What Did the Wise Man Mean?
IN THE Bible book of Ecclesiastes, wise King Solomon pointed to some of the endless cycles that are associated with the earth. One generation is replaced by another generation. The sun rises and sets. Winds keep on blowing from various directions. Rivers and torrents empty into the sea but never fill it.—Eccl. 1:4-7.
Thereafter the wise man observed: “All things are wearisome; no one is able to speak of it. The eye is not satisfied at seeing, neither is the ear filled from hearing. That which has come to be, that is what will come to be; and that which has been done, that is what will be done; and so there is nothing new under the sun. Does anything exist of which one may say: ‘See this; it is new’? It has already had existence for time indefinite; what has come into existence is from time prior to us. There is no remembrance of people of former times, nor will there be of those also who will come to be later. There will prove to be no remembrance even of them among those who will come to be still later on.”—Eccl. 1:8-11.
Evidently it was the endless repetition of things that King Solomon had in mind when he stated the foregoing. So many repetitive cycles existed that a person would become weary in trying to describe them all. He would be ‘at a loss for words.’
The repetition of cycles can affect man in such a way that his senses of seeing and hearing are not satisfied but desire something new or novel. And yet there really is nothing new in the natural cycles nor in the events of common day-to-day living. Generations long prior to ours witnessed the same natural cycles. And in human affairs the same things have been observed throughout the centuries. There have been advancement, regression, disappointment, oppression, corruption and revolution, followed by still more oppression and corruption. People have had the same hopes, desires and ambitions. Then, when they died, they were forgotten by later generations. Even persons who made a notable name for themselves faded from the memory of the living and were eclipsed by those alive who enjoy prominence.
Of what benefit is this information? It can protect us from attaching undue importance to the pursuit of materialistic goals that leave the Creator out of consideration. All earthly attainments are but temporary. Therefore, instead of making such the chief goal in life, it is far better to enjoy the fruitage of one’s labor and make a good name with God, who can restore us to life, setting before us an eternal, happy future.—Eccl. 3:22.