Here is a selection from the book: “A Practical Study of Ecclesiastes: The Mid-Life Crisis by Don Anderson”.
I’ve taken one chapter to give you an idea about the book. This book may be obtained via the market place. I’ve placed links below to review and purchase if you want more. I have highlighted/underlined parts to make it easy to read if you can only skim through this page. (Note: It is NOT my personal recommendation, you must read and study the site to see if you want to invest more time or even $s in this publication.) However, I do think it pertains ideas about a time period in many men’s life as they hit their 40s.
Don Anderson’s writes in a very realistic verbiage of today’s views. In this book using Ecclesiastes he vividly presents Solomon as a man in the throes of a mid-life crisis. Not just an analysis of the various problems that confront a man in the middle of one’s life span, but the book provides biblical answers to the trauma that many are experiencing in today’s world.
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A Man in Crisis
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon is the “Teacher” who writes the book when he is in the midst of all of the things that are breaking in upon him in mid-life. His story is the tale of a man who is experiencing the sheer futility of trying to find significance in life. As I see it, he is conducting a desperate search for truth.
Most scholars disagree, noting that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes as a bitter, angry, defeated old man. The book has been considered the utter embodiment of pessimism. It has been seen as the confused, perplexing ramblings of an elderly king with an affliction like Alzheimer’s disease who had forgotten everything he once knew about godliness and contentment. But Ecclesiastes is not a book of mere nonsense. It is not just a collection of disconnected verses thrown together. Rather, it is the story of a man facing a crisis of immense proportions.
Exactly who was this man? Before we talk about his persona, trauma, let’s take a brief look at Solomon and a quick glance at part of the history of his nation, Israel.
Around 930 b.c. the kingdom of Israel divided in two, splitting into Judah in the south and Israel in the north. Before that division, the country had been governed by three kings. The first of these was Saul.
You see, it seems the Israelites had experienced a little identity crisis somewhere along the way. They began comparing themselves to other nations and decided something was missing at the Hebrew “White House”: a king.They said to the prophet of that time, “Samuel, we want to be like everybody else. We want a king.” And so a man with the physique of an NBA power forward and the looks of a movie star was anointed and installed as the new monarch. He was tall and handsome, towering “head and shoulders” above everyone else, and his name was Saul. He was by no means a fit choice, and he ended up a suicide victim on the field of battle against the Philistines. (See 1 Samuel 8–31.)
God then took David, a man after His own heart, and enthroned him. David took the kingdom militarily and materially and expanded it to its greatest point. He was, after all, God’s man. Following David’s death at age seventy, his eldest living son by Bathsheba, Solomon, took the reins of power. Solomon was not much more than a boy—around eighteen years old—at the time he assumed the throne. The kingdom was at its wealthiest and largest. Solomon was to become the richest man on earth in his day, amassing all the fame, money, power, and women that he could ever desire. He had it all, and it’s at this pinnacle of worldly success that we find him as the book of Ecclesiastes opens.
Solomon was a man with supernatural wisdom, yet he was also a man who could make some foolish mistakes. He left behind a written record in three volumes. Although his father, David, was a gifted musician and poet, Solomon was primarily an author—his reckonings and recollections appear in his works: Song of Solomon, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. And now, with this brief background, let me explain some reasons why I think he was undergoing a crisis at mid-life when he penned the book we’re about to study.
J. Vernon McGee points out that there are three key words and phrases which stand out from the text of Ecclesiastes. The first of these is the word “vanity,” also translated as “meaningless,” which appears thirty-seven times. The second is the phrase, “under the sun,” which makes its appearance twenty-nine times. The last phrase of special significance is “I said in my heart,” or “I thought in my heart,” and Solomon uses those words with great frequency also (McGee 1977, 10).
“Meaningless … under the sun … I said in my heart”—those are the buzz words of a man in crisis. When Solomon says them, he reveals that he is in real trouble. It’s as if he is saying, “It’s meaningless, all this stuff I’m doing! It’s under the sun—it doesn’t count for anything lasting and eternal.” And when he exclaims, “I said in my heart,” we sense that he has conjured up moments of wisdom concerning what he thinks ought to be done in a situation. He isn’t looking for insights from God; he’s merely trying to wing it on his own. He is set on doing things his way, and in his “creativity” he forgets the Creator.
At mid-life Solomon becomes afraid that he’s going to miss out on something in life if he sits idly by. To his was of thinking, he’s running out of time. The focus of his energy is on finding answers to questions that confound him, and yet his chosen frame of reference prevents him from looking to God for the solutions.
Remember when I said in chapter one that men facing crises in mid-life begin to perceive life differently than before? I also mentioned that in Ecclesiastes, Solomon is in that boat. His outlook has changed, particularly in three specific areas. For one thing, like other men in crisis, Solomon has started to view life selfishly rather than socially. He has forgotten about the kingdom and has begun thinking only of himself. To him, everything else is “meaningless,” as he so often tells us.
Number two, Solomon sees life as apart from God rather than controlled by Him. He doesn’t allow the Lord to direct his path. Instead, he views life as independent of the need for divine direction. Rather than hearing him ask God for guidance, we repeatedly hear him utter the words, “I said in my heart” throughout the book of Ecclesiastes. Get it? It’s “I said in my heart” that Solomon continually mouths; it’s never anything like: “God spoke to me and revealed His will.”
And third, Solomon sees the grave as the end: everything is “under the sun.” There is nothing above … no heaven, no eternal judgment or justice … nothing. He is hung up on life here and now. His lack of hope makes him miserable, too. /as the apostle Paul warns us in 1 Corinthians 15:19: “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to pitied more than all men.”
So in Ecclesiastes Solomon is a man who is searching. And he shines the searchlight from out of the hole of his own prejudice and depression. He tries to find genuine meaning and purpose as he undergoes the period of self-doubt and questioning that tends to confront us all at mid-life.
And what does a man do when he tries to find direction and purpose in his life? He usually tries many different things, doesn’t he? In middlescence, time seems to be slipping away, so he starts doing a lot of testing, and in Ecclesiastes we see Solomon making a number or experiments. He searches for meaning through religion; he tries women, wine, and materialism; he hunts for an answer through wisdom, and morality, and many other vehicles. He desperately wants to discover the solution to the trauma he is facing so that he can tackle the last half of life. He’s got some decisions to make.
He’s in the same position the Tom Landry sometimes finds himself in. Actually, the example I’m about to give could apply to any football coach; I just happen to be a Dallas Cowboys fan. When the Cowboys go into a ball game, they have a game plan for the particular team they’re playing. Let’s says that it is half-time and the score is 21–0 in favor of the other team. Landry has a choice. He’s got to either stay with the game plan (with perhaps a few minor adjustments) or scrap it, sketch a new one, and go for broke.
That’s exactly what can happen to a man in mid-life. He may feel as though he’s been nailed to the wall—it’s 21 to nothing—and he, like Solomon, has got a decision to make about his life. Just what is that momentous decision? Our fellow can either scrap the game plan or stay with it, hang in there, and watch it eventually produce because he believes in what he’s ultimately doing and where he’s ultimately going. The choice is there. And we’re going to watch as Solomon tries frantically to scrap the original game plan of his life.
Foundations of Sand
Just why Solomon’s mid-life difficulties have expanded into a full-blown crisis is easy to understand, too. James Dobson, in his book Straight Talk to Men and Their Wives, puts it so well when he describes the kind of man I think Solomon has become at the time he writes Ecclesiastes. Says Dobson:
I feel the need to stress what I consider to be the fundamental cause of a mid-life crisis. It results from what the Bible refers to as “building your house upon the sand.” It is possible to be a follower of Jesus Christ and accept His forgiveness from Sin, yet still be deeply influenced by the values and attitudes of one’s surrounding culture. Thus, a young Christian husband and father may become a workaholic, a hoarder of money, a status-seeker, a worshiper of youth, and a lover of pleasure. These tendencies may not reflect his conscious choices and desires; they merely represent that stamp of society’s godless values on his life and times.
Despite his unchristian attitudes, the man may appear to “have it all together” in his first fifteen years as an adult, especially is he is successful in early business pursuits. But he is in considerable danger. Whenever we build our lives on values and principles that contradict the time-honored wisdom of God’s Word, we are laying a foundation on the sand. Sooner or later, the storms will howl and the structure we have laboriously constructed will collapse with a mighty crash(Dobson 1980, 180–181).
That’s where Solomon is—he’s built his house on the sand and at mid-life he discovers that he is waist-deep in the grit.He has to dig his way out, and we’re going to witness his scramble to escape.
Eggs in the Wrong Basket
I recall an article published a few years ago in the Dallas Insider, a seminary newspaper. It was shortly after President Carter had announced the United States boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics that were held in Moscow. Two American athletes, Jeff Wells and John Lodgwick, were interviewed.
Jeff and John were good friends. Both Christians, they had attended Dallas Theological Seminary together and had gone to the Northwest following graduation. Olympic hopefuls, they’d been in training for years in anticipation of being able to compete for the gold in the marathon. When carter announced the boycott, their Olympic aspirations were immediately crushed.
But they weren’t bitter. In fact, Jeff and John were among the few athletes to officially support the President’s decision. Sure, they were disappointed as their years of commitment and training suddenly appeared to have been for nothing. I’m sure they had questions about the fairness of it all. Yet they didn’t complain. In fact, John commented during the interview that Jeff and he had recognized the futility of putting all of their “eggs” in a basket that could not last.
If we go through a severe, shattering, mid-life crisis, it may be because we have done just that. We have put all of our eggs in a basket that is doomed to deteriorate. Our overcommitted lifestyle, misplace values, neglect of God, and lack of knowledge about His ways finally catch up with us, as we are tested for unworthy goals. As Dobson write in Straight Talk to Men and Their Wives:
Stated succinctly, a mid-life crisis is more likely to be severe for those whose values reflect the temporal perspective of this world. A man does not mourn the loss of his youth, for example, if he honestly believes that his life is merely a preparation for a better one to follow. And God does not become the enemy of a man who has walked and talked with Him in daily communion and love. And the relationship between a man and his wife is less strained in the mid-life years if they have protected and maintained their friendship since they were newlyweds. In short, a mid-life crisis represents a day of reckoning for a lifetime of wrong values, unworthy goals, and ungodly attitudes(Dobson 1980, 181).
It was Fred Allen who said, “We sow our wild oats, and then we pray for a crop failure.” How true that is! The apostle Pail cautions in Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” As we search for significance, we may well sow some seeds which harvested will spell trouble for us and for those we love. We may do permanent damage to relationships which are already tender. That’s why I believe that in the book of Ecclesiastes God provides is with a biblical example of a man in the throes of a crisis at mid-life. Through the practical application of His Word, it is possible to avoid making those mistakes which destroy lives.
Friends, the chickens will come home to roost, whether we like it or not. It’s time now to examine ourselves, to test ourselves for errant values and wrong goals. We’ll observe as Solomon does just that in Ecclesiastes. And let’s remember that despite our mistakes, God is faithful to freely forgive and to help us forge ahead in His will. It is never too late.
FYI: The start of chapter 1:
The Mid-Life Crisis
Once a person reaches his forties and fifties, he finds himself the brunt of countless jokes. The middle years have provided many a would-be comedian with ammunition for his barbs. We’ve all heard them.
One such fellow has called middle age that perplexing time of life when we hear two voices calling us. One says, “Why not?” And the other tells us, “Why bother?” I love what Ogden Nash had to say about the mid-years. According to Nash, middle age is “when you’re sitting at home on Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it isn’t for you.” Yet another comic has added his two cents’ worth of humor on the subject: “Middle age is when you try to use everything Mother Nature gave you before God takes it away.”
While we fervently hope the last statement isn’t true, the fact is that the approach of middle age sets off a panic signal in many people. Middlescence is a time of questioning, reevaluation, and reexamination. Sometimes the middle-ager feels exactly like Aliterus, a character in The Tenth Measure, Brenda Lesley Segal’s novel about Masada. Aliterus is a Roman actor who, when he arrives in Jerusalem for the first time, makes a statement which I think aptly describes the attitude of more than a few middle-aged individuals. He says:
I have come here … like one aspiring to an audition, an actor in search of a role. Meanwhile, the playwright has vanished. God of Josephus and of my own mother as well, You had better provide me with a stage direction mow, or cue me, if You please. The fact is, I have lost my place in this script or wandered foolishly into the wrong theater (Segal 1980, 276).
That’s really not too different from how a middle-aged man may often feel. It sometimes seems that he has lost his place in life’s script as he begins to question the goals he once pursued with cocksureness, clarity, and drive. He wonders, “Why am I here? What am I doing? Is there any true meaning or purpose to life? Does what I’m doing really count for anything?” Lie Aliterus, he may feel he has blindly strolled into the wrong theater.
You’ll notice I’ve used the pronoun “he” quite a bit. I do not mean to imply that women never experience mid-life trauma. On the contrary, they do, although as one wife I know puts it: “My life is a lot like a hamster habit trail. I’m busier than the dickens, but I just keep covering the same ground. Running up this tube, now that one: make the beds, bake the cookies, wash the clothes, clean the house, buy the groceries, drive the carpool, call the plumber, fix the lunches, bathe the kids.” She says, “Mothers don’t have time to have a mid-life crisis!” And she meant it!
I can’t comment on that, but let me in the next few pages describe some things that I have learned about women in mid-life. This information has been gleaned from various sources, particularly Jim Conway’s book Men in Mid-Life Crisis.
Chapter 1 Continues….
DON ANDERSON is a popular guest speaker at churches, para-church organizations, conferences, and retreats. His refreshing style and unique insights, captured on tape and published in his many books, effectively communicate timeless truths from Scripture and their application to everyday life.
Don received a bachelor of arts from Northwestern College and a masters of theology fromDallas Theological Seminary. In June 1990, he earned a doctorate of ministry in marriage and family counseling from Talbot School of Theology in Southern California.
Don has been involved in Christian ministry for more than 45 years, serving as a Young Life staff member, youth pastor, and program director at The Firs Bible & Missionary Conference in Bellingham, WA. He was also the founding executive director of Pine Cove Christian Conference Center and pastor of two community churches in East Texas. Don has recently resumed a leadership role at Hide-A-Way Lake Church. His passion for Bible teaching led him, over 30 years ago, to create Don Anderson Ministries. In 2004, the organization’s name was changed to Bible Teaching Resources. Its headquarters remain in Tyler, TX. Bible Teaching Resources is committed to providing tools for the body of Christ to teach God’s Word.
Don and his wife, Pearl, are proud of their five children and enjoy their ten grandchildren.
 Anderson, D. (2013). A Practical Study of Ecclesiastes: The Mid-Life Crisis (pp. 17–22). Don Anderson.