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man's face fallen in a cake June 7 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 1Kings 11:1-40; Ecclesiastes 1, 2

Depression - some causes and cures

When we experience good times we are on an emotional high. What do we do when the party is over? Do we feel depressed? Generally speaking men are achievement focused. Their jobs and what they can accomplish mean a great deal to them. Women, however, are more relationship focused; family and friend relationships are most important. When achievement or relationship needs are not met, both men and women can become depressed. At one time or another nearly everyone feels depressed. This can be caused by a variety and mixture of factors (even medical). How do we deal with depression? Get quiet? Get irritable? Drink alcoholic beverages? Sleep a lot? Eat comfort food like cake, ice cream or donuts? What do we do when the party is over?

The book of Ecclesiastes is a very depressing book written by King Solomon probably near the end of his life, but it is also a book of wisdom. Even in the darkness of depression Solomon leaves us with some hope to help lift us out of it.

In our June 4 Bible study we saw that King Solomon was at the height of his glory as the leader of all Israel. He was wise beyond all others; he had many servants and wealth beyond what could be counted; he had completed huge building projects, including the temple and his own palace; he had peace and stability in his country, and he had a vast army with large numbers of chariots and horses. He also had many many wives and a large harem. One of the wives that he was particularly fond of was a Lebanese woman, referred to in yesterday's lesson in the Song of Solomon. She was probably one of the 700 wives mentioned in today's reading (a Sidonian).

What happened to King Solomon? What caused the downfall of his kingdom? Solomon got proud, over confident, and sloppy in leading the nation. He violated the LORD's commands regarding the kingship. Against God's will, Solomon accumulated large supplies of wealth, horses imported from Egypt, and many foreign wives (Deuteronomy 17:16-17; 1 Kings 10:26-29). Furthermore, Solomon's wives influenced him to build altars to false gods and worship them, in addition to the true God (1Kings 11:1-13). Now the party was over; because he did not keep the covenant completely, God said he would tear his kingdom away from him and only leave him one major tribe (Judah) for his sons to rule. Almost all that he had built and all that he had worked for would be taken away. Furthermore, God would now work against him and raise up adversaries against Israel. Have we done stupid things that left undesirable results, leaving us feeling depressed? Sin has consequences. The answer to sin is repentance.

Solomon was now bored with life; there is “nothing new under the sun,” he said. Even the cycle of nature was boring to him. There was nothing to be accomplished which has not been accomplished already in one form or another. He saw no worthwhile challenges, and the challenge of obtaining more wisdom seemed like a worthless pursuit.

Solomon viewed all of life as a meaningless, purposeless existence (Ecclesiastes 1:1-2).

Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:11, NIV)

Three words describe Solomon's perspective on life: “Under the sun.” This phrase occurs twenty-nine times in Ecclesiastes. The phrase “I thought in my heart” or “I thought to myself” occurs seven times and shows the limits of his research, i.e., Solomon's empirical knowledge of life. Solomon had an earthly perspective, however; it was not God's perspective. Solomon was looking at everything from a humanistic perspective. How do we look at life? Are we taken in by humanistic perspectives of our world or do we try to see life as our transcendent God sees it? Where do we find his perspective? Psalm 119:130 says, “The unfolding of your [God's] words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple,” (NIV). We find God's perspective in the Bible.

Is there any light of hope in Solomon's philosophy (Ecclesiastes)? Yes, and we can learn from it. After he despairs over the prospect of toiling hard to accomplish things in this life and then handing them to someone else who will not care for them (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19 is a possible reference to his son, Rehoboam), Solomon makes this statement:

A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?

To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness [this gives us hope before Solomon returns to his depression], but to the sinner [perhaps a reference to himself] he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 2:24- 26, NIV)

Do we have a personal relationship with God? It is only by this relationship that we can find true satisfaction, enjoyment, and his blessings. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have [it] abundantly,” (John 10:10b, NASB). (more...)

Lessons to live by:

  • Not all forms of depression are the result of our circumstances but many are. Other forms of depression are relational, medical or physiological.
  • Depression may come when we have a perception of unmet needs or expectations. If this is the fault of our own poor choices, then we need to have a genuine change of heart that leads to a change of actions. In other words we need to repent. God will forgive those who truly repent (more...)
  • Depression may also come when we have a humanistic, earthly perspective on life. We need to read God's Word, the Bible, to see His perspective.
  • It is God who gives joy to the soul as we seek to please him. It is He who enables us to have joy in our accomplishments. And, contrary to what Solomon says, "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them," (Hebrews 6:10, NIV), and God has rewards in heaven for those who are faithful to him.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have [it] abundantly,” (John 10:10b, NASB).

praying girl Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

Please send your comments to mtbiblestudies@gmail.com

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