Ecclesiastes 2:18-26 – Good Things

two little girls hugging with joy

Read Ecclesiastes 2:18-26

Do you like your job? When we like what we do, it’s a bonus. Too many people head off to work, dreading the next eight hours. Here, Solomon isn’t dreading the work but rather having to leave the fruits of his labor to someone else, presumably undeserving.

The whole matter of inheritance is hinted at here. Solomon wasn’t a fan of working hard so that his wealth could be passed down to others. I imagine that with having that many wives and women in his life, he had an abundant number of children. As offspring of the king, those kids were probably caught in the snare of entitlement.

Can’t you just picture it? Children sitting around doing nothing all day, enjoying the pampered life of royalty. Would they even appreciate the inheritance? I’ve known children who blow through thousands of dollars in a matter of weeks, overjoyed at the ability to buy all “things” they think will make them happy.   

Solomon may also be referring to leaving beautiful work behind for the workers who take our place. After all, he wouldn’t be king forever. Would the next king take good care of all the wealth Solomon had acquired? Would the next king be passionate about the same projects?

Solomon had big shoes to fill having been the successor to his father, King David. Can you imagine? Parents can always hope that one of the kids will follow in their footsteps or pass down a tradition.

Maybe you can relate to leaving behind something you’re passionate about? I changed positions in my career as a paralegal plenty of times when my pastor husband was called to a new church and moved us to a new town. I enjoyed my work immensely and took pride in helping my clients. Each time I would leave a job behind, I would hope and pray that my replacement would care for those clients like I did.

Similarly difficult was leaving children behind at each church after being children’s ministry director, their Sunday School teacher, choir director, or whatever “hat” they had seen me wear. Many of them are now married with children of their own. The circle of life is a beautiful thing.

Again, we see Solomon taking a negative slant in his reflections. And then, like a light bulb turns on, he mentions God and gives divine credit for the good things. Interesting what those “good” things were for Solomon. Food. Drink. Satisfaction at work. Solomon said he “realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.”

I love how James 1:17 says it. “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” God never changes. He was there for Solomon and James, and He’s here for us!

hearts overlaid by the "Creation of Adam" hands with light ball between their hands

I’ve always believed we should not let our work define us, yet we should love it enough that it doesn’t feel like work. Then our work is like a gift from God. How we perform in that job is our gift back to God.  Even if it’s work we’re not crazy about, we should devote all work, even our “busyness” to God.

Ask yourself: Who am I working for? Why am I working–for a paycheck, something to do, to please God?

Even Solomon called it out when he said, “God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him.” That was the answer to Solomon’s dilemma. Was he that far distanced from God that he couldn’t feel the love anymore? Solomon wasn’t feeling the joy in life. He had the wisdom and knowledge already, but those were gifts from God early in his life when he was still more like his God-fearing father, King David.

Several times we’ve seen Solomon refer to that fleeting wind and how ignorant it is to chase it. Yes, it’s impossible to catch the wind. But the Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as the “wind.” Unlike Solomon, we should want to chase that wind or at least be praying to be filled with that wind’s power.

The second part of Solomon’s statement is key – “who please him.”  The “who” in that statement can be you and me. We please God, don’t we? People for generations between us and Solomon have had that same opportunity – to be one to please God. To be a “who!”

colorful animation of prayer hands and hearts and flowers

Let’s pray. Father God, thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you that I can rely on you and your truth to prevail. Help me be bold in my faith. I want to please you with my actions and words. Help me say the right things and be wise with my timing.  You have given me the desire to help others. Direct my path to help further your kingdom.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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