Chasing after Wind
Author: Roy B. Zuck
Week of February 7, 2016
“All the things that are done under the sun . . . are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (1:14).
“Chasing the wind” was Solomon’s striking way of picturing utter uselessness. The words futility and chasing after wind occur eight times in Ecclesiastes — each time in connection with some effort of man. And they are all in the first half of the book (1:14; 2:11, 17, 26; 4:4, 6, 16; 6:9). His subject in 1:12-6:6 is on the wind-chasing futility of human effort.
Solomon the Sage then repeated a different refrain in the second half of the book. The question “Who knows what is good for a man?” and the related statement “Man cannot discover” occur in various forms in 6:12; 7:14, 24, 28; 8:7 and 17. And the thought “No one knows what is ahead” is repeated in 9:1, 12; 10:14; 11:2, 5, and 6. These themes in the second half of the book (6:10-11:6) underscore the inability of man’s understanding.
In Solomon’s exploration of “all that is done under heaven” (1:13), he concluded that man’s unaided attempts to uncover the key to life are wind-chasing (v. 14). The reason is simple: Much of life’s twists cannot be straightened by man’s efforts nor can life’s deficiencies be made up by human activity (v. 15).
Then he concluded that acquiring wisdom—human understanding—is also a wind-chasing futility (vv. 16-17). The reason: Increased knowledge often brings increased sorrow and distress (v. 18).
And that’s where humanism leads us. Life viewed “under the sun”—that is, “down here” on earth apart from God—is a breathless pursuit after air. You can’t catch the wind by your hand. And neither can you figure out life by your own doings and deliberations. Without God, your life is a marathon without meaning, a sprint with no significance.
Dashing after wind? Only in Christ can you find true satisfaction.