I’m guessing that even the newest reader of Ecclesiastes picks up on the underlying heartbeat of “the Preacher’s” (1:1) words pretty quickly. I’m only two chapters in and the pulse is already established. Eleven times, so far, the son of David, the king of Jerusalem, the man of great wisdom and great means has repeatedly sounded the dirge of a suppressed, and sometimes depressed, perspective. Under the sun . . . under the sun . . . under heaven . . . beneath the sun . . . under the sun.
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. . . . I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. . . . What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun?
(Ecclesiastes 1:9,14; 2:22 ESV)
And the steady drumbeat of earthbound perspective will continue throughout the Preacher’s writing. Another nineteen times the vanity of life, when lived but under the sun, will throb throughout the king’s musings. Heavy sigh!
But, at the end of chapter two, though for a moment, the Preacher allows the eyes of his cloud covered perspective to look up and, behold, there’s a crack in the cover, and a glimpse of things above sun . . . a perspective sourced only in heaven.
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from Him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?
(Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 ESV)
If we’re gonna keep on keepin’ on under the sun, says the Preacher, then the best we can hope for is to find some enjoyment from it. To be able to look upon the labor and trouble of life and see in it some good. But this, he realizes, is only possible if it comes from the hand of God. We might sow in the field, but apart from the favor of God, there is no harvesting and eating. We might work our tails off, but the jazz factor really comes when we see the fruits of labor in the context of the God of heaven.
A glimmer of light . . . a foreshadow of the real enjoyment that comes not from an “under the sun” view of life, but from setting our minds on things that are above (Col. 3:1-2). Real enjoyment is found when the work our hands find to do on this earth is done “heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” . . . when “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17, 23 ESV).
So how important is perspective? Pretty!!!
It’s what turns “vanity, vanity” into get-all-giddy-with-excitement joy. It’s what elevates “making a living” to “investing in the kingdom.” It’s what shifts our focus from how much we have in the bank, or how many toys we’ve accumulated, to the treasure that we’re laying up in heaven. When we go from under the sun to things above, then real enjoyment is possible. When we make the shift from “working for the man” to serving the risen LORD, then our joy is full.
As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. ~ Jesus (John 15:9-11 ESV)
Jesus’ joy in us. That sounds like real enjoyment! Amen?
By His grace . . . for His glory!