All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again.
To underscore the futility of life, Solomon talked about the endless cycles of nature. He said in Ecclesiastes 1:5, “Also, the sun rises and the sun sets, and hastening to its place it rises there again.” Solomon was simply saying that time passes by very quickly.
Then he talked about the wind in verse 6: “Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns.” Do you know people who are absolutely fascinated by watching the weather? I bet you could take a recording of the Weather Channel from twenty years ago and play it now, and it would be like you were watching today’s weather. Because basic weather patterns do not change–the wind blows from the north to the south and back again. It is the same pattern over and over.
Finally, Solomon used the illustration of the water cycle to talk about the futility of life. He said in verse 7, “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again.” Many people think Solomon was envisioning the Dead Sea. Nothing flows out of the Dead Sea, yet even though the Jordan River continually flows into the Dead Sea, it is never quite full. Why is that? Evaporation. The water evaporates, and then it rains and fills up the sea. Then it evaporates again, and on and on.
The whole futility of life is seen here. It is running, but never quite arriving, pouring in but never quite filling. Life under the sun is meaningless. Poet John Edward Everett summarized it well: “Over and over the waters run; nothing is new under the sun. Over and over, ages through, thought is rehearsed, for nothing is new.”
Now, if that sounds depressing, I have some good news for you: there is a day coming when everything will be brand-new–when the sun will not rise and set any longer, and water will not flow endlessly into the sea. In Revelation 21:1, the apostle John described the new heaven and earth where every believer will dwell: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . . and there is no longer any sea.” And Revelation 22:5-6 says, “There will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them.” That is the future that awaits everybody who trusts in Jesus Christ as Savior.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Too Much Pain, Too Little Gain” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
John Edward Everett, “Nothing Is New,” in “Quillings in Verse” (Smith Center, KS: printed by the author, 1912), https://kotn.org/poetry/everett/notnew.html.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.