Funny, reading Ecclesiastes on Labor Day.
Most view this book of the Bible as the musings of a skeptic, who finds no meaning in life without God. I disagree. These are the writings of a wise man, not a fool.
He sees that for all his work, little really changes in the world (1:1-11). He tries to find ultimate meaning (1:12-15) through wisdom (16-18), pleasure, projects and possessions (2:1-11). Wisdom is a little better, but the wise die like the fool (12-17), and work is still frustrating (18-23). What really makes life – enjoyment - is something only God can give; and He doesn’t give it to all (24-26).
God has different times for different things in life (3:1-8). We can ponder but not plumb the depths of eternity, so we should enjoy our place in life, not try to be God, but rather receive gratefully what He gives (9-15). There is injustice (3:16-22), oppression (4:1-3), envy and striving and ambition (4-8). Companionship and wisdom are better, but they go the way of all flesh, too (9-16).
Worship and godliness is not about many words, but deeds (5:1-7). Love of power and money is worthless in the long run, but those who enjoy what God has given and don’t take themselves too seriously are blessed (5:8-6:12).
Wisdom is better than folly (7:1-19), but it isn’t the silver bullet, either, because our sins mess it up (15-29). Earthly authority brings some helpful limitations, but the fear of God or lack of it determines our destiny (8:1-13). Having wisdom and goodness often don’t count in determining if you’re blessed (8:14-9:12). Having wisdom is better, but it is easily ruined or lost (9:13-10:4). Lack of wisdom really hurts (10:5-20).
Do your work and be generous, but the final result is up to God, who judges, so remember Him before you grow old and die (11:1-12:8). Well placed words are useful, but many words weary one. In the end - fear God (12:9-14).