Chapter 1: Increase Knowledge = Increase in Sorrow
Solomon looked back over all the wealth he had, his accomplishments, and his possessions. And to him it all seemed meaningless. Even though he had everything, he was still unfulfilled and dissatisfied. He believed that serving God was the most important option. In this chapter, he separates wisdom into two categories:
- Human knowledge, reasoning, or philosophy
- The wisdom that can only come from God.
“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever.” (Ecclesiastes 1:4)
The Earth and the Kingdom of God will always stand! The Earth will go through generations of people and will always stand. This is the cycle of the Earth.
“There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be a remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.” (Ecclesiastes 1:11)
This is very interesting and something I believe to be a fairly unique LDS doctrine. We believe in the Plan of Salvation and part of that plan meant we came from a pre-mortal world (pre-earth life). In this preexistence we were taught all of the things of the Gospel and this very Plan was laid out before us and those of us who have been born, or will be born ACCEPTED this plan. However, in order to be successful in this life and truly have agency we had to have our memory of the pre-existence wiped away. This memory is there, but is covered up be a “veil” which at times can be thin. This is the reason we have “psychics”.
“For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” (Ecclesiastes 1:18)
This has always been a favorite scripture of mine. Partly because I LOVE studying the scriptures, and in this verse it makes it clear… the more knowledge you have the more sorrow you will also have. I know this sound odd, but it makes total sense! If you have no knowledge of anything, you are innocent. You are in a childlike state, perhaps you are mentally handicapped? OR have some other form of disability that limits your mental capacity. Think about this for a moment… have you ever met a mentally handicapped person that was always SAD? Hardly ever, it is extremely rare. Because they don’t have to worry about the things that cause everyone else so much pain, anger or fear. The more knowledge you have the higher probability of being sad for the world and its current state.
If you never read the scriptures and never know God you can’t be judged for the things you do. But if you have a knowledge of Good and Evil and commit EVIL, knowing that it is wrong, you will be judged for that.
Chapter 2: God Gives Wisdom and Knowledge
Solomon conducted his search for life’s meaning as an experiment. The first thing he tried to satisfy himself with was pleasure. He bought more slaves, herds, and flocks. He acquired gold, silver and peculiar treasure of kings. He surrounded himself with jesters, singers, and many beautiful women. This still did not satisfy him. He referred to it as “…vanity [excessive pride] and vexation [something that provokes irritability or anxiety] of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11) In other versions of the Bible he describes it as “…a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11 – NIV) We can feel it when it passes but we can’t grasp it or keep hold of it. He believed that we must not base ourselves on the pursuit of happiness, but on the solid foundation of God. He said this because our accomplishments, wealth, and materials mean nothing after death. He explains this:
“… 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. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool?” (Ecclesiastes 2:19-19) How much wealth in the world has been earned through hard working parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. Who, when they die, pass it on to their children and the children abuse or misuse the money? I think it happens often and in my personal opinion that is why there is so much entitlement in the world today. People do not know how to work with their hands anymore.
Solomon leaves us with one last piece of advice in this chapter; “… he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour…” (Ecclesiastes 2:24) This should be something we all remember, we must do something that we enjoy. It is like that saying; if you do something you love… you will never work a day in your life. Go find something you enjoy and then have pride in your work!