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searching person June 7 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 1Kings 11:1-40; Ecclesiastes 1, 2

Searching for Meaning; Depression—Some Causes and Cures

We search for meaning in this life. Where can it be found? In the next few Bible studies we will be discovering answers to this problem. When we can't see meaning, it is depressing. This is our subject for today.

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 accomplish mean a great deal to them. Women, however, are more relationship focused—their 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 this way. Depression can be light or severe and caused by a variety and mixture of factors (even medical). How do we deal with depression? Get quiet? Become irritable? Drink alcoholic beverages? Cry? 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 written by King Solomon near the end of his life. Even though he has riches, wisdom, and accomplishments far greater than any in his day, he is depressed. Like many in his condition he has negative reflections on life. However, even in the darkness of his depression he retains his wisdom—Solomon refocuses our attention on what is really important. We can take it from someone who knows.

As we saw in our June 4 Bible study, King Solomon was at the height of his glory as the leader of all Israel. He was wise above 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 a great many wives and a large harem. One of the wives 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 Bible 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 lived a life of pleasure and 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). His wives influenced him to build altars to false gods and worship them, in addition to his worship of the LORD, the only true God (1Kings 11:1-13).

Now the party is over. Because King Solomon does not keep the covenant completely, God declares that he will tear Solomon's kingdom away from him and only leave him one major tribe (Judah) for his sons to rule. Almost all that he has built and worked for will be taken away. Furthermore, God will now work against him and raise up adversaries against Israel. Have we done stupid things which left undesirable results, leaving us feeling depressed? Sin has consequences. The answer to sin is repentance (changing our mind and confessing our sin to receive forgiveness).

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

Solomon views all of life as a profitless, 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 own knowledge of life. Solomon has an earthly perspective; however, it is not God's perspective. Solomon is looking at everything from a humanistic viewpoint. How do we look at life? Are we taken in by humanistic opinions of our world or do we try to see life as God sees it? Where do we find his perspective? A Jewish Bible hymn composer writes, “The unfolding of [God's] words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130, 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 (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, 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. (more...)
  • 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 which leads to a change of actions. 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). The LORD has rewards in heaven for those who are faithful to him.
  • Note: Daily prayer and putting up Bible verses and other reminders of God's faithfulness may help you overcome depression.

    For answers to severe cases of depression, I recommend the book, Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness by Edward T. Welch, New Growth Press, Greensboro, NC, ©2011

    Focus on the Family has free referrals and one free consultation with a counselor to help you or others who are dealing with depression.

    See your doctor. He may prescribe some helpful medications to alleviate some of the symptoms of depression.

    Whatever you do, get the help you need now! God loves you, your family and friends love you, and you are important!

Focus Verse

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

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

Please send your comments to mtbiblestudies@gmail.com

A Look Ahead: We all seek for meaning in life. We all have twenty-four hours in a day. How can we have Spend our Time Well? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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