Nothing New Under the Sun
Earth is witness to a great deal of activity, but it is essentially purposeless, a great deal of sound and fury but with no advancement in quality of life or purposeful direction. Solomon's word-pictures show mankind striving to see and hear new things, but the reality is more repetition of the same old things. He pictures mankind as little more than a milling mass. A partial reason for this is that mankind seems to be cursed with a short memory while at the same time having an insatiable thirst for novelty.
And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean. Understanding this desire, entrepreneurs take advantage of it to make money.
So, there must be new, better, bigger, redesigned, more serviceable, more attractive, faster, safer, and more economical models each year. The entertainment industry thrives on this desire by trying to fill people's need for emotional satisfaction by devising new angles to tell the same old stories. However, what this need really exposes is that our present life, combined with what we are looking forward to in the future, is not fulfilling enough to satisfy us. A vital element is missing from life: Solomon does not mean that there are no new technologies or inventions.
By saying "there is nothing new under the sun," he is attempting to stimulate the reader to consider what might effectively improve the quality of his life. The bulk of mankind lives by the same basic patterns as Adam and Eve did after God kicked them out of the Garden. Solomon is searching for a hopeful way of life, one that will fill a person with joy and his mind with pure, godly inspiration and character.
He then states, "All things are wearisome" Ecclesiastes 1: Do we agree with his assessment to this point? Is he right in his litany of mankind's purposeless, hamster-like, monotonous life that leads nowhere?
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If so, Solomon has achieved his purpose of making us understand that he is making sense—that "vanity of vanities" is the only honest assessment of life on earth as long as people are doggedly, but without a large measure of truth, seeking purpose and profit only "under the sun.
What Solomon has shown to this point is not the full story. In fact, he has just begun! Using generalities, he has exposed only the broad extent of the problem. Specifics will be added later. Nevertheless, he has already revealed the key to changing our approach to life: It lies in taking on a different perspective.
If a person does this, then we must accept the fruit, as described by Solomon, to be inevitable because that is all that carnality can produce. However, a higher reality exists, and it is what Solomon urges his readers to change to. It is the spiritual reality we have been created to participate in. The "thing" in this context is not what we might normally think of.
Remember, this is a treatise on life, not on technology. For example, a lot of new things have come along, such as lasers, hydrogen bombs, and automobiles. In this context, these things are not really new. Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy.
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Enrich your faith and grow in spiritual maturity with the incredible Bible study and devotional books listed below. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after. Reading and navigating Ecclesiastes can be confusing and perplexing, if we neglect this simple working premise: Solomon is dramatically describing life here on earth, and the folly of that existence when God is left out.
In the above section, there is really a simple thought reported by the writer: When life here on earth is lived without God, it is really soon to become very boring.
If, therefore, we root our hope in the next generation or time, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. It will simply not be that different. We live and die. Others are born, etc. The world is a very repetitive place. So, any search for real meaning and lasting profit cannot come from under the sun. Examples are given from nature sun, wind and water. Once again, the idea of sameness within apparent change is illustrated: