nothing new under the sun

everything is a repetition of what has come before
—Teenagers think their clothing styles are unique and original, but they remind me of what we had when we were kids. It just goes to show you, there’s nothing new under the sun.

Though the author of Ecclesiastes doesn’t give his name, he calls himself a preacher, son of David, and king of Israel, and most believe that the book was written by Solomon. The main topic of Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s quest for meaning in life, which, he writes, often seems pointless and full of repetition:

All this monotony is tiresome; no one can bear to describe it:
The eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear ever content with hearing.
What exists now is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing truly new on earth [there is no new thing under the sun—KJV]. (Ecclesiastes 1:8,9)

He finds that life is full of highs and lows, with each happening at its proper time. This idea that there is a right time for specific activities is found in today’s phrases for everything there is a season and everything has a season. They come from a poetic passage, written by Solomon, which begins,

For everything there is an appointed time [To every thing there is a season—KJV],
and an appropriate time for every activity on earth:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4)

And later, Solomon observes that there is no guarantee that the most qualified people will have success:

the race is not always won by the swiftest [the race is not to the swift—KJV],
the battle is not always won by the strongest;
prosperity does not always belong to those who are the wisest,
wealth does not always belong to those who are the most discerning,
nor does success always come to those with the most knowledge—
for time and chance may overcome them all. (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

From this we get the race is not always to the swift, which today usually means “you don’t have to be the most skilled to succeed, so don’t give up.”

In the end, Solomon decides that following God is the thing that brings meaning to life:

Having heard everything, I have reached this conclusion:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
because this is the whole duty of man.
For God will evaluate every deed,
including every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13,14)

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