MEANING AND SIGNIFICANCE
“Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee, how great Thou art; how great Thou art!” (Carl Gustav Boberg, 1859–1940).
Read Ecclesiastes 1:1–11
Everything Is Meaningless
1 The words of the Teacher,[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
3 What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.
a Ecclesiastes 1:1 Or the leader of the assembly; also in verses 2 and 12
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat is your purpose in life?
I love that the Bible records the honest thoughts of ordinary broken people! I think we can all relate to the sentiment expressed in this passage. Even if you’re feeling positive and excited about life at the moment, you’ve probably experienced what it is to feel like everything you do is meaningless.
Generations come and go (4), nothing is really new (9) and anything you achieve will probably be forgotten when you are gone (11). These are all themes the Teacher will pick up on continually throughout Ecclesiastes.
It is good for us to be reminded of our place in the universe. We are very, very small! In a world where the population is over 7.5 billion, we really are quite insignificant. However old you feel yourself to be today, the years of your life are nothing in comparison with the years the Earth has been turning!
What’s really incredible is that the God of the universe loves us (John 3:16), knows us individually (Psa. 139:16) and even listens to us (Matt. 6:6)! The place to find meaning and significance is not primarily in our work (3) or in how we might be remembered (11), but in how much God loves us.
Meditate on the wonder of the Almighty God in relationship with insignificant you! Psalm 139 is a good place to start: “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar” (2).
Pray through Psalm 139.