My first impression many years ago of the book of Ecclesiastes was that it was such a sad, negative, depressing book. It starts with these words, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.”
It appears as if Solomon had tried everything and found all that he knew and did to be in vain. And to some extent this is true.
Then, I decided recently to study this book and found it quite beautiful.
I read over and over the verses. I highlighted words, phrases and verses that stood out to me. I looked up the deeper meaning of several of these words. Then I imagined a scenario that brought it all together.
I imagined Solomon walking with his son knowing he wanted to teach him an important lesson. Solomon had put to pen several of the proverbs filled with wise instructions for his children and for us. God used the wisdom of Solomon to teach us many things.
I envisioned this walk up a hill on a beautiful, very windy day. As they reached the peak of the hill Solomon invited his son to sit with him. They were looking at the city Jerusalem below.
Solomon began his instructive dialogue with his son by pointing out and comparing life to the wind blowing about them.
My son, do you see all before you? Do you see the result of all the years of hard work and accomplishments your father has done?
All of this, all of this my son is fleeting. Just like this wind blowing about you. All in life is so brief.
You know I’ve tried it all. God gifted me with wisdom above all and I pursued wisdom. I pursued knowing all there is to know about life, love, work and faith.
I’ve worked hard all my life. Whatever I imagined I did. I’ve created great kingdoms and have amassed great wealth. Yet all this all I’ve done is as fleeting as this wind blowing about us.
I became frustrated with life and with God. There seemed to be no justice in life. The same thing happens to all. We all live, work, love and die. The ending is the same for all and there’s a lot of pain, injustice and strife in this world. It all seems so meaningless.
I then tried to fill my life and heart with all manner of pleasure I could find. I held nothing back from myself. Still, with all that I found no true long-lasting pleasure in anything.
I saw the contrast of all things. There’s a time for everything. A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant and a time to reap, a time to go to war and a time to heal, I saw it all.
Then I saw that there are no preferences in God. All things good and bad happen to the rich as well as to the poor.
I wondered why and what is the use of this life – it is better to die or to have never lived.
Then God opened my eyes.
All that God does is beautiful and there is a time for everything.
There is good in life. It is good to work hard and to enjoy the fruits of your labor. This is a gift from God for all.
There’s nothing new under the sun my son. What has been will be.
Since there’s nothing new and all are gifted with the same ability to enjoy the fruits of their labor, how then shall we live?
There are things that are better in this life, my son. The end of life is better than the beginning. God has placed in our hearts the yearning for eternal life. This life is a gift from Him to those who believe.
It is better to work hard and to enjoy your life and your family. Companionship in life is better, you are stronger and more capable as a result of it. These are God’s gift and reward to you.
It is better to be content in your spirit and to act wisely in all you do. Wisdom excels it all.
It is better to act wisely when you enter the house of God. Listen, observe and learn my son. Don’t be too hasty to speak, let your words be few.
Keep your word too, my son. If you tell God you will do something, make sure that you do and that it is within your power to do it. In all that you do, my son the most important thing is to reverence God.
The life God has given is yours to use to the best of your ability. This life is a gift from God to you, do your best with it.
Remember son, in all that you do a good reputation is more valuable than anything you can own.
Know that as life happens learn from it. You can learn more from sorrow and from wise counsel.
Son, remember think first in all situations – don’t be too hasty to get angry. There will be times when you feel justified to become angry. Instead pause and think and use the wisdom, the knowledge of things that God has gifted you with. Think first. This will enrich your life.
Remember, God is in control. Who can change what He has planned or alter it in any way.
In all that you do my son, don’t think too highly of yourself. You have discernment, you can enjoy all that you own, but remember God is and will always be in control.
Reverencing God, my son and living the best life in wisdom for Him will result in the best, long-lived life. Why should you throw any of it away for something that is worth nothing in the end?
There are so many things that we just won’t understand. Only God knows.
For all these things that I have considered my son, listen to my counsel.
All things will happen to all men. As long as you live and as long as you believe, reverence and honor God – there is hope.
So my son, work hard, live rightly toward all mankind, reverence God and enjoy this life He has given you. Remember God every day as you are young and when you’re older.
In all you do, my son reverence your God, keep his commandments, this is your duty. All that we do God will require of you one day and He will reward all our works whether they be good or bad.
This is what I imagined. This lesson and teaching from Solomon to his son applies to us all. Life is fleeting. Good and bad happen to all. The life we’re gifted is ours from God. The best thing we can do is to work hard, love God and love others. Our reward will be from him in how we use the gift of this life.
What will you do? Will you do all you can for Him? Will you enjoy the gifts of each day given to you? Will you see that every day is a gift? I pray you find deep joy and peace knowing that in the end – God loves us all and there are better things waiting for us.
So, today, this is your gift. How will you spend it?