“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:1,2 NKJV)
The word vanity catches our attention in the book of Ecclesiastes, and appears over 30 times.
Vanity is defined as “excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, etc.” A person who is vain has a lack of real value. The word carries the connotation of hollowness, worthlessness, and selfishness. Activities related to vanity are trivial and pointless. “In its modern sense, vanity is considered a form of self-idolatry, in which one rejects God for the sake of his own image, thereby divorcing himself from the graces of God. (Wikipedia, article on Vanity)
Solomon’s use of the term vanity refers to emptiness like a vapor that appears and soon vanishes. The Message paraphrases verse 1 and 2 as follows:
These are the words of the Quester, David’s son and king in Jerusalem. “Smoke, nothing but smoke (That’s what the Quester says.) There’s nothing to anything – it’s all smoke.”
Can you imagine the great King Solomon reaching the pinnacle of his career and finding that the meaning of life to be nothing but smoke, illusion, vapor, nothingness, and emptiness?
Dr. David Jeremiah asks the question in his book “Searching for Heaven on Earth,” What did you find at the Everest of your own life? Perhaps you received a promotion, won the lottery, made the dream vacation, got the book published – all for the thorny crown of unexpected despondency.” (xxi)
I remember the feeling of exultation and let-down after self-publishing my first devotional book, “A-Z Daily Devotional Journal” back in 2010. Joy is often followed by emptiness after reaching a climatic experience. That is apparently what happened to Solomon as his sensual appetites pulled his attention away from God, and focused it upon worldly things. “The drifting came slowly, deceptively, but the further he moved from the Lord and Creator, the greater became his emptiness, frustration, and confusion.” (Searching for Heaven on Earth, Dr. David Jeremiah, p. xviii)
How many are there in this world who feel life is worthless and empty – nothing but smoke? Jesus is the only answer to the true meaning of life. Do you know him? Have you claimed his promise of salvation through faith in his work on the cross?