A Devotional Journey
led by Dr. Gene Pearson
Thru the Bible in a Year
In chapter 5 religion as an end in itself is first denounced, and then riches are presented as a mixed blessing: useful but distracting and tempting to the one who possesses them. The one who possesses them faces more anxiety than the one who does not.
Chapter 6 continues the theme of riches but jumps immediately to another: life is transitory and of brief duration; therefore there can be no real security in its pursuits.
In chapter 7 the point is made that hard times teach us more than easy ones, and that no one can alter God's will. It is clear that the human attempt to put things together (v. 27) in such a way as to discover life's meaning is doomed to failure; only God knows and can reveal it.
Chapter 8 embraces a number of themes, from obedience to the king to unfairness in the fact that the righteous often suffer and the wicked prosper when the reverse should be the case. As one commentator puts it: Job 21-24 enlarges on this; Psalm 73 draws the sting of it; and John 5:28-29 gives the final explanation (see NIV Study Bible notes on 8:14).
Chapter 9 reiterates that an earthly perspective cannot fathom life's circumstances, but the conviction has already been affirmed by the writer that God's justice will eventually prevail (see 8:12).
As you read through this book, are you more encouraged or discouraged? It is easy to see this writing as a cynical response to the futility of human existence; however, it is clear, even in Ecclesiastes, that God is in control and that His ultimate purposes are just, no matter how unreasonable or disagreeable they may appear at any given moment.
In your own life, is there something happening or some condition which seems unfair? Do you ever struggle with any of the same issues faced by the Teacher? You might want to reconsider the words of Peter in his second letter to the Christians in Asia Minor (3:9): The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise [that Christ will return and establish God's eternal and just rule, bringing judgment on the wicked and vindication to His own], as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Today, ask God for greater patience and a clearer perspective on what's important. Then, try to accept the fact that everything does not have to be in your own control because it all is ultimately in His. Listen for His encouragement and direction and then follow Him. Concentrating on that takes a great deal of the sting out of the very real and otherwise perplexing problems in our lives.
8 A. Eugene Pearson 2011