12 I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. 14 I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. 15 What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted. 16 I said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. 18 Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.
I mentioned yesterday why I was intrigued to study and learn this book of the bible. Solomon set out to know as much about the world and satiate his lust for knowledge and wisdom. It is quite interesting what he says about it here though, isn’t it? He describes it as chasing after the wind! It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. What an amazing statement! Thirsting after knowledge and wisdom is an affliction. It is something we have been burdened with since the beginning, when there was a tree of knowledge set before us of which we were not to partake. In reading the first few chapters of Genesis, we learn why it was a bad idea but why was it there in the first place? I believe Solomon will go into more detail about this as we continue reading his dissertation; we get a glimpse of what he has found in verse 18, “there is much grief and pain.” Why is this?
Our current society continues chasing the wind. We want to know more: we research, we experience, we revisit, we experiment, we ignore warnings and cautions. Straight up, we are ignorant and disobedient. God has given us (and continues to give us) a simple choice: the tree of knowledge or the tree of life. Do you want to know everything or do you want to live? Do you want to “travel and see the world” or do you want to stay put and have an intimate relationship with God? Don’t get me wrong; I’m only using a metaphor to explain the intent here. Jesus clearly told us to “go unto all ends of the earth and make disciples.” What I am saying here is to think about our attitudes that mimic ADHD; we can never stay put! We are never satisfied. Kids today are so anxious to leave the nest that they are leaving home at earlier ages, neglecting the instruction of their parents. Our divorce rate is skyrocketing because we want instant gratification instead of toughing it through the hard times and developing a stronger relationship with our mates. Technology lets us travel faster, farther, and more often than ever before but we barely know who lives next to us or who is watching our children while we are gallivanting around the world. We would be wise to take to heart what Solomon is telling us here: he’s done it all and it isn’t worth it. But that isn’t good enough for us; we have to experience it ourselves to see if it is true.
It is an interesting dichotomy because this is how we are built. Although we are built to experience the truth and faithfulness of God by testing what He says and experiencing it, we test Him by doing what He advises against and bearing the negative consequences instead of doing what He instructs we should do and reaping the benefits. I believe this is the grievous task that Solomon is referencing. We are designed to strive after God and develop a relationship with Him, but we continue looking in all the wrong places. If we are not seeking towards God, we are merely chasing after His absence and if we don’t turn around, we will be experiencing it for eternity.