When I lived in Simi Valley, California, I observed something I called the Valley Mindset. When you’re living in a town, surrounded by mountains and visually cut off from the rest of the world, it does something to you. Suddenly everything feels like a big deal. Personal drama feels incredibly important. Nothing else is going on in the world, right? During the years I lived there, I made it a habit to spend a few weekends a month out of town, with friends in LA or Santa Barbara. For the record, that wasn’t enough. Southern California culture believes it’s the center of the universe, too. I found the same was true for the Armenians I met living in the mountainous town of Vanadzor. Everything was a huge deal. Drama was for real and the world was over if someone’s boyfriend dumped them.
If you’ve ever sat at a window seat on a plane, you might have felt the opposite. As you escalate into the sky, suddenly all the problems down there become ant size, and now you’re just a person in a metal flying can. Ecclesiastes gives us that 30,000 foot vantage point.
“There is nothing new under the sun.”
It is most commonly understood that this book was written by King Solomon. To recap his life: he was David’s son, whom God appointed to be king after him. God said He would give Solomon anything he wanted and Solomon asked for wisdom. This pleased the LORD so, He gave Solomon everything else too and made him one of the wealthiest kings in history. The beginning of his life was wildly successful and he became famous. Fame, fortune, success. He had it all and then eventually also had women. Too many women. 700 wives, 300 concubines. They swayed him from his dedication to the LORD and became his downfall. At the end of his life, Ecclesiastes is his reflection on life and being wise. He has some authority on the topic. He may have lived the fullest life ever.
As he starts in to the futility of wisdom, pleasure, possessions and work, what sticks out to you? What is something that feels like a big deal in your life, that seems smaller from their point of view?