Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
Have you ever listened to a shock jock? A disc jockey with outlandish opinions, offensive commentary, and melodramatic exaggerations? I think the author of Ecclesiastes may be part shock jock.
Life is random, he yelps. Meaning is elusive, boys and girls! All ya get outta life is to die!
Perhaps, like me, this author got tired of being told that everything works out for good. Maybe he felt his readers had fallen into mindless optimism. Perhaps he just enjoyed being contrarian.
Whatever the motive, Ecclesiastes emphasizes a tired-of-life philosophy: negative and pessimistic. Seen it all before, he says. Nothing new under the sun.
But the author states another point of view. One that doesn’t jump off the page and slap or shock us. A quieter message, more positive and hopeful. He introduces it with the phrase, “There is nothing better for a person than to do this. . .“, and then he tells us what to do.
If you are studying Ecclesiastes to find the author’s single consistent message you will probably pick those shocking negatives. But not so fast. Don’t miss the affirming positives like this: Eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this fleeting life that God has given you under the sun” (9:7-9).
When my brother was dying of cancer, and his days were fleeting, he and his wife celebrated the small joys of life and they used their best china every day.
That’s the spirit Ecclesiastes encourages. Don’t waste time and energy moaning about life’s unfairness, the lack of progress, or an inability to leave a legacy. The author says, Life is fleeting, but it can be good. Enjoy your work. Dress up occasionally. Celebrate with food and wine. Enjoy your family and friends. Use your best china now and then.
Get a life!
Our father, we envy those who are happier, healthier, wiser, and more successful. We resent the shortness of life, the difficulty of getting ahead, the confusion trying to understand what to do.
Thank you for Ecclesiastes’ advice. For its warning that disappointment follows those who work too hard, study too diligently, and plan too incessantly.
Thank you for the encouragement to be quietly present to the good gifts life gives. To joyful relationships with imperfect people. To work that gives simple contentment. To food and wine that offer brief but satisfying pleasure.
O father, our life is fleeting, its meaning is elusive. Help us in our years under the sun to live wisely and to enjoy the gifts you give.
I’m Daniel, on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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