le Parasseux indigne de vivre" (the lazy one unworthy of living). The soap bubbles and the crumbling wall suggest the fleeting nature of time, and the laurel wreath symbolizes glory ignored." (The Walters Art Museum)

The English-language word "vanity" originated from a Latin word, vanus, that meant empty, or a void. Interestingly, the English word "vanish" originated from the same root word as "vanity" i.e. vanity can also be a degenerate process by which valuable substance is removed.

vanity "Vain" and "vanity" are used to translate a number of Hebrew words of the Holy Scriptures, including:

  • The Hebrew word, pronounced sheh-ker, that means sham or deceit. Example:

    "20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." (Exodus 20:7 KJV)

  • The Hebrew word, pronounced haw-bawl, that means to make empty. Example:

    "17:15 And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them." (2 Kings 17:15 KJV)

  • The Hebrew word, pronounced shawv, that means in a deceptive way. Example:

    "3:22 Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the LORD our God. 3:23 Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel." (Jeremiah 3:22-23 KJV)

  • The Hebrew word, pronounced too-hoo, that means waste or desolate. Example:

    "12:21 And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain." (1 Samuel 12:21 KJV)

  • The Hebrew word, pronounced reek, that means to make empty. Example:

    "4:2 O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing?" (Psalm 4:2 KJV)

The first part of King Solomon's life was filled with joy and satisfaction because Solomon was filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Notice how Solomon was able to celebrate the meaning of the physical Creation because he then enabled himself to see that the LORD does nothing in vain.

"4:29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. 4:30 And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. 4:31 For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about. 4:32 And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. 4:33 And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. 4:34 And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom." (1 Kings 4:29-34 KJV)

But Solomon squandered his Godly Wisdom in his later years and replaced it with mere dead-end "worldly smarts" (see Ecclesiastes 1: Solomon's Ballad To Losers). He also apparently developed an alcohol-abuse problem ("I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine" verse 3 below; see also Seed-Bearing Plants: For Food Or For Folly?).

When he made himself vain, in a number of ways, Solomon began to perceive the real world as nothing more than a reflection of his own vanity - even though it was Solomon, not the Creation, that became vain. Solomon made himself like a little child blowing bubbles and watching them pop - not a bad thing for a child to do, but not a good thing for someone who was once a righteous man of God.

"2:1 I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity. 2:2 I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it? 2:3 I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.

2:4 I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: 2:5 I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: 2:6 I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees: 2:7 I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me: 2:8 I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. 2:9 So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me.

2:10 And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. 2:11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

2:12 And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done. 2:13 Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness. 2:14 The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

2:15 Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. 2:16 For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.

2:17 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit. 2:18 Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. 2:19 And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity. 2:20 Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun. 2:21 For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil. 2:22 For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? 2:23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.

2:24 There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God. 2:25 For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto, more than I? 2:26 For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit." (Ecclesiastes 2:1-26 KJV)

Fact Finder: The Third Commandment is "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." (Exodus 20:7 KJV). Many have assumed that blaspheming the Name of the LORD, as profanity, is only what is meant by the Commandment (see Blaspheming The Name Of God). But as explained above, the actual word that is translated as "vain" means a sham or deceit i.e. claiming to be Christian while ignoring or disobeying that the LORD actually commanded to do to follow Him. What did the LORD say about that?
See Why Call Me, Lord, Lord, and Do Not The Things Which I Say? and Strait And Straight


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This Day In History, May 31

1279 BC: Rameses II ("Rameses The Great") became Pharaoh of Egypt (see also How Long Were They Slaves?).

Martin Frobisher 455: Amidst the chaos and civil strife during the fall of the "superpower" Roman Empire (see The Election Of Kings to understand how and why the Roman Empire died from moral decay, not military defeat) Roman Emperor Petronius Maximus was stoned to death by a mob while fleeing Rome. The original Roman Empire was succeeded by Germany (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).

526: In one of the deadliest seismic events on record, an earthquake at Antioch, Turkey, killed 250,000 people.

1223: The Battle of the Kalka River; Genghis Khan's Mongol army defeated the Kievan Rus and Cumans.

1433: Pope Eugenius IV crowned Sigismund as Holy Roman Emperor (see Emperors and Popes).

1578: Martin Frobisher sailed from Harwich, England to the vast territory that became Canada. The bay that Frobisher explored is was named after him, Frobisher Bay.

1678: Lady Godiva rode naked through Coventry, England to protest high taxation. The people took part in the protest, agreeing not to look. All kept their promise except a certain individual named Tom - hence the origin of the term "Peeping Tom."

1859: Big Ben and the famous clock tower of the Houses of Parliament in London, began operating.

1866: The Fenian Invasion of Canada. John O'Neill led 850 invaders across the Niagara River at Buffalo, New York/Fort Erie, Ontario. After a firefight with Canadian militia and British regulars, they retreated back across the river.

1902: The Treaty of Vereeniging was signed in Pretoria to end the Boer War. Over 5,000 British troops and at least 4,000 Boers were killed in action.

1910: The Union of South Africa was founded.

1911: In Belfast, the White Star liner Titanic was launched. It sank on its maiden voyage 11 months later in April 1912.

1916: The Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle of the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars). The British Fleet under the command of Sir John Jellicoe & Sir David Beatty engaged the Kaiserliche Marine under the command of Reinhard Scheer and Franz von Hipper.

1927: The last Ford "Model T" was manufactured, ending a production run of over 15 million vehicles.

1935: An earthquake at Quetta, Pakistan killed 40,000 people.

1942: During the Second World War, Japanese Navy submarines began attacks on Sydney, Australia.

1942: During the Second World War, German warplanes bombed Canterbury, England, causing severe damage to the Canterbury Cathedral.

1961: South Africa proclaimed itself a republic and left the British Commonwealth.

1974: Israel and Syria signed an agreement concerning Golan Heights.

1985: Over 40 tornadoes struck Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario, leaving 76 dead in the two countries.


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