A little folly brings great destruction, while a little wisdom can bring great joy and strength. As we continue in chapters 9 and 10 of Ecclesiastes, the Preacher shows how even though the wise and foolish both share the same fate of death, it is much better to live wisely during your days under the sun.
A good name is better than perfume on your day of death… and it’s better to go to a funeral than a birthday party. These are just some of the uplifting nuggets of wisdom the author of Ecclesiastes offers us. What does this mean? And how can we make it to our own funeral with a good name, when the Preacher of Ecclesiastes admits in the same chapter that no one on earth is righteous because we’ve all left God to search “many schemes” to make a name for ourselves?
This week we consider a big chunk of Scripture, looking at Ecclesiastes 5:8-6:9. We learn that we should not be surprised to see injustice and oppression in this life. Ecclesiastes warns us that living for things that only money can buy is vanity. Power and wealth is not enough for a satisfying life that really matters! Ecclesiastes tells us that we must learn to enjoy what God has provided, rejoicing in the life he gives—a life where he is at the center. A life lived with God is a life that is satisfied in God!
Ecclesiastes takes us to our right posture in our most essential relationship—that with God. Through the image of a “fool,” the text helps us see our utter inadequacy before our holy God and encourages a right posture in our approach to his perfection. We learn what a life of worship should look like.
In the chaos, disappointment, and unknowns of the whirlwind of our ever-changing world, the first part of Ecclesiastes ends as we see purpose and peace in God’s plan. Every season of our lives are His; the work of our hands is from Him; His plan endures; and He has put eternity in our hearts. In this knowledge, we have hope, we take pleasure in our lives, and we find God!
The teacher of Ecclesiastes compares different areas of life - wisdom with folly, pleasure with toil - and comes to the same conclusion for each of them. Everything is hevel. What does this word ‘hevel’ mean and why does he say this about everything in life? What are we to do with it then? Does our work matter? Can we find pleasure in life?
Is all of life meaningless? Is all our work just endless toil, sweat and weariness? What do we gain from all we do day in and day out? Have you ever asked these questions? The Preacher of Ecclesiastes did! Faced with the seemingly vanity of life, the Preacher invites us to examine our own existence under the weight of weary work and selfish gain. Is there any hope for us living here “under the sun?”
By being honest about life’s troubles, Ecclesiastes touches the hearts of people who struggle. As much as anything else, Ecclesiastes is for people who have their doubts about God but can’t stop thinking about him. It is a book in which we keep struggling with the problems of life and, as we struggle, we learn to trust God with the questions even when we do not have all the answers. Ecclesiastes powerfully communicates how human life is meaningless without God at the center. Ecclesiastes speaks to a world that is looking for satisfaction in wealth, relationships, vocation and pleasure, and points people to the one and only God who alone gives true satisfaction and joy.