24 Oct 2013 by Jason Law CM –
The book of Ecclesiastes is probably one of the thorniest books in the Bible. It is a pessimistic book, one that seem to meander on and on about the futility of life. And worse, it seems to contradict essential truths of the Bible. Like the Song of Songs, another prominent book by Solomon, you may sometimes wonder what it’s doing in the Bible in the first place. In fact, Pr Dr Chew Weng Chee of SIBKL recognizes it as one of the last books to be canonized in the Bible. It takes a lot of guts to handle the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Titled ‘Is Life Worth Living?’, Dr Chew’s book is an eye-opening study of what the Book of Ecclesiastes really mean, and by the end of it, your perspectives would have changed about Solomon’s book. Dr Chew guides us to a paradigm shift in our view of Ecclesiastes, and the book is shown to be, in fact, a daring and brutally honest one, asking and expressing outright the toughest questions of life. It takes a deep look at suffering and struggle, and offers an unglamorized view of a life that’s not centered on God. It handles nothing less than the central question; what is the true meaning of life and makes backbreaking attempts to answer that question. It is the equivalent of a weary philosopher-king who used to be, and in some ways, still is the alpha male. It brought to my mind King Lear. After all, it came from the mind of Solomon himself.
Divided into nine chapters and an epilogue, Dr Chew’s book reveals the rich mine of enlightenment and guidance for life that can be extracted out of the book of Ecclesiastes. It takes a systematic approach to the book of Ecclesiastes, beginning with the rationale for the study of the book. It then takes into account Solomon’s background and mind at the time of the writing of the book, asking the thought-provoking question (and the central topic of one of the chapters), of what caused him to write such a book. Solomon was, after all, the most powerful, the richest, and the wisest man who ever lived. Answering this question will shift our views radically about the book of Ecclesiastes, and suddenly, open our eyes to a huge field of spiritual treasure.
Points of Discussion in ‘Is Life Worth Living?’
The next 8 chapters in Dr Chew’s book bring into discussion, though his study of Ecclesiastes, such profound issues as:
1. Time and life as a journey as well as how to make the most of it; some lessons on making the most of our time are:
- Establishing principles
- Defining our purpose, and
- Setting our priorities
2. The responsible enjoyment of life; central lessons/principles are:
- Enjoy life but do not forget about eternity;
- Enjoy life, but revere God; and
- Enjoy life but revere God’s people.
3. The true nature of wisdom; lessons include:
- What is wisdom,
- What wisdom does for us, and
- Steps to wisdom
4. The proper perspective of work; lessons include the:
- Problems of work,
- the Purpose of work, and
- the Privilege of work
5. The fear of the Lord; lessons include:
- the Principles of the fear of the Lord,
- our Response to it, and
- the Blessings of the fear of the Lord
6. The ABC principles of life; the principles are:
- Be attentive to God’s ideas
- Cultivating a beautiful heart
- Occupying ourselves with a higher cause
7. Traveling the higher road, and
8. Our identities in Christ.
Throughout, Dr Chew presents these lessons on the weighty issues of life in a surprisingly simple manner, and each chapter of ‘Is Life Worth Living?’ is prefaced with the relevant passages of Ecclesiastes under discussion. Although it handled a tough subject, this book was one of the richest I have ever read. Dr Chew has a gift for language and in his deft hands, Ecclesiastes takes on an almost mythic quality, a book about a tragic king, but one with a poignant and profound quality to it. Far from being just a gloomy dissertation about the pointlessness of life, Ecclesiastes emerges with tough lessons about God’s abiding direction and purpose for His people, and the confidence and hope we have through our identities in Him. Dr. Chew’s book gives a compelling answer to its central question.
Dr Chew Weng Chee is the senior pastor of SIBKL, a fast-growing church in Kuala Lumpur with over 2,500 members.
Information About Book:
Title: ‘Is Life Worth Living?’
Author: Dr Chew Weng Chee
Contact: SIBKL (sibkl.org.my)
Printer: Akitiara Corporation Sdn Bhd
1 & 3, Jalan TPP 1/3
Taman Industri Puchong
Batu 12, 47100 Puchong
Selangor D.E., Malaysia
References for pictures: