Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.


I started teaching the book of Ecclesiastes yesterday. It is a book full of wisdom. A book that brings the reader to the conclusion that the pursuit of anything other than God is fruitless. The book begins with the fact that “All is vanity” and ends with the fact that the whole duty of man is to “fear God and keep his commandments”. The wisest man that ever lived came to these two profound conclusions. That should tell us all something.

We all pursue so many things in life, that in the end will have been an utter waste of time and energy. Toiling for the wind as Solomon says. Since the beginning God created man to have a twofold purpose, to fear God, and to obey him. Sounds simple enough, but to do this continually of our own accord is impossible. We tend to look for satisfaction in the temporal, rather than the eternal. We pursue what pleases us, rather than God. This in the end is destruction.

So many today that call themselves followers of Jesus will choose to chase after vain things rather than worship God as he has commanded. They choose self-serving activities, and pursuits on the LORD’s day rather than worship him. They worship self instead, while saying things like, “God understands how important these things are to me.” I would dare say HE does understand…

God does understand us more than we understand ourselves. He knows our hearts, we cannot hide from him. Our hearts betray us. We must chase after what matters. We must seek God and obey his will. Chasing after what please us is to put ourselves before God. That is not where we belong. May we never forget what Solomon wrote; “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” The whole duty, not some of our duties, but the whole of our existence. Anything less is to shirk our duty.

© 2015 Leo J. Woodman


5 thoughts on ““Vanity”

  1. I understand one of the most important distinctions is “under the sun” and “under heaven.”
    “Under the sun” is what is done in this world and “under heaven” is what is done before God.
    I hope my understanding on that is correct.
    The word “duty” is not in the Greek New Testament, so fearing God and keeping his commandments is indeed the “whole” of man.

  2. May I ask where you got the illustration? The “dresser” as we call it now, used to be called a vanity. The skull shows the vanity of earthly things, and the woman looking at herself in the mirror also reveals another vanity.

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