LINK: Ecclesiastes 9 & 10
A key repeated phrase in Ecclesiastes 9 and 10 is "no man knows" (9:1, 12; 10:14). Man cannot predict what will happen to him in the end and whether his toil will fail or succeed. We do know that we all share a "common destiny" (NIV) and that is death. The fact is that none of us get out of here alive! After making this conclusion, Solomon continues with his recurring theme of living life! Death is coming, but God has given us good gifts to enjoy so let's enjoy them! With all this, Solomon warned that life can sometimes be unpredictable, and we must yield to God's loving hand of Providence and walk in wisdom rather than folly.
In Ecclesiastes 10 and 11, Solomon concluded his discourse with a practical application.
REFLECTION (Written in 2009)
Ecclesiastes has been all about the quest for meaning in life. Many search for it.
This week, I completed Walden by the famous transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau. He went to Walden Pond in Massachusetts for two years, two months, and two days in order to contemplate the meaning of life and observe nature. He observed that "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." I agree with Thoreau's observation while I do not necessarily agree with some of his conclusions about how to "live life."
I also read the play No Exit by French playwright and existentialist, Jean Paul Sartre. He sets a man in a locked hotel room with two other women and "no exit." They are bound for eternity in that room bringing each other sorrow and grief as each takes turns at manipulating and taking control of one another. The main character cries, "Hell is -- other people!"
Solomon, Thoreau, and Sartre all grappled with the question,"Is life worth living?" There was a dark time in 1987 where I, too, grappled with this question. I was a believer in Jesus who was despairing of life after a series of events that left me overwhelmed, tired, and feeling very much alone. On the outside, life was good; I had just graduated with a master's degree and was working in a good job in my career field. Maybe the achievement of some worldly goals made me see the emptiness I still felt within. I remember a great wrestling match with God in my bedroom on Emerald Street in Eugene. God won. He drew me to His presence in a very powerful way. Sometimes, even as long-time believers, we can get knocked off course.
After investigating "life under the sun," Solomon concluded that life was not worth living! He cited the monotony of life, the vanity of wisdom, the futility of wealth, and the certainty of death as arguments to support his conclusion. Yes, it was not worth living apart from knowing that what we are doing is part of God's purpose for our lives.
We will talk about Solomon's practical application tomorrow when we conclude our reading of Ecclesiastes.
Lord, thank You that Jesus is the answer to our desperate condition. Thank You that Jesus came that we might have an abundant and full life (John 10:10). We want You to be the center of everything we do. We want Your purposes for our lives. Teach us Your way. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.