“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
No, this isn’t a Christian text in support of reincarnation. This is the observation of a wise, old King who had lived a very complete and dramatic life. King Solomon had figured out, through the observation of life and the world around him, that humans will be humans and that life will be life. Pretty pessimistic right?
It is, if you come at it from the same old “Oh woe is me” view point. And let’s face it, too many of us live fully immersed in this perspective every single day of our lives. Constantly making life all about us, as if there wasn’t anything bigger than ourselves happening all around us. As if we were the center of everything. Not simply one actor in one act of an eternal, divine play. A play that was being performed long before we were even born and will continue to be performed long after we die.
King Solomon wasn’t stating this perspective to reinforce the same old “Oh woes is me” view point. King Solomon was stating this perspective with the intention of instilling peace and possibility. A sense of order to everything. A camaraderie with history and an understanding of the foibles of human nature.
A sense of knowing that this is what is, so there must be something more. For God wouldn’t simply allow his children to live in a perpetual state of repeating the same mistakes and living in the same way forever. King Solomon isn’t raging against the machine. King Solomon is embracing the machine and inviting us to get our heads out of our (you know where) and live into the possibility of what is to come.
King Solomon is inviting us to embrace a new perspective, a perspective that even King Solomon couldn’t experience, but only imagine. A perspective not of self-defeat, but a perspective of freedom. The freedom of knowing that we are standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. We are able to see their choices, their perspectives, their outcomes and we are able to learn and to grow. We are able to dream and envision something new, something beyond us and our current situation.
See, it is hard for you and for me to read King Solomon’s words without wearing Jesus goggles. Yet, King Solomon couldn’t wear Jesus goggles. For he wrote these words some 250 years before the birth of Jesus. All King Solomon could do, in his wisdom, is to believe that there has to be more to the story.
King Solomon was also expressing the idea that we can’t be good enough on our own. For we keep making the same mistakes over and over again. In the midst of hopelessness, King Solomon was expressing hope. The possibility that someday, somehow, someway, there will be more to the story than what we are currently experiencing.
King Solomon knew that humans can’t change. History had proven it to him and history continues to prove it to us. Yet, in his own way, in his own time, through his own understanding of the love and grace of God, King Solomon embraced the truth that humans can be changed.
The first step in the process of being changed is to understand that change can only come from without. Until we understand and embrace that we are without the power to change, we will never seek the very power, the only power that can change us. King Solomon was laying the groundwork, making the path straight for Jesus. He was introducing us to ourselves, and inviting us to embrace our withoutness. So that we could see the possibility and embrace the hope of something new, someday, somehow, someway.