In the previous entry, we began examining the major themes of Ecclesiastes, beginning with the book’s roundabout emphasis on the goodness of the eternal God. This theme is seldom made explicit in the book itself; you arrive at the theme via proof of the opposite. A more explicit theme, one that is quite obvious in the book from start to finish, is the weight of living life under the curse of sin.
Solomon will have plenty of positive things to say about enjoying the life God has given you, provided one is focused on fearing the Lord and keeping his commandments. Solomon has far more to say about the painful vanity of our brief life, and how under the sun there is nothing lasting to be found and only painful vexation for those who seek to shepherd the wind. Who can relate to Solomon’s exasperation when he writes “all things are full of weariness” (1:7); who hasn’t felt Solomon’s despair when he says “I hated life, because what is done under the sun is grievous to me” (2:17); who has wondered whether or not “the dead who are already dead [are] more fortunate than the living who are still alive” (4:2)? If you cannot relate to these things, you are truly blessed; you are also not the norm.
In many circles of evangelicalism, Solomon’s bleak writing is frowned upon (or even seen as sinful). We have been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ – we have nothing to complain about, and if Jesus is our joy we should always feel joy! This view is naive at best and dangerous at worst. The Lord has given us divinely inspired words of lament about the brokenness of the world, and we cannot be more holy than God in suppressing or downplaying the weight of the curse of the world we live in. In fact, it is only against the backdrop of this vain life that the Gospel can only truly be considered good news. Jesus Christ has won D-Day over Satan, sin, and death, and while Satan rages and roars against God’s creation, he does knowing Christ’s V-Day is coming. This is your time to repent and believe in Jesus’ victory over sin and everything it has broken, and to look forward to his coming kingdom when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead – and to make all things new.