Reading Ecclesiastes isn’t easy. Solomon says things that make a righteous man cringe, then turns completely around and blows away what he just said. He seems schizophrenic. It’s not a book you might choose to quote from.
Taken as a whole, Solomon is looking at the choices he’s made in trying to find the balance between the holy and the unholy, the wise and the foolish, the honorable and dishonorable. He claims to have intentionally bounced between each extreme only to find vanity—emptiness.
That is not unlike how I live. Not that I want to see how close to evil I can get without becoming evil, but I seem to bounce around a lot.
It’s important to read Ecclesiastes all the way through without judgment, realizing he isn’t laying out a life-plan but revealing his own struggles to have life make sense. After all, it is a common struggle.
He could not have written this while he was experimenting. Both sides provided delight and attraction. Honestly, he seems to have enjoyed the process. It was not until he came to the end and looked back that he could see both the destruction of self-interest and the glory of God’s intentions.
Ecclesiastes suggests that at any moment we have two choices. We can seek that which satisfies our desires or that which fulfills God’s purposes. Occasionally they are one in the same, but even so, how we approach them has great bearing upon the joy connected with the choice.
God did not create life to be a waste of time and effort. Life is not vain or in vain, unless I follow empty pursuits. Jesus provides abundant life—life with more built into it than we can get out of it by ourselves. Committing ourselves to live within that abundance begins when we, by faith, acknowledge that that abundance actually exists. It is realized when we embrace the One who is already embracing us.
Solomon had to wait until it was all over to realize what was true all along. How much life did he miss trying to find the boundaries rather than God?