Last week, my husband randomly started talking about Ecclesiastes. He expressed his appreciation of the book and how it was full of wisdom. But I was reading Jeremiah at the time, so I just nodded my head in agreeance to his accolades of the book. I told him i vaguely remembered some of it… mostly the part about there being a time for everything under the sun. And that was that. Nothing more, nothing less.
But then I hopped on YouTube a few days later and the woman I was listening to also mentioned Ecclesiastes. She spoke about how she mediated over its words and let it speak to her. So, at this point, I’d be a few watts short of a light bulb if I didn’t check out Ecclesiastes for myself, now wouldn’t I?
What I found was that Ecclesiastes is a summary of life from the wisest man in the Bible, King Solomon. King Solomon was not only the wisest, but he was also the richest. Yet, he concluded that much of what his wisdom and riches granted him was not all it is cracked up to be. As for wisdom he said the following:
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.
(Ecclesiastes: 1:18, NIV)
Now, ain’t that the truth! The more we know about life, the more depressing it can be. I think back on when I didn’t know about the evil in the world. When I was ignorant of rape, child abuse, sodomy, human trafficking, and such. To be ignorant of evil is to live in bliss.
But when Adam and Even bit the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we were exposed to the darkness of the world. And my Lord, how dark it can be.
But life also offers a plethora of laughter and fun. Being the wealthiest in the world, Solomon certainly enjoyed the pleasures of life. In regards to his riches and pleasure, he said the following:
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 2:10 -11, NIV)
After the money was earned and spent, after he lavished himself in luxury and pleasure, Solomon deemed everything meaningless. Solomon then goes on to say that he hated life because all of the toiling and work would eventually mean nothing. He said whether we are wise or foolish, we all meet the same destiny, which is death. Whether we are rich or poor, we all return to the ground as dusk. So, he wondered why humankind worked so hard. He began to ponder what was the point of it all.
It’s interesting reading Solomon’s thoughts about labor and why people choose to toil because I had the same thoughts while writing my book. This may seem like a slick book advertisement. It honestly isn’t, but think as you may. Yet, the “Why of Good Success” in my book was dedicated to why people want success.
I just couldn’t let the thought go because society can’t seem to let the pursuit of success go. I wanted to understand why people wanted success so badly. Unbeknownst to me, King Solomon wanted to know the same thing thousands of years ago. I won’t give you my conclusion of society’s “why” (you’ll have to pay $8.99 for paperback and $4.99 for eBook for that… okay, now that was undoubtedly a book advertisement 😊)
But I will discuss Solomon’s viewpoint, and his point of view is full of insight. Most people strive for success for money and the comforts it brings. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Solomon says the following about money and enjoying the fruits of one’s labor.
A feast is made for laughter,
wine makes life merry,
and money is the answer for everything.
A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)
So, it’s obvious that the celebration of life is not frowned upon by God. He wishes that we enjoy life and the work of our hands. Yet, it is a gift to actual enjoy the pleasures of life. How many celebrities and wealthy people have wealth and are still unhappy? I heard T.D. Jakes say people assume rich people can buy peace... as if money makes their pain go away. Solomon explains why some wealthy people are not happy.
Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.
You see, it’s the ability to enjoy wealth that matters, not wealth by itself. Everyone that has wealth doesn’t have the gift from God to enjoy their wealth. In fact, Ecclesiastes 6:3-6 says that anyone who has prosperity but does not have the ability to enjoy their prosperity is worse off than a stillborn child.
Honey, if you are asking God to grant you success, enlarge your territory and open financial flood gates, you had better also pray that He grants you the gift to enjoy it! Everyone isn’t so blessed… But even if God grants your request of success and wealth, will you truly be happy? Maybe initially but Solomon goes on to say this.
Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.
The pursuit of success and money tends to never end. Which is why King Solomon conclude that it was all meaningless. Toiling, laboring, and wealth all proved to be pointless to Solomon because in the end, we will all die. And who’s to say that your children or whomever you leave your fortune to won’t squander it all? (Ecclesiastes. 2:18-19)
So, in the end, Solomon concluded on a few things. Primarily that most of life was meaningless. "Meaningless. Meaningless. Meaningless. Chasing after wind", he says. Ugh, the woes of wisdom. But here’s a few other points he makes:
I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
Wisdom is a shelter
as money is a shelter,
but the advantage of knowledge is this:
Wisdom preserves those who have it.
Better one handful with tranquillity
than two handfuls with toil
and chasing after the wind.
I can't lie, reading Ecclesiastes in some respects can make life feel bleak. I mean if you keep reading about the meaninglessness of life and how wisdom causes sorrow, it can be a tad depressing. But it was beautiful to hear him say that we should enjoy life as much as possible and enjoy the fruit of our labor considering the meaninglessness of it all.
Yet, the crème de le crème, the most important point of all, was saved for last. In the end Solomon, the wisest man to ever live concluded as follows:
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
After King Solomon's deep reflection of life and all of its concerns, he concluded that we should fear God and keep His commandments. So, it turns out life isn't meaningless after all. We have a duty to reverence our Creator and keep His commandments. This is the core of life. When we exchange this core for the pursuit of success, wealth, love, etc. we will end up with feelings of meaninglessness.
But when we remember the core, the duty of mankind, we can serve God, be happy, and enjoy the fruits of our labor. So, if you are feeling hopeless in this world with no true purpose, evaluate your core and where you are placing your time, efforts, and energy. Because at the end of the day, at the end of life, if it's not centered around God, it is meaningless.
Have a blessed week you guys, see you next week.
Quin Arrington's debut book "And Then You Shall Have Good Success: Attaining Good Success God's Way" is available on Amazon in paperback and eBook format. Link to book listed below.