Ecclesiastes 11 – Is life worth living?”
That was the question the Preacher raised when he began the discourse that we call Ecclesiastes. After experimenting and investigating “life under the sun,” he concluded, “No, life is not worth living!” He gave four arguments to support his conclusion: the monotony of life, the vanity of wisdom, the futility of wealth, and the certainty of death.
Being a wise man, Solomon reviewed his arguments and this time brought God into the picture. What a difference it made. He realized that life was not monotonous but filled with challenging situations from God, each in its own time and each for its own purpose. He also learned that wealth could be enjoyed and employed to the glory of God.
Though man’s wisdom couldn’t explain everything, Solomon concluded that it was better to follow God’s wisdom than to practice man’s folly. As for the certainty of death, there is no way to escape it; and it ought to motivate us to enjoy life now and make the most of the opportunities God gives us.
Now Solomon was ready for his conclusion and personal application. What he did was present four pictures of life and attach to each picture a practical admonition for his listeners (and readers) to heed. The development looks like this:
Life is an ADVENTURE—live by faith (Ecclesiastes 11:1-6)
Life is a GIFT—enjoy it (Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:8)
Life is a SCHOOL—learn your lessons (Ecclesiastes 12:9-12)
Life is a STEWARDSHIP—fear God (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
These four pictures parallel the four arguments that Solomon had wrestled with throughout the book. Life is not monotonous; rather, it is an adventure of faith that is anything but predictable or tedious.
Yes, death is certain, but life is a gift from God and He wants us to enjoy it. Are there questions we can’t answer and problems we can’t solve? Don’t despair. God teaches us His truth as we advance in “the school of life,” and He will give us wisdom enough to make sensible decisions. Finally, as far as wealth is concerned, all of life is a stewardship from God; and one day He will call us to give an account. Therefore, “fear God, and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Solomon began by seeking to answer the question is life worth living? His conclusion is that it is not if this is all there is to life. He concluded this by demonstrating that life is monotonous, that man’s wisdom is vain or futile, that wealth is vain and futile and this is because of the certainty of death. Buy then when God was brought into the picture life did have meaning. He concluded that was appeared to be monotonous became anything but when one realizes that God has created all things and that those circumstances and things are for God’s purposes.
To everything there is a season and a purpose under heaven. Wealth can be enjoyed if it was to serve and glorify God. Man’s wisdom can’t explain everything, but if God’s wisdom is sought it will overcome the folly of man. While death is in fact certain it should motivate us to enjoy life now and make the most of the opportunities God gives us. In his conclusion Solomon tells his readers that life is an adventure when it is lived by faith. We will see this in Ecclesiastes 11:1-6.
In the end of this chapter and the beginning of chapter 12 he tells us that life is a gift so we should enjoy with thanksgiving. In the Ecclesiastes 12:9-12 he tells us that life has valuable lessons for us that will bring meaning to life. And finally he tells us that we should in light of all this fear God for He has entrusted us with life.