Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Ecclesiastes 8:16--9:6.
Ecclesiastes 8:16 When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:) 17 Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it: year farther; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.
Here is yet another word of consolation from Solomon: There is comfort for the wise man in light of the realization of his own limitations, spiritually and intellectually, and in light of the incomprehensibility of God and his sovereign actions.
In this word of comfort Solomon confesses that he came to the limits of his finite understanding and realized he would never know everything about this world or about the God who made it.
Solomon begins by reflecting on his search for wisdom and understanding (v. 16; cf. 1:17). He notes the diligence he exerted in study both day and night. He spent many a sleepless night poring over his studies (cf. 12:12).
He continues in v. 17, noting that he beheld “all the work of God.” Solomon was a king. He studied government. He was a builder and architect who constructed the temple and the royal palace. He was a patron of the arts collecting singers and musicians around him. He was a sage and a poet writing 3,000 proverbs and 1005 songs (2 Kings 4:32). 2 Kings 4:33 says he knew about trees and adds, “he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.” So, he was a naturalist and a zoologist. He also studied history, psychology, and theology. Solomon was a polymath (an expert in many fields). When we think of Solomon we should think of someone like a Leonardo Da Vinci or a Thomas Jefferson, in his ingenuity and intellectual curiosity.
And what did he find in the end? There are some things beyond man’s limitation which he cannot know. There are some things so great about God that we cannot comprehend. Solomon is like Job when God spoke to him out of the whirlwind:
Job 40:1 Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said, 2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. 3 Then Job answered the Lord, and said, 4 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
He is like Paul in Romans 11:
Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Solomon became a Calvinist who confessed the finitude of man and the sovereignty of God!
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
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