Several weeks ago we looked for “sweet nuggets” of truth in the book of Ezekiel. The challenge there was finding nuggets that were easy to understand and easy to apply today.
Finding “sweet nuggets” in Ecclesiastes is a different story. The challenge here is to find something sweet!
King Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes towards the end of his life. In a poetic way, he thinks back on all the ways he tried to find meaning in his life. His conclusion? Everything is meaningless compared to fearing God and obeying Him. The things God gives to us in this life should be enjoyed, but don’t elevate your enjoyment of God’s gifts in such a way that your love for them swallows up your love of God.
In the midst of Solomon declaring all aspects of daily life meaningless, there are some sweet nuggets:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
This section was made famous in the 1960s by The Byrds (although their rendition has the notable difference of omitting the mention of “a time for war” in true hippie fashion. Perhaps another day we can discuss whether or not war is ever just.)
This section of Scripture is sweet because it reminds us that the hard times won’t last forever. By the same token, we should be thankful for the good times here on earth since they won’t last forever either.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Often read at weddings, but a good reminder for all who are prone to do things themselves instead of asking for help. Also, a sweet reminder when you reflect on the help friends and family have given you in the past. It’s also a call for us to live justly and help those who are oppressed and need our help.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.
“Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.”
This verse should not be taken to mean that you can do whatever you want and God will be fine with it. That is clearly not true from the rest of Scripture. But this verse can be used for the Scrooges among us who hoard their wealth and don’t enjoy some of it. Even if you give money to others, but hoard the rest and don’t spend at least some on enjoying life, that is not what God wants. God gave you what you have in your life here on earth. He wants you to enjoy it! Be genereous and give. Be wise and save, but also have a sweet time with your earnings as well.
Solomon specifically mentions eating food with gladness. I believe this is why God gave us tastebuds. He could have just made our human bodies in such a way that we took in nutrition without tasting a thing. Instead, He gave us joy and pleasure in good food.
If you want to read a thoughtful book on eating food with gladness, I highly recommend Eat with Joy: Redeeming God’s Gift of Food by Rachel Stone. Rachel and I went to college together at Cairn University. She shares in this book both her own struggles with eating and what the Bible has to say about food that helped her overcome.
Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
The conclusion of the whole book:
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
At first, this doesn’t sound sweet. Duty? Judgement? But it is. The sweetness is that some of what we do will last forever beyond this earth under the sun: our relationship with the Lord and the consequences of our deeds. For those of us who fear and obey the Lord, that is sweet indeed!
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