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Solomon and James: Vanity and Vapor

The epistle of James matches so well with Solomon’s book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon brought people from all over the world and spoke to them in language comprehensible outside of Israel. He argued for true and saving faith in the Lord. Everywhere and all under the sun is vanity, including Sheba, Tarshish, Canaan, Egypt, and the Chaldees.

Vexation of spirit characterizes mankind falling short of the glory of God. Whatever he earns and tries to keep, he loses it in the end. “Vanity,” a term all over Ecclesiastes, doesn’t mean exactly worthless, but temporal, the Hebrew word speaking of wind here and then gone. James writes (4:14), “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

Solomon gets across the point that life on earth must mean something greater than life itself. Unless something under the sun attaches to that above the sun, relating the temporal to the eternal, then it is vanity. James alludes to Solomon’s point when talking about the ambitions and activities of life. From the least to the greatest and the menial to the most ambitious, only if the Lord wills we will do this or that. He describes what living, saving faith looks like.

God gives time, energy, and opportunity. True faith, not the dead or demon faith (James 2:17, 19), associates the Lord with everything He sees, thinks, plans, and does. One of living faith doesn’t presume on the provision, grace, and mercy of God. If the Lord wills, He will do this or that (James 4:15).

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