This is the part 3 of the blog series, “Gifts without God.” This series encourages Christians not to place their happiness in the distractions of the holiday season. It is focused upon Solomon’s warnings in Ecclesiastes 2:1-11. We have already explored the warnings of leisure and liquor in part 1. Then, we examined the warnings against real estate, assets, assistance, and finances in part 2.
Today, we will examine three more warnings. Three more additional sources of satisfaction. These warnings will be found in Ecclesiastes 2:8b-10.
The Warning Against Entertainment (v. 8b). Solomon places the reader’s focus upon the pursuit of entertainment by drawing attention to music, “I provided for myself male and female singers” (v. 8b). Normally, religious choirs were only males during Solomon’s time. Therefore, Solomon’s reference to female singers indicates they were present for his entertainment. In today’s world we may take our modern technology for granted. We have youtube, iPhones, bandcamp, and other streaming services that can bring top quality music into our homes with a click.
Yet still, even with our technology, we value live music. People go to festivals and concerts to chase the thrill of live entertainment. Solomon did not have some of these technological advances, but he did have the ability to assemble live entertainment for himself at his command.
Perhaps you find your happiness in entertainment. Maybe you’re looking forward to firing up the new flat screen to watch Netflix. Perhaps you’re focused on catching up on all your shows and seeing the latest movies. Perhaps these endeavors are the source of your happiness. Solomon, is warning that the individual who places the pursuit of entertainment as the center source of their satisfaction will be utterly disappointed. Movies get old and music gets played out. They cannot provide lasting satisfaction.
The Warning Against Sensuality (v. 8c). Next, Solomon warns against finding happiness in sensuality, “and the pleasures of men—many concubines” (v. 8c). This passage may be heavily debated, but I do believe it is a reference to Solomon’s weaknesses towards women. It is no secret that Solomon loved women, even if it was to his demise (1 Kgs 11). Here, Solomon indicates that he pursued women as the source of his satisfaction. Perhaps you haven’t had 1000 sexual partners like Solomon (cf. 1 Kgs 11:3). But you may have been exposed to just as many women through pornography. There are some people who will seek satisfaction in sexual pleasure.
Remember, the context of this passage is Solomon’s warning against making these pursuits the center of your life (v. 11). Sexuality does have a place in the Christian life (within marriage); and any pursuit of sexuality outside of God’s ordained order is a sin (Heb 13:4). Christian, do not take this special season or any season in life to make sexuality the center of your life—it is not the purpose for which God created you. You will not find satisfaction in the exercise of your sexuality.
The Warning Against Excess (vv. 9-10). Lastly, Solomon warns against the pursuit of excess, “All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure” (vv. 9b-10a). Just in case Solomon missed a pursuit he provides the generalizing principle of this empty life. He emphasizes the idea of hedonism—the pursuit of anything and everything that would make him happy. This is shocking considering the amount of resources he had at his disposal. He was rich and successful and so the mind can barely fathom the types of pleasures he pursued. He sought to indulge himself in the world and to find happiness in all that it had to offer.
Conclusion: Again, we must remember his overarching goal is to show the futility of these things (v. 11). Clearly, God did not make us to revolve our lives around these false sources of satisfaction. He made us for something greater. He made us to find our satisfaction in the eternal and not in the temporal. We can rejoice in Christ, which will be the topic of the fourth and final blog of this series.