In the second chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon tries all manner of pleasures and achievements to feed his compulsion to understand, to be satisfied with the mystery of the world. And he concludes they are all vaporous.
After eight chapters, he recommends that we enjoy life. What has changed? Nothing. Solomon has simply discovered that a proper perspective brings color to an otherwise colorless world. Faith makes meaningless things meaningful. It invites us into the deeper reality of what is happening in the world. Food is not the idol we would try to make it; it is not the source of eternal meaning. But it is a gift, an opportunity for a glimpse of the goodness of God.
We often think that piety and proper perspective are antithetical to joy and satisfaction. That we have to live sad and somber to be “spiritual” (the very reputation Ecclesiastes mistakenly has). God exhorts us in the opposite direction. This verse says we ought to enjoy life. It’s just that the things the world offers as enjoyment don’t deliver. True joy is not found through chasing particular circumstances. True joy is rooted in a perspective that sees things as they are. Even simple things like eating and drinking are causes for celebration.
Adopting a true perspective is what is best for us. It is what unlocks true peace and joy. It turns out that the “little” things are actually the big things.
God wants what is best for us. He wants what truly brings us the peace and joy we desire. He is not going to approve of our immature and incorrect ways of trying to gain joy and peace. He is going to call us into truth and reality. For that is where the real treasure of joy is to be found.
“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”
– Ecclesiastes 8:15
The Book of Ecclesiastes is about how to accept a proper perspective of reality. Only then can we make effective decisions about who we trust and how we live. This is the fourth in a series of six devotionals centered on Solomon’s teachings in Ecclesiastes. We pray it challenges and encourages you.