Living the Dream

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Human experience is tangled in a weave of irony and contradiction.  As much as the triumph of human stories symbolic of a “rags to riches” akin to Cinderella abound, there are equally a good accounting of those who pursued plenty yet ended up in poverty; those who vied for victory yet experienced vanquish; and those who longed for love yet endured loathing.

The recent debacle surrounding the Panama Papers (exposition of a supposedly clandestine, illegal network of foreign, tax-sheltered investments) engulfed the world in a firestorm of controversy and confusion.  While investigations continue to probe into the validity of the information that leaked out into an already suspecting society, this fiasco exposes yet again man’s penchant for malicious avarice and propensity for material abundance.

It is within this human predilection to satisfy himself with worldly pursuits that Solomon sets out with his own personal examination and exploration as expressed in the book of Ecclesiastes.  In tackling the various dimensions of personal pleasure, Solomon, the epitome of the earthly man who experiences it all, winds up with a heavenly revelation he articulates in the last two verses of the book:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

When Solomon assumed the throne after the death of his father, David, he presented a humble petition to the Lord to equip him with the wisdom necessary to bring divine discernment in his leadership of the nation of Israel as his prayer constitutes in 1 Kings 3:9:

“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? “

God was pleased with this prayer and even more pleased to grant such a noble request in His immediate response to Solomon as spoken to in 1 Kings 3:10-13:

“And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.  And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.  And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.”

The Lord emphasized His delight in that Solomon did not set his heart in the hankering for health (“hast not asked for thyself long life”), or want of wealth (“neither hast asked riches for thyself”), nor expunge his enemies (“nor hast asked the life of thine enemies”).  Moreover, God’s extreme pleasure in Solomon’s prayer resulted in the provision of those things that he did not desire (well, at least in the beginning of his reign) – treasure and tribute.

Yet, while Solomon’s inaugurates his kingship with a deep aspiration for godly wisdom, eventually his inner man takes over and moves him towards the dangerous appetite for women and the allure of wealth.  Although he concludes his research into the vanity of life in a righteous disposition, the personal pursuits he engages in great detail in Ecclesiastes paints the picture of how even the wisest among us can be entrapped in the vicious cycle of seeking satisfaction in the empty promises of a purely tellurian ambition.

It’ll be more wise to ask before it’s too late, “Who’s dream are you living?  What are you living for?”  Solomon, one of the wealthiest and wisest who ever lived, concluded that nothing beats living the dream that leads to eternal security.  Are you living that dream today?

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