As we near the end of Chapter 2 of Ecclesiastes, Solomon has covered the different vanities since the start of this book. He has lamented his frustrations with different walks of life he has experimented with: whether it was living wisely, going all out and indulging in all of his desires, or working day and night and getting rich that way.
This is a great experience we can learn from, because most of us aren’t going to live a life that spans as much as his did. He was a King, so he had the luxury of sampling everything that was out there, and every type of life style there was. Here are his thoughts:
Ecc 2:22 So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety?
Ecc 2:23 Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless.
This is a profound reality, how many times can we look back at something that kept us up at night and wound up our anxieties, and 6 months later, it is just an afterthought. Our minds have moved on to the next big thing to worry and wonder about. Think Y2K, that was supposed to be the 4-horse apocalypse…after that it was Ebola, now it is COVID 19. Solomon says that worrying about these things are meaningless and then moves into his conclusion:
Ecc 2:24 So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.
Solomon says that the pleasures in the simple things of life like eating and drinking (modestly) and the satisfaction that comes from putting in a solid day’s work – those joys that we get from those activities come from God.
Then Solomon Concludes:
Ecc 2:25 For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without God?
Ecc 2:26 For to a person who is good in God’s sight God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner God has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight. This too is vanity and striving after wind.
God has given us the wisdom to enjoy both relaxing and working in this short life. While to the one who is a sinner, the person who is outside of God and who walk in darkness, that sinner also slaves away for riches that ultimately end up in someone else’s hands that God favors, it could be the government, an heir, or some other person or group that God has providentially appointed to receive the fruit of a sinners labor.
Back to the central idea of Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, Solomon summarizes that tall of the ways to walk the world are pointless pursuits. Enjoy the simpler things like eating, drinking and also the pleasure that comes from putting in a hard days work. The fact that we can enjoy those pleasures, big and small, are gifts from God.