He Tried It All!
"Vanity of vanities; all is vanity." - Ecclesiastes 1:2
Thirty-seven times the word "vanity" occurs in the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Vanity is the key word of the Book of Ecclesiastes.
"Vanity of vanities...All is vanity!"
- These words are not due to temporary depression.
- They are not uttered because of some passing adverse circumstance.
- They were not mentioned because of some passing bitterness.
- They are the result of experiences which came after deliberate thought.
- They are not the words of someone who was bored with routine tasks.
With all that he had and all that he possessed, this mighty king could not and did not find
- These are the words of one who experienced about all aspects of human experience.
- These are the words of Solomon who possessed great wisdom.
- These are the words of one who possessed great wealth.
genuine satisfaction in temporal and earthly material things.
Solomon tried many things hoping to find happiness, peace and contentment.
After trying many things people are trying today, he cried: "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity!"
Solomon Tried Wisdom.
"I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly." (Ecclesiastes 1:17).
Solomon knew as much as any mortal man could know.
He was a scientist.
He was a philosopher.
He was a moralist and a historian.
He was a publicist and a poet.
His mind was trained to observe and to meditate.
He could interpret the facts of history and the facts of science.
He was familiar with botany.
"He spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop
that springeth out of the wall." (I Kings 4:33)
He interpreted the movements of the heavenly bodies.
He sailed the seas.
He knew the birds.
He wrote parables of the fields and the forests.
He gathered great wealth of gold and precious stones.
He wrote and published books.
He wrote thousands of enduring proverbs.
He interpreted human experience.
He philosophized about divine revelation.
But with all this, he missed the one essential truth and found no rest for his heart.
Solomon with all his glory with all his wisdom and knowledge, cried, "Vanity of vanities;
all is vanity !"
"And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly; I perceived that
this also is vexation of spirit." (Ecclesiastes 1:17)
Once, a man traveled many miles to interview a distinguished scholar.
The butler ushered him into the study of the great scholar.
He was cordially greeted.
Before seating himself, he asked this question of the noted scholar: " Doctor, I have come
a long way to ask you just one question.
I observe that the walls of your room are filled with books.
This room is literally lined with them from ceiling to floor.
I suppose you have read them all.
I know you have written many books.
You have traveled the world over; you have held intimate converse with the world's wisest men.
Tell me, if you will, after the years you have spent in study, out of the things you have learned,
what is the one thing best worth knowing? "
The great scholar's face flushed with emotion.
He placed, with clumsy gentleness, both hands over the hands of his caller.
And he said: " My dear sir, out of all the things I have learned there are only
two lessons worth knowing.
The first is, I am a great sinner.
The second is, Jesus Christ is a great Saviour.
In the knowledge of these two facts as applied in my own personal experience lies
all my happiness and all my hopes ! "
"In that man's answer many things that men may know are not the best things worth knowing."
-- Dr. R. G. Lee
"Men may treasure rags and throw away treasures.
A man may know all about the rocks, and his heart be as hard as they are.
A man may know all about the winds and his life be swept by passions more fierce than the winds.
A man may know all about the tides and the seas, and his life resemble their troubled waters
have no peace or rest.
A man may know all about lights -- the light of showers of meteors, the light of phosphorus,
the light of millions of stars, the light of the moon, candle light, lamp light, electric light,
and not know Jesus who said, ' I am the light of the world.' "
A man may know all about roads in the country, roads in the jungle, roads through burning deserts,
and not know Jesus who said, ' I am the way.' "
-- Dr. R. G. Lee
"What shall it profit a man if he be a great artist and know not Jesus, the one altogether lovely?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great architect and know not Jesus, the Chief Corner Stone?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great baker and know not Jesus, the Living Bread?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great banker and know not Jesus, the Priceless Possession?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great biologist and know not Jesus, the Life?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great builder and know not Jesus, the Sure Foundation?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great carpenter and know not Jesus, the Door?
What shall it profit a man if be a great doctor and know not Jesus, the Great Physician?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great educator and know not Jesus, the Teacher?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great engineer and know not Jesus, the New and Living Way?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great farmer and know not Jesus, the Sower and Lord of Harvests?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great florist and know not Jesus, the Rose of Sharon?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great geologist and know not Jesus, the Rock of Ages?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great astronomer and know not Jesus, the Star of Bethlehem?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great horticulturist and know not Jesus, the True Vine?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great judge and know not Jesus, the Righteous judge?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great jurist and know not Jesus, the True Witness?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great jeweler and know not Jesus, the Pearl of Great Price?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great lawyer and know not Jesus, the Sinner's Advocate?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great philanthropist and know not Jesus, the Unspeakable Gift?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great philosopher and know not Jesus, the Wisdom of God?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great sculptor and know not Jesus, the Living Stone?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great student and know not Jesus, the Incarnate Truth?
What shall it profit a man if he be a great sinner and know not Jesus, the Lamb of God?"
-- From Dr. R. G. Lee
Mere human wisdom never satisfies.
Even if we knew all things, there are many things we never would and never could know.
There are millions of things we do not know.
Write down all we know; and it is so meager.
But even if we knew all that there is to know in the realm of human knowledge,
it would be so disappointing if we did not learn the two things most worth knowing.
Solomon Also Tried Wine.
" I sought in mine heart, to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom;
. . . till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do
under the heaven all the days of their life." (Ecclesiastes 2:3)
Having tried earthly knowledge and wisdom and yet fail to find satisfaction and contentment,
Solomon next turns to wine.
"Wine maketh glad the heart." (Psalm 104:15)
And so we hear him saying, "Come, now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy thou pleasure."
That is the pleasures that wine is supposed to give.
So Solomon "descends to the realm of the purely physical to cheer his flesh with wine."
Solomon said that he "descended to the low plain of sordid drunkenness."
" I ... give myself to wine, yet acquainting my heart with wisdom."
Solomon may not have been in the gutter, and he may not have done some of the foolish things
many do under the influence of wine.
But he wrote: " Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling?
who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?
They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup,
when it moveth itself aright.
At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.
Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea,
or as he that lieth upon the top of the mast.
They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick-they have beaten me,
and I felt it not; when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again."
He discovered for himself the bitterness of that experience and observation
which one finds in the dregs of the sparkling cup, the sting of the adder, and the poison of the serpent!
When someone invites you to " have a drink, " they are inviting you to drink
that which will dull your senses, scramble your brain, and blight your life.
Would that person take offense if you should ask him to drink rubbing alcohol
or a solution of arsenic.
To "have a drink," whether it is at the club, or in the office, or in the hotel,
or at the college or on the joy ride is to drink liquor of which every drop
is loaded with disappointment when it comes to bringing lasting joy.
Men and women have done many foolish and tragic things under the influence of strong drink.
A bottle of alcohol would be an appropriate tombstone over many graves.
Strong drink has ruined hopes, broken families, brought disappointments, bitterness,
and all kinds of misery.
"Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise."
This truth of God has been proven through the ages.
On an early Egyptian tomb are these words:
" His earthly tenement was shattered by beer and wine, and his spirit departed
before it was called for."
In 550 B.C. Buddha gave a statement that flashed out in that day as lightning:
"Drink not liquors that intoxicate and disturb the reason."
Xenophon, 300 years before Christ's birth in Bethlehem, said:
" Temperance means first, moderation in healthful indulgence and,
secondly, abstinence from things dangerous, as the use of intoxicating wines."
Pliny, the Elder, speaking in 79 A.D., said:
" There is nothing about which we put ourselves to more trouble than wine "
Chaucer chastised the winebibber in 1340 with this statement:
"Character and shame depart when wine comes in."
Shakespeare, with words of wisdom wrote:
" O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil "
Abraham Lincoln, said: " Liquor might have defenders, but no defense.
Whether or not the world would be vastly benefited by a total and final banishment from it,
of all intoxicating drinks, seems to me not an open question."
In 1898 Gladstone said: " The ravages of drink are greater than those of war,
pestilence and famine combined. "
In 1920 Georges Clemenceau declared: " It is definitely settled that alcohol is a poison;
a poison destructive of human energy and, for this reason, of society as a whole."
Sir Wilfred Grenfell, whose name has been on the tongues of multitudes of English-speaking peoples, said:
" Alcohol has wrecked more lives, starved more children and murdered more women
than any other single factor."
Drink destroys the freedom of the drinker.
Watch him stagger and fall. He cannot walk straight or control his legs.
Listen to him shout and curse.
He does not know what he is saying, and has no control of his thoughts and his tongue.
His eyes are blood-shot and blurred.
He cannot control his passions.
His moral sense is blunted.
The drunkard is pitiful.
He is enslaved in body, mind and soul.
Drink destroys his family.
Look at his wife in her ragged clothes.
Look at the bruises on her body.
See how she and the children are deprived of the necessities of life.
See the broken-hearted parent who mourns the death of a drunkard son
in a public brawl or on the highway.
" They are overcome with wine " (Isaiah 28:1).
Men may consume strong drink, but it is strong drink that consumes them.
Strong drink will dissipate their substance and their health.
It will doom their happiness, and destroy their precious talents.
"Strong drink does our schools and colleges no good.
It does our secret orders no good. It does our merchants no good.
It does our manufacturers no good. It does our railroads no good.
It does our churches no good. It does no man any good.
I do not claim that all I have written above is strictly original.
But I do claim that all I have written is to give emphasis ...against strong drink
and to make declaration that if I had one hair in my head that was in favor of strong drink "
in any shape, form, or fashion " I would pull it out.
And I take my stand with Guy Mark, who said-.
"I am dry, bone dry because I have known unborn babes to be cursed through booze;
little children to starve because of booze, young people to be stunted for life through booze;
gifted women to become imbeciles through booze; leaders in industry to become beggars
in the street because of booze; wedding rings to be sold for booze;
every article of furniture to be pawned for booze; fortunes to be squandered for booze;
girls to become prostitutes through booze; boys to become criminals through booze;
women to be hanged because of booze; and men to go to the electric chair because of booze.
Because I have never known booze to contribute to the happiness of a single child,
or to the mental ability of a single young person, or to the moral uplift of a single middle-aged person,
or to the comfort and blessedness of a single old person."
-- Dr. R. G. Lee
Think of the disappointments that come with the drinking of wine.
And remember what the Bible said, " Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging;
and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." (Proverbs 20:1)
" Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.
Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh;
For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty; and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags."
" Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him,
and makest him drunk also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness." (Habbakuk 2:15)
" It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink.
Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts."
But Solomon found more disappointment in wealth.
Solomon Tried Wealth.
" Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.
He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase;
this is also vanity.
When goods increase, they are increased that eat them; and what good is there
to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes ?
The sleep of the labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much:
but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.
There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely: riches kept for the owners
thereof to their hurt.
But those riches perish by evil travail; and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand."
In these impressive words Solomon found that riches was also disappointing.
He found bitterness in the use of wine, and found no peace in human wisdom alone.
He turned to wealth, hoping to find the joy and the peace the human heart needs.
Here is a list of some of his wealth:
" And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents,
and brought it to king Solomon." (I Kings 9:28)
" And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir
great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones. " (I Kings 10:11)
" Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore
and six talents of gold." (I Kings 10:14)
"And king,Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold,
six hundred shekels of gold went to one target.
And he made three hundred shields, of beaten gold;
three pounds of gold went to one shield; and the, king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon."
(I Kings 10:16,17)
" Besides that he had of the merchantmen and of the traffic of spice merchants,
and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country." (I Kings 10:15)
" For the king had at sea a navy of Tarshish with the navy of Hiram: once every three years
came the navy of Tarshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks."
(I Kings 10:22)
"And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars made he to be
as the sycamore trees that are in the vale, for abundance." (I Kings 10:27)
" And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen;
and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen,
whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem." (I Kings 10:26)
" So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom."
(I Kings 10:23)
This king knew what it was to be rich.
Gifts poured into his coffers in a continuous stream so that he was able
to hire men singers and women singers.
He built magnificent palaces for himself and his wives.
He enjoyed all that his riches could provide.
He had riches till the end of his life.
He never knew what it was to be poor.
He never was anxious about his daily bread.
Yet, even in the security of all his vast wealth, he fully realized the futility of their values.
"Vanity of vanities ! "
No one can purchase contentment.
No one can purchase peace of soul with God with his riches.
No one can buy eternal life with money -- not with all the money in the world.
No one can purchase the salvation that God gives freely.
Money does not guarantee health, or hold friends, or bring contentment!
" They that will be rich fall into a temptation and a snare, and into many foolish
and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. "
(I Timothy 6:9)
" Go to, now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth eaten.
Your gold and silver is cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against you,
and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. " (James 5:1-3)
" Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not ? for riches certainly make
themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven." (Proverbs 23:4,5)
Disappointed in wisdom, wine, and wealth, Solomon tried works
Solomon Tried Works.
Solomon built palaces.
Solomon established great public works.
Solomon increased the size and magnificence of his city.
Solomon transported forests.
He did mighty things in the matter of building cities and other great public works.
He accomplished such things as multitudes have expected to provide satisfaction for life's labors.
But when he had finished all his great works he looked out upon them and cried,
"Vanity of vanities ! "
" But Solomon was building...He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon...
And he made ...Then he made...Solomon made..." (I Kings 7:1f )
" And Solomon built Gezer, and Beth-horon the nether, and Baalath,
and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land, And all the cities of store that Solomon had,
and cities for his chariots, and cities for his horsemen, and that which Solomon desired
to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion."
(I Kings 9:17-19)
We should learn the kind of labor that brings satisfaction as taught in I Cor. 15:58:
" Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work
of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
Solomon tried to find happiness with women.
Solomon Tried Women.
When Solomon found disappointment in wisdom, in wine, in of wealth,
in great works of construction, he turned to seek happiness with women.
With all his wisdom, he played the fool with women.
With so much opportunity to do good, he delighted himself in indulgence with women.
With the power to command and to persuade, with the whole world from which to choose,
with wealth to have anything he desired, he delighted his heart with women.
" But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh,
women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;
Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel,
Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you:
for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.
And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines:
and his wives turned away his heart..." (I Kings 11:1-8)
Solomon knew what he was talking about when he said, "Give not thy strength unto women."
He spoke from the depths of bitter experience, teaching that the reproofs of instruction
are the way of life, when he said:
" For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and the reproofs of instruction
are the way of life; To keep thee from the evil women, from the flattery of the tongue
of a strange woman.
Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.
For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread;
and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.
Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned ? " (Proverbs 6:23-28)
Solomon also wrote:
" A foolish woman is clamorous; she is simple and knoweth nothing.
For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city.
To call passengers who go right on their ways; Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither:
and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet,
and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are there;
and that her guests are in the depths of hell." (Proverbs 9:13-18)
Solomon who had seven hundred wives, said:
" A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed
is as rottenness in his bones." (Proverbs 12:4)
" It is better to dwell in the corner of the house top, than with a brawling woman in a wide house. "
"It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman." (Proverbs 21:19)
Solomon also said many lovely things about women that were also true, such as,
" Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing and obtaineth favour of the Lord. "
" A prudent wife is from the Lord. " (Proverbs 19:14)
" Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. " (Proverbs31:10)
And this, moreover, this truth he uttered in language descriptive of ancient day indulgence
and descriptive also of today's indulgence:
" Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman;
That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger
which flattereth with her words.
For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, and beheld among
the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,
In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night;
And, behold there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtle of heart.
(She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:
Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner).
So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him,
I have peace offerings with me; this day have I paid my vows,
Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.
I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works,
with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.
Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.
For the good man is not at home, he is gone a long journey:
He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come at the day appointed.
With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips
she forced him.
He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool
to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth
to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life...
Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death."
( Proverbs 7:4f )
"What has not woman meant to man ?
She is the synonym of all that is holy in relation-synonym of all that is encouraging,
stimulating, and soothing in life's stress and sorrows.
Woman -- God's loveliest gift to man.
God pity the man who, in the dark hour of his dissolution, has no woman's hand to wipe away
the death damp from his brow, or to smooth his pillow, and no woman's voice
to whisper sweet words of cheer and comfort into his fast dulling ear.
Woman -- synonym of home and love, of wifehood, of motherhood, of sisterhood, of daughterhood.
Woman-synonym of all gentleness, of charm, of winsomeness, of heart's ease,
of sacrificial service.
Woman -- the uncomplaining bearer of burdens, the partner of pain and pleasure alike,
the keeper of the mysteries of life, the fount of joy, the confidante of weakness and of sorrow,
the sharer of tears and laughter.
Woman -- she means to the race all that men's hearts have yearned for, in rest from labor,
in refuge from defeat, in comfort from sorrow, in understanding and encouragement,
in reproach, in cheer and encouragement in struggle.
Many times Solomon doubtless proved all this, for he was a married man.
And yet, because he left God out and, reckoned not with his laws in relation to women,
he found the path of women a path of great disappointments.
" Having tried all the avenues of legitimate love; he tried the other way.
And so great was the disappointment and bitterness, he was constrained to cry,
'Vanity of vanities.'
Having tried all the delights of legitimate love, he then indulged himself in all the fancied pleasure
of illegitimate love, and excitation of unholy desire and indulgence of animal appetite
-- the pursuance of purely fleshly pleasure.
Here, too, for his joy he reaped ashes.
Here, too, he found his honey turned to the bitterness of gall.
Here, too, in these wide avenues of all illegitimate dealings with women,
his delight faded into distaste and disgust !
Here, too, desire became despair.
And again his soul was wrung with the cry that has saddened the centuries-
'Vanity of vanities!' "
-- The above were words of Dr. R. G. Lee
OUR ONE HOPE
Wisdom, wealth, wine, women will not bring lasting happiness,
and neither will anything else in this world.
Everyone needs to know two things.
Man must know that he is a sinner, and he must know that he needs Jesus
as his Saviour.
Everyone needs Jesus!
Only Jesus can bring the peace that passes all understanding.
Only Jesus can take away our sins that rob us of joy and
Only Jesus can take away our death and give us life everlasting.
Give yourself to Jesus and your cry of your despair will be turned into joy.
Then your lost soul will be changed into the sweet and blessed realization of eternal salvation.
You will never regret receiving Jesus as your Saviour.
You will never be disappointment with Jesus.
" I was privileged on many occasions to hear the powerful preaching of Dr. R. G. Lee.
Dr. R. G. Lee, pastor of the great Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, had no equal.
I could not touch the hem of his garment. His sermons are classics.
This sermon was adapted from one of Dr. Lee's.
I hope that it blesses you and challenges you as it has me."
-- Dr. Harold L. White