Day One Hundred Forty-Nine, Ecclesiastes
Today’s reading of Ecclesiastes continues with the search, and discovery of emptiness, in many aspects of this life. Indeed, Solomon had everything he could desire on this earth, and he had the means to search out and try to find purpose in any aspect of this life.
He writes of the emptiness of wisdom:
“For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”
“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”
“A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
Of the human condition
“I saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors—and they have no comforter. And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.
“The fool folds his hands and ruins himself. Better on ehandful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”
Of unshared lives
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Of false worship:
“Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few…much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.”
“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.”
“All man’s efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied. What advantage has a wise man over a fool? What does a poor man gain by knowing how to conduct himself before others? Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
“Who can straighten what he has made crooked? When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.”
“Obey the kings’ command, I say, because you took an oath before God. Do not be in a hurry to leave the king’s presence. Do not stand up for abad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases. Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’”
“Although a wicked man commits a hundred crimes and still lives a long time, I know that it will go better with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God.”
“There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless.
“The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.”