Today we conclude the book of Ecclesiastes. Chapter 9 beings with a longer exposition of the “why bother” question. Note that Solomon starts, though, speaking about how the deeds of the righteous and the wise (notice the correlation like in Proverbs) are in the hand of God (9:1). This is in contrast to the “under the sun” point of view. For the unbeliever, what is the difference between righteous or wicked, good or evil, clean or unclean, saint or sinner, oath keeper or oath breaker (v. 2)? And the point is exactly that: there is no difference (v. 3). Under the sun, the end is the same, so there is no point to any of it. It is all senseless without God. We go to nothing, no nothing matters (vv. 5-6).
In verse 7, we see that the enjoyments of this life are approved by God. But Solomon is still talking about those who do not believe in God. Eat, drink, and be merry (vv. 7-8 – white garments are festive clothing), and enjoy it while it lasts (v. 9). Do it now if there’s nothing after death (v. 10). But remember that none of it matters. If there is no God, then everything happens by chance (v. 11). There is no purpose. Nothing we do can keep us from suffering (v. 12). Nothing we do will be remembered (vv. 13-16).
Chapter 10 consists of more wisdom sayings. A little folly destroys wisdom (10:1). Folly always reveals itself (v. 3). Verses 5-7 warn against the foolishness of rulers. Verses 8-11 tell us that foolishness reaps foolishness. Verses 12-15 speak of how a fool uses his words. Verses 16-20 contrast the blessings of a wise leader with the curses of a foolish leader.
Chapter 11 opens with wisdom about uncertainty. 11:1-2 speak about not putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Verse 3 tells us that stuff happens, and verse 4 warns against letting fear of the unknown (the stuff that happens) stop us from doing what ought to be done. Verse 5 tells us that we cannot know how God will use what we do. Because we don’t know, we should do what ought to be done and let God handle the rest (v. 6).
In verse 7, Solomon begins speaking about the joy and value of youth. “Light” is a metaphor for youth. In verse 8, “darkness” is old age. While all of life should be enjoyed, the young need to enjoy their youth. Verse 9 talks about the consequences of our actions. Where are our eyes and our heart (and our treasures)? Verse 10 instructs the young to remove anxiety and put away evil, because youth is fleeting.
This wisdom about youth continues into chapter 12. Solomon calls for the young to live under heaven, not under the sun (12:1). He has previously spoken about living life to its fullest under the sun because this life is all we have. Here, he is speaking about life under heaven. We are to live life obeying God and serving Him – living the Christian life to its fullest extent – while we are young and have a greater capacity to do so (vv. 2-7). Before our strength goes (v. 3), before our minds go (v. 4), before our “get up and go” gets up and leaves (v. 5), before our bodies fail (v. 6) and we die (v. 7).
Solomon then ends where he began (v. 8). Everything under the sun is worthless. But under heaven, we find the meaning of life. Verses 11-12 are believed by some to be commending Holy Scripture as our primary reading for wisdom. The book ends with the final conclusion of Solomon’s wisdom. The point of life? Fear God and obey him (the same point as Proverbs). This is why were here. And we need to remember that our reward is in heaven, and that we do not work for earthly treasures (v. 14). God sees all, knows all, and repays all, for those both under the sun and under heaven. Where are we living?