3 Benefits & 3 Downfalls to Education

17 So I set out to learn everything… But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind. Ecclesiastes 1:17

Solomon is not discrediting education.  What Solomon is discrediting is man’s attempt to try to REPLACE God with education.

Education is necessary and needed and has many positive benefits.  Real quickly we see from Solomon’s life that…

 Education Can Bring…

 1. Respect

 28   …the people were in awe of the king, for they saw the wisdom God had given him for rendering justice. 1 Kings 3:28

Gaining education often brings respect.  It is easy to respect someone who has extensive knowledge in an area that we don’t.  I generally respect and you probably do as well, Doctors, teachers or anyone who knows their field of expertise well, computer programmers, auto mechanics, architects and so on.  Education will bring us respect.  It can also brin

2. Fame

31 He was wiser than anyone else… His fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. 1 Kings 4:31

Because of his wisdom and knowledge Solomon became very famous.

Education can bring fame.  Who hasn’t heard of Albert Einstein?  Sigmund Freud or Thomas Edison?

3. Wealth

 1 When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame…she came to test him with hard questions. 2 She arrived in Jerusalem with… large quantities of gold, and precious jewels…1 Kings 10:1-2

Education can bring wealth in addition to fame and recognition.   We will see in an upcoming message just how extensive his wealth became.  Under Solomon and his wisdom from God, Israel was at the height of its power and wealth. Solomon’s riches became legendary. Great men and women came from many nations to listen to Israel’s powerful king. Jesus would later refer to “Solomon in all his splendor” (Matthew 6:29)

 Solomon was the wisest man to ever walk the face of this planet until Jesus,  His wisdom paid big benefits.  There were also so unpleasant side effects of having too much emphasis on education.  Through God’s inspiration, Solomon opened the window of his life and gave us a transparent, brutally honest, and sobering look into his pursuit of education.  What do we find?  We find a man whose choice to fill his tank with knowledge and education left him feeling, unhappy, distressed, and exhausted.

Education Can Also Bring…

  1. Grief

 18 The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. Ecclesiastes 1:18a

The literal Hebrew word is “vexation[1]” What does it mean to be “vexed?” Quite simply, vexation means to be provoked into a frame-of-mind that is frustrated, irritated, and angry.  Central to its meaning are the experiences of being provoked and harassed.  Have you ever been provoked?  How about harassed?  How did those experiences leave you felling?  We’re you angry?  Did it leave you feeling unsettled and irritated?  Probably so!  Solomon also says that a faulty focus on education can cause…

2. Sorrow

…To increase knowledge only increases sorrow. Ecclesiastes 1:18b

Solomon says that filling your life with ONLY knowledge and education will increase your “sorrow.”  In essence, the moment scientific and philosophical knowledge become a person’s primary purpose for living, they become increasingly unhappy and distressed.

I began thinking about this a lot this week.  Why would education bring grief and sorrow?  Solomon doesn’t say specifically but as I thought about this here are some things to consider:  I asked Niki why would education bring sorrow?  Here’s what she said, “The more education you have the more debt you have!” Student loans,  financial aid, etc.  That is true, even if you don’t personally then your parents did.  It’s expensive to educate with the taxes we pay, with the tuition, the more education you get the more you have to pay.  How many of you love to read books?  I love to read books and it gets expensive! Niki also brought up the fact that the more you learn the more you realize how much you DON’T know.  So many times what we learn about a subject is only the basics. There are far deeper levels of understanding, and we realize that as we get into it!

I also thought about the biblical fact that the more you know the more you are responsible!  Jesus says,  “to whom much is given much is expected”  (Luke 12:48 paraphrase)  When you know what is right you are responsible to do it and to inform others.  We become accountable for WHAT we know!  What would you call someone who knew the cure to cancer and then failed to share that?  Evil.  We learn and then are burdened with our responsibilities to act on them.  Have you ever said, “I wish I didn’t know that!” “That’s too much information!” “I was really better off NOT to know that!”   Maybe children are happier and laugh more because they know less!

3.  Exhaustion

12 But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out. Ecclesiastes 12:12

Finally, Solomon says that filling your tank with the fuel of knowledge and education will bring on exhaustion. “Much study wears you out.” If you ever pulled an all nighter studying for an exam or writing a paper, you know exactly what he is talking about!  Niki reminded me that James Dobson, child psychologist, author and president of Focus on the Family says that in his opinion, elementary children should not have more than 30 minutes of homework a day.  They are already tired from being at school all day and then they have to do an hour or more of homework?  Its too exhausting for them. So Solomon offers us a transparent window into the heart and soul of an empty man, he warns us that making knowledge and education our primary goal is to invite irritation, distress, and exhaustion into our lives.

Is it any wonder that so many people are unsettled, irritated, exhausted, and despondent over their life?  Since the dawn of the Enlightenment Age and the premium placed on rational learning and reason, people have been encouraged to make the pursuit of knowledge and education a central focus of their lives.  Yet, what has such a focus produced?  Honestly?  Look around and see for yourself.  The results are sobering.  When knowledge and education becomes primary in a person’s life, it has produced nothing but empty tanks.  They’re immobile, lonely and powerless.  Why? Because our lives weren’t created to exist for intellectual pursuits alone. Our lives were meant to be filled with a personal, life transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.

In the next post we will look at how to have meaning beyond education.



[1] (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

About dkoop

Lead Pastor of Upwards Church: Leander & Jarrell, TX
This entry was posted in Meaning(less) - Ecclesiastes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s