I love books.
My shelves are filled with them.
And I purchase new books quite frequently from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Yet at the same time, I realize books can become a burden.
You may have the feeling (like me) that you’ll never have time to get through them all. Or you may have the feeling (like me) that for all your reading, your place in life has not been improved as much as you thought it would be.
The acquisition of knowledge without application can suck the life out of you.
But the application of knowledge without achieving the expected results may be equally discouraging.
According to the Bible and other historical records, King Solomon was the wisest and richest man who ever lived. He also wrote the most depressing book in the Bible. It’s called Ecclesiastes.
The book begins with Solomon declaring, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” Some translations render this as, “Meaningless, meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
After 12 chapters of wise but rather disheartening observations, Solomon concludes with this:
The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd.
But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.
For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
I find it interesting that Solomon concludes with a warning about excessive devotion to books and an admonition to keep God’s commandments.
It is natural to think that reading more books will make you smarter, wiser, richer. And in some cases they will.
But perhaps the secret is in meditating on “the words of wise men” that are “given by one Shepherd” — and heeding God’s commandments.
Some food for thought.
-Ryan M. Healy