The Vanity of Life

What is life like?

Solomon, in his Book of Wisdom (5:10-14), has tried to explain life in terms of what we commonly observe in the air and sea:

Life is like a ship that sails through the billowy water, and when it has passed no trace can be found, no track of its keel in the waves…

It is like a bird that flies through the air, no evidence of its passage is found; the light air, lashed by the beat of its pinions and pierced by the force of its rushing flight, is traversed by the movement of its wings, and afterward no sign of its coming is found there…

Or, life may be like an arrow that is shot at a target, the air, thus divided, comes together at once, so that no one knows its pathway…

It is like a thistledown carried by the wind, or like a light frost driven away by a storm, like smoke dispersed before the wind…

Solomon compares life to a rumour that passes by. Life passes like the remembrance of a guest who stays but a day…

He summarises the vanity of life saying that as soon as we are born, we cease to be…

But that is not all. Solomon adds this optimistic note to a seemingly hopeless situation: But the righteous live forever, and their reward is with the Lord. (5:15)


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