7Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. 8Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head. 9Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
(Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 ESV)
In today’s passage King Solomon states his conclusion about how we are to live in light of the fact that we cannot figure God out and in the end we all die – the righteous and the evil alike. This is the same conclusion he has come to earlier in response to the difficulties of life.
We are to go, eat, drink, enjoy. Life is short. Death is certain. So we are to enjoy the things that life has to offer while we can. And we can do this because God has already approved what we do.
Clearly this verse is speaking to those who believe in and fear God. This is actually quite a remarkable verse because it is a reference to the New Covenant that would not be fully revealed until Jesus came on the scene and died on the cross.
Jesus’ death paid for the sins of those who lived under the New Testament and also those who lived under the Old Testament. The difference being that those who live under the New (those of us living today) look back on what God did at the cross while those who lived under the old looked forward.
In either case, God offered forgiveness and approval to those who had faith in Him. And it is only to those that God gives the ability to enjoy life [Ecclesiastes 2:26].
Note that God does not approve of us doing anything we want. There are pleasures and then there are legitimate pleasures. There is still sin. God is not commanding us to live wantonly.
It is not sinful to take pleasure in what God has given us. In fact, it is sinful not to take pleasure in such things since God commands us to enjoy them.
Notice also that the attitude with which we partake of these things is commanded. We are to do them with joy, with a merry heart, and with love.
This includes enjoying life with our wife (or spouse, since this obviously works both ways). Our spouse is our portion in life, given to us by God so that we can enjoy life. Like the rest of life marriage can be difficult. But our spouse is a gift and we would not be able to enjoy life nearly as much if we went through it alone.
We should also enjoy our work (whatever your hand finds to do). Work is not a curse. Nor is it to be avoided in exchange for living off of others. Work is a blessing. It a gift from God that we can use to make our own life better as well as the lives of others.
To that end we do it with our might. That is how we enjoy it – by taking pride in what we do and knowing that what we do in some way benefits others. We should be thankful that God has given us work to do [Colossians 3:17, 23].
A proper enjoyment of God’s earthly blessings compensates believers for the drudgery and difficulties that are an inevitable part life. We should not forsake the joy God offers us just because life is complicated and impossible to figure out. We should not let the evilness going on around us get us down such that our own lives become miserable.
It is God’s will for us to enjoy life [Philippians 4:4; 1 Timothy 4:4]. Once we are dead (in Sheol) we cannot enjoy the things of this earth any longer. This is our only chance.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.