A Couple of Thoughts on Ecclesiastes
If you want to get some odd looks, tell people Ecclesiastes is becoming one of your favourite books of the Bible. I mean, who does that? Well, me. I did that. And it’s not because I’m becoming a hopeless person, nor am I getting ready to wander around in sackcloth and ashes while telling everyone life is meaningless because in the end we all die anyway. Nor do I like the book merely because the third chapter opens with perhaps one of the most poetic passages found in Scripture.
It’s because of passages such as these (all from the NLT):
And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life – this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past. –Ecclesiastes 5:19-20
Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless – like chasing the wind. –Ecclesiastes 6:9
. . . for there is a time and way for everything, even when a person is in trouble. –Ecclesiastes 8:6
Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed. –Ecclesiastes 10:10
There is in Ecclesiastes, as Eugene Peterson notes in his introduction to the book in The Message Remix, a “. . . stark honesty . . . “ and “. . . acerbic wit . . .” to Solomon’s words which “. . . sweeps our souls clean of all “lifestyle” spiritualities so that we can be ready for God’s visitation in Jesus Christ.” (Peterson, 1157) And I find my soul has been in need of such a sweeping; my heart has needed the honest reminder I can’t find contentment and fulfillment by my own efforts, merits, and/or pursuits.
So, yes, Ecclesiastes is becoming one of my favourite books of the Bible. In my opinion, it’s a good thing. :-)