sermon: Ecclesiastes Resumed (Part Twelve)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 18-Jan-14; Sermon #1194; 67 minutes
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the curse of a corrupt judicial system described in Ecclesiastes 5:8-9, warns us that corruption in the courts is a fact of life, but it will intensify before Christ returns. We should not be surprised by this curse, realizing that God, who is sovereign over everything, is aware of it and is purposely allowing it for a purpose. Our needs will be provided for. This world is driven by the selfish desire of power, creating a climate of perpetual corruption, going right to the top of human governments, ascending through a bloated self-serving bureaucracy. Nothing has really changed from Solomon's day. In the United States, it seems the bad guys win all the court cases. With all of its faults, corrupt government is preferable to lawless anarchy. Our culture seems to be suffering from affluenza, our yearning disease, trying to keep up with the Joneses. The antidote to this affliction (greed motivated by Satan) is to be content with what God has provided us, an attitude that has to be learned. God is always faithful; He will supply all our needs. The secrets of the Lord reside with those who fear Him. Wealth, silver, gold, or money does not satisfy the inner drive for contentment or permanent security because covetousness is not satisfied with 'just a little more.' Sadly, in the words of Oliver Goldsmith, "the future of a nation is bleak when wealth increases; when wealth increases, men degenerate." Government cannot (nor should be) relied upon; God can. We are to be content with the labor God has provided, satisfied continually with what our labor has produced, accepting both the job and what has provided as a gift from God. It is God's desire to keep us busy to enjoy blessings, storing up happy memories with no regrets.
Ability to enjoy work Abraham's wealth ACLU Affluenza Anarchy Beggars, freeloaders, and scam artists Blessings Bureaucracy Contentment Corrupt judicial system Deuteronomy 7:9 Desire to be affluent Ecclesiastes 5-13-20 Ecclesiastes 5:8-9, 11 Ephesians 4:28 I Corinthians 1:9-10 I Timothy 6:7 Gays Greed Hebrews 10:23 Hoarding wealth Homosexuals Jacob's wealth Job 1:21 John D. Rockefeller Labor faithfully Love of money Luke 12:13 ' just a little bit more' attitude problem Matthew 6:33 Miser Money More, more, more Nest egg precarious Oliver Goldsmith Oppression of the poor Perversion of justice Philippians 4:11-13 Progressive agenda Proverbs 30:7-9 Psalm 25:12-14 Restlessness Rigid system II Corinthians 12: Seek first Kingdom of God Silver and gold Solomon's building programs Stewardship Storing up happy memories Thankfulness for God's closeness Thorn in the flesh Wealth "We can't take it with us" Yearning disease
I am going to go back a little bit from where we finished because some new information came to mind as I was going through Ecclesiastes 5.
Ecclesiastes 5:8-9 If you see the oppression of the poor [this is something that applies to us at this time], and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them. Moreover the profit of the land is for all; the king himself is served from the field.
This is only chapter 5 and this is already the third time that Solomon has addressed this subject that we just read of, that is, a corrupt judicial system. I think he is warning us because we are going to have to deal with it, not necessarily personally and directly, but it is going to impact on us because its judgments will be impacting upon us.
This is the very means by which many of the progressive elements of this nation have made on the lives of those who are innocent of what is going on, and made them miserable as a result. I am referring to people like the gays and the feminist who are motivating these things and they have won many unbalanced judgments in the corrupt courts of this nation using means like the ACLU.
Solomon is noted in the Bible for the wisdom of his judgments and not every judge empowered by our government to sit on a bench is a Solomon. His words here in this context are given to us in the sense of preparation for you and me because what he is describing is a continuous reality. We are not the first groups of people that have ever had to face this, it happens everywhere in every nation and it is going on continuously. The problem is in this nation we have generally had fairly fair courts, but that is rapidly disappearing and it is growing ever more threatening as time moves on.
So corruption in the courts is a fact of life. But as we approach the time of Christ's return we are going to have to deal with it in an intensified measure of influence. We cannot completely escape from it, so God is saying through Solomon, “be prepared.” It is going to happen and that is why he said, “when you see it, don’t be surprised.” We have seen a great deal so far but it is going to get worse.
The first piece of advice after this is, do not be surprised by it. We cannot change it and we always have to look beyond the physical realm that we are in. God is sovereign over everything and He is permitting it. Therefore, in working out His purpose, the permitting of it becomes somewhat of His purpose as well, and therefore for us to have to face this kind of a situation in the long run is going to do us well in preparing us for His Kingdom.
There is no doubt that it is wearying to live with because we must always be on guard against it. Always remember to keep the fact in mind that the true children of God are always outside the system and they are always a somewhat prejudiced against minority. I do not care where the children of God live, they are going to be prejudiced against. There is something in mankind that throws them against that which is righteous and good.
This is not God's world, our citizenship is in truth in His world, and we can do nothing to change this world. Our government is in heaven and it is not only incorruptible it is also fully aware and working out its purpose on its schedule but our needs here will be provided for. That is a promise from God.
This world is driven by the self-centered drive for power—political power, corporate power, military power, academic power, economic power, and the power to be free from other people’s power. Thus, this seeking has produced a world that is almost in constant turmoil, you do not go seeking after power without running into other people who are also seeking power in the same area as you are and other areas that are going to clash with what mankind is seeking.
It is this struggle for power, the power to be free, as one defines free, that has produced and continues to produce, much of the corruption. We saw something there in verse 9 that shows that this corruption goes right to the top.
Ecclesiastes 5:8 The violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter, for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them.
What do you think he is describing there? Believe it or not, this is an ancient way to describe the bureaucracy of a government. One official has someone watching him, and over that guy is another one, and over that guy is another one, and a chain is built as it were, all the way from the bottom to the top because it says in verse 9, even the king is served by the field. Field is used by Jesus to indicate this world. He said that in Matthew 13, the field is the world. We are talking about a worldly bureaucracy and even the king is served by it; the corruption goes all the way to the top.
There is nothing new. What we see here was going on in Solomon's day as well. In a sense nothing ever changes except the names of the people, the country they are taking place in, and so forth, because that is the way human nature works. That is why he said, do not marvel at it. Understand in one sense you are not special, this has been going on and My kids had to face this forever.
The good advice is that God is in heaven and He is our God. He is faithful to His promises and He will take care of our needs, but that does not mean we are not going to have to face the difficulty as a prejudiced against people. People in the worldly system are just by nature going to be against us. You have seen this in spades in the United States as the bad guys win all the court cases, it seems. Are they buying the judgments? Possibly, I do not know. I cannot accuse that in every case, but that is the way it works. That is the way the worldly system works.
One of the general senses that we can pick from theses verses is, in spite of the corruption in the bureaucracy, it is better to have organized government, even though it is corrupt, than to have anarchy. In other words, the government that is there does maintain some order, so it is better to be in that situation than to be where there is no rigid system in place that is functioning. As long as the bureaucracy all the way up to the king is not violent, count that as a plus. We have not hit the violent parts yet, and I hope we never do but at least what we have now, as corrupt as it is, is better than having no government at all.
Ecclesiastes 5:10-12 [Solomon gives some advice:] He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver, nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, so what profit have the owners except to see them with their eyes? The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.
In verses 8 and 9, Solomon was illustrating how things are within the larger scale of the system that we live in. In theses verse he brings things down to a more personal level. Listen to this that I am going to give you because the principle becomes important as we move through what Solomon wrote here. Everybody knows John D. Rockefeller was really rich. He was once asked, “How much money is enough?” He replied, “Just a little bit more.”
There is a great deal of wisdom there. Just a little bit more is enough than he already had, a little bit more is an attitude problem that we are all afflicted with to some extent. This affliction about a generation ago, was described in this manner by giving it a name. It was a woman writer and she called this just-a-little-bit-more attitude, affluenza. It describes the desire and the drive to be affluent.
Remember what Solomon just said here, “he who loves silver will not be satisfied by silver,” but everybody has the drive for what silver represents—it represents money. So, affluenza describes the desire and the drive to be affluent. Symptoms of the disease are experienced by just about everybody under certain conditions.
The symptoms reveal the presence of the affliction when one is constantly window shopping, not for real needs mind you, but rather for the purpose of keeping up with, or keeping ahead of the curve of those one is in competition with, or simply to fulfill a personal desire.
The symptoms also surface in periods of discontent when we realize we cannot afford something that we want to buy and yet the yearning for it grows stronger. They also arise even more sharply in the guilt we experience when we buy it anyway and then regretfully realize we are now in debt even deeper than we were before.
So, affluenza is a yearning disease that motivates a great deal of our life. Do not get too sad yet in discovering that you have this disease, because as I said earlier, we all have it, but it can be controlled. The reality that so many never face up to is, that as long as they are thinking carnally the appetite for what money can buy is never satisfied.
This is a lifelong struggle even for those who are converted, and have you begun to notice within the verses that once again Solomon is quietly edging toward contentment. You would be surprised at how frequently contentment comes up in the book of Ecclesiastes, because it is very important to the quality of life.
The only way to curb these desires is to be content with what God provides, and that is hard to do. It is like we have two powerful forces butting heads, we have the drive within us to have more, and then on the other hand we have God who is saying, let us get control of this.
The drive to have more is not essentially evil, there is nothing wrong with that, but it gets out of control and takes us into the debt and enslaves us to the bank or some person and that is bad, you are no longer free. This drive is something that God put in us. I will get into this a little bit more later on, but the greed where it gets out of control is something that is initiated by Satan. It is part and parcel of his make up.
I said, the only way to curb these desires is to be content with what God provides. The solution then lies in gradually growing in contentment and being happy with less than we desire because we are satisfied with God. For one to become satisfied with what God provides is only possible through knowing God.
Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Remember I said, the only way to curb this drive within us is through a relationship with God, with Jesus Christ. I chose these verses because the apostle Paul said he had to learn to be content. What we are talking about here is not something that comes naturally. What comes naturally is a powerful desire to have more.
That is why I said at the beginning that the world is constantly seeking for power, that it causes a great deal of the corruption, the desire to fulfill those desires. So, contentment is not natural. The apostle Paul shows that very clearly.
So, how did he learn? He was taught it by many years of experiences following his conversion within a relationship with Christ that God is always faithful. That is the key, the relationship and really truly believing that God is faithful, He will always supply the need.
II Corinthians 12:7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. [God had to humble Paul, because he had already been given many gifts and in order to keep Paul at a good level, in a relationship with Him, He humbled him.] Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul's contentment that he expressed there in Philippians 4 was not self-generated. He certainly played a part in it being a part of him but he was enabled within his relationship with Christ to get control of his drives. So it was the fruit of faithful patience within the relationship he had with God and even when he wrote II Corinthians here he was still suffering with an affliction of some kind that God had assured him he was not going to get rid of. He accepted it and went on.
David gave us some help in Psalm 25 in understanding what it is that helped to keep him in line because he had these drives. He was a conquering man, he had a lot of drives, and I am sure there was a pretty powerful competitiveness within him to win.
Psalm 25:12-14 Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. He himself shall dwell in prosperity, and his descendants shall inherit the earth. The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.
What is the secret? The secret is to truly believe that God is faithful. We will look at a series of verses that help us to understand this simply in terms of the number of times that God, over and over again, assures us that He is faithful, because He knows we are impatient and we are fearful. In order to assure us He keeps saying, He is faithful, I will help you.
Deuteronomy 7:9 [just before they went into the Promised Land] “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;”
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
I Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
I Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as in common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
This thread goes through the entire Bible. From one book to another He is reminding us that He is faithful, that He will never back away from taking care of His children.
In Ecclesiastes 5:10 the subject is about money, some people treat money as if it were a god, they love it, they make sacrifices for it, and think that it can do anything; their minds are filled by it and their lives are controlled by getting it, and by guarding it. One positive note is that when they have it, it does provide them with a measure of security. Do you see it? What faith in God does for believers, money does for unbelievers.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver, nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This is vanity.
We are beginning to see what Solomon's drive is here, we have a little war going on within us, but he is telling us the truth. Silver, gold, will not satisfy this yearning need that we have within us to be assured about life. It simply does not have the power to do that. That is why John D. Rockefeller said, a little bit more. Even he was not assured. That ought to tell us something. That drive within him for more was stronger than probably most people would have but nonetheless he would at least admit to it that he had it. That is the downside, that a person cannot be satisfied with money no matter how much he has in the bank, because the covertness that is there within him will not permit it.
The love of money as Paul wrote, is a root of all kinds of evil. It is the love of money that is really at the base of the problem.
Ecclesiastes 5:11 When goods increase, they increase who eat them; so what profit have the owners except to see them with their eyes?
This is interesting too. This is another affirmation from Solomon that money is not a cure all. He probably had to learn this the hard way. As wealthy as he was he took the Israelites into bankruptcy. He did it with wild building schemes that he came up with.
He says here in verse 11 that money, wealth, creates problems we never knew that we had before. That is what he means when he says, “when goods increase they increase who eat them.” He is saying, that if you get money you are going to be surprised at how many people show up on your doorstep to eat your wealth away. Do not take the word eat too narrowly because there are ways in which wealth can be eaten up without literally eating.
So when one increases in wealth, others will try to take the wealth from us through all kinds of schemes to consume it. That includes things like the government first, raise your taxes, they are beginning to eat up the wealth. Dependents come to live off your wealth, beggars, free loaders, spongers, scam artists, and all kinds of other hangers on, is what he was implying.
Ecclesiastes 5:12 The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.
He is telling us directly that wealth will keep one awake at night. He is saying that almost magically, without any apparent effort, that money complicates one's life no end and greatly diminishes the quality of even one's rest. And we have not even delved into what a strain it places on one spiritually.
Solomon here is mostly just talking about having the physical presence of money, it is not the blessing that those of us who do not have much money would tend to think, that if we just had a little bit more I would be able to manage my budget, if I had just a little bit more I would be able to buy that car that I need to get to work, if we had just a little bit more, I would have better clothing, etc.
This is an interesting historical fact. A man by the name of Oliver Goldsmith, when talking about money (his name Goldsmith is interesting), he actually said this at the end of the 1600s, “Ill fairs the land, to hastening ills a prey, where wealth accumulates and men decay.” I will paraphrase this for you to make it more clear. What he said is this, The future is bleak for a nation, it rapidly becomes the quarry, for when wealth increases men degenerate. He means the character that built the nation is going to begin to go downhill.
That is an historical truth. It has happened to every nation that has risen to the top of the pile among all the nations, everybody is prospering, eating well, they have beautiful clothing, they have everything—that is when the nation starts going downhill, because what built the nation begins to dissipate, and what built it was the character of the people to get to the top.
No nation falls at the peak of their power. They fall when all the barbarians around them begin to see they are not as strong in their character, in their will to succeed, they are shocked that what built them has dissipated away. That is why Oliver Goldsmith said, that the future is bleak when a nation reaches the top of the pile and everybody is rich. To Mr. Goldsmith, wealth was a very much over-valued item in a nation’s life. The record of history is there, when that peak is reached is when the nation begins to decline.
Ecclesiastes 5:13-17 There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun; riches kept for their owner to his hurt. But those riches perish through misfortune; when he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand. As he came from his mother's womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand. And this also is a severe evil—just exactly as he came, so shall he go. And what profit has he who has labored for wind? All his days he also eats in darkness, and he has much sorrow and sickness and anger.
I think that you have clearly noticed that once we got by verse 7 in this chapter, virtually everything concerns wealth, and what our attitudes toward it might be, and the possible effects that it might have upon our lives. This section that we just read continues that theme with emphasis on warning of the effects that we should strive to not allow to happen.
The word picture here describes two rich men, one hoarded his wealth and ruined his character by becoming a miser. Solomon says nothing more about him, we are given the impression that Solomon foresees this man’s life as despicable and useless. He kept everything that he had and would not share it with anybody. The lesson here in verse 13 is very clear: do not follow this path, money is for sharing.
The second man became wealthy but then he made some bad investments and he lost his wealth, thus he was right back where he started and he had no estate to leave an heir. But at least that man was working and making some use of what he did. Most of this description and thus the council here is about him.
Job 1:21 “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
You ought to be able to see one of the things that Solomon is getting at here. When we go into the ground we cannot take it with us.
I Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
So Old Testament and New Testament basically agree with what Solomon wrote there in verses 14-16. This principle that we cannot take it with us is really one of those things that I think is instinctively apparent for most of mankind. We are going to add something regarding the accumulation of wealth in Luke 12, there is another factor involved in life that has not been covered by Solomon yet, but Jesus will add this to the story
Luke 12:13-21 Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Then He spoke a parable to them, saying, “The ground of a certain rich man yield plentifully. And the thought within himself, saying, what shall I do since I have no room to store my crops? So he said, I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be marry.” “But God said to him, You fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Do you know what that factor is and how it attaches to the verses back in Ecclesiastes? First of all, everybody has to know that which I said: mankind seems to instinctively know, you cannot take it with you. So what are you going to do with it while you are alive? But there is another factor involved in this. Even if one thinks that they have built up a nice nest egg of money to rely on, what Jesus brought up in Luke 12 is there are always some factors that can wipe that away in a flash. Nobody has complete control over everything in their life, even if they have all that money, billions of dollars, it can be taken away and gone over night.
What good is it then? What is Solomon saying? Money does not have all the value that you might think it has. This is interesting for this time that we are living in right now because guys are writing left and right, it is appears in the newspapers, appears on the Internet, we are getting ready to crash! My thought is what can I really do to prepare for that? You buy silver at $20 an ounce, you buy gold at $1200-$1300 dollars an ounce, and overnight the government makes some changes and suddenly that gold is only worth $35 dollars an ounce, or silver is worth $1 an ounce.
You do not control the government—anything. Do you see the point? The only one that can be relied upon is God, and He is faithful. This does not mean that we should not make preparations, we should make preparations. But always we have to understand that it might be wiped away, and we better have something to fall back on, and that is our Father in heaven.
So whether the maker of the wealth becomes a miser and keeps everything for himself and then like the guy in Luke 12, he loses it overnight because he died, or the other guy working really hard builds up a pile of money and then the government wipes it away.
What is Solomon preaching through all here? Be careful because wealth has very limited values under most circumstances in life. It is really too complex for us to try to figure out. God knows what is going on and if we have a good relationship with Him, then we can be like the apostle Paul who felt that God was with him. He was the wind under his wings and He would take care of him, and provide for him, regardless of the circumstances.
Please turn to Proverb 30. I want you to see a principle from Solomon himself because he knew what was right. Whether he lived it, that is another thing all together, but his wisdom, knowledge, and understanding that God gave to him, he knew what was right.
Proverbs 30:7-9 Two things I request of You (deprive me not before I die); remove falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches—feed me with the food You allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.
Solomon all through here is not advocating either riches or poverty because neither one of them is the perfect solution. What he is doing all through here is warning us against the love of money and perhaps many of the delusions that this love of money can bring to us. It is just not good in that regard.
Please understand there are some people that God, of His children, made very wealthy. There is no doubt at all that Abraham was very wealthy, David was wealthy, Jacob became very wealthy, and so did Isaac. God is not against wealth, and He knew that those to whom He gave the wealth that it was not going to twist their minds and their character in any way. They understood it and they used it judiciously. God is not against wealth, but He is not going to give us something that is going to destroy us.
On the other hand, He does want us to have enough so that we are able to get by without the fear that somehow the bottom is going to drop out and we have nothing to fall back on, because we always have Him to fall back on. What He gives us He wants us to take care of and to use it judiciously.
Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth and given him power to eat of it to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God.
We are beginning to see what God expects of us—to enjoy what we have.
Ecclesiastes 5:20 For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.
What a gift. A person who has a good relationship with God is going to be given by God the joy fitting for the position he is in, in his relationship with God. The money, in a sense, means nothing.
Here is a shortened form of Solomon's counsel, it is really quite positive and balanced. Here is what is good and fitting that Solomon has taught us through here. Labor faithfully in the occupation you found, most of this is in the last three verses. Another way of putting this is, do not be restlessly looking for something bigger and better.
He is not saying in this advice that one cannot seek having better working conditions, higher pay, or whatever, the main sense of his advice is the restlessness aspect. Somebody who is restless all the time for more is not really a good person to be around. Those people’s lives will not filled with contentment.
The first piece of advice is this, if you find a job stick with it, not willing to look for another one, while you are there do good work.
If one cannot be a truly good employee with one’s mind focused elsewhere, where is the mind? Is it on the job, or on looking for another job with better pay? If the mind has wondered over to the better paying job you will not do a good job for your present employer and in the spirit of the law that is stealing from him.
Second piece of advice from Solomon: Enjoy the good your labors have provided, be thankful to God for it, not constantly dissatisfied as to its meagerness as you measure it. They used to say that the average poor person in the United States was wealthier than most of the common people in the third world—he was rich by comparison. In a sense this is what Solomon is saying—enjoy the good of your labors have provided, in other words be thankful for it, not constantly dissatisfied as to its meagerness as you may measure it. Really seek to activate the spirit of contentedness.
Third point: accept both the job and what is provided as a gracious gift from God. How many people in the United States of America are unemployed, not because they caused their unemployment directly, not because they just do not have a job, they want to work. I know men who are in the Church of the Great God who have sent out resumes by the hundreds and they cannot find a job, they are doing what they can in the circumstances they are in. Those of you who do have a job, Solomon's advice is accept both the job and what it has provided as a gracious gift from God.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
Two of those examples there in Ecclesiastes 5 involve people who are misers. The indications that Solomon either did or did not say is that they were pretty despicable to Solomon in what they were doing.
There are three ways to get wealth. First, we can work honestly for it. Second, we can steal it. Third, we can receive it as a gift, an inheritance. What Solomon has shown in those verses in Ecclesiastes is that he believes that the blessings of life are God's gift to those who work and to accept the work too as God's gift—both of them.
Even the fact that we have the mind to be able to work, even the fact that we have the health to be able to work or whatever is needed there. In verse 20 (I want to say this especially because this says again), “For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life because God keeps him busy.” That is something to think about.
God keeps us busy with the joy of His heart, so to have the ability to enjoy life's blessings is also God's gift. He enables us to be able to enjoy it. There are plenty of people who have a job and they do not enjoy it because they have no relationship with God and He has not given them the ability to enjoy what they are doing. This begins to become amazing at how much we receive from God, what is given to us, and unless we have known from His Word we would never think that He was personally involved with us giving us the ability to enjoy the work.
Verse 20 may mean that the person who truly takes God into consideration daily, as a necessary part of life and responds to Him, will not have to look back in sorrow on His past because God gave him the joy—there is nothing to regret. It is almost as if Solomon is urging us to start storing up happy memories of what we are doing right now. It is a quality of mind, the approach that we take to the circumstances we have but this is not possible unless we have the relationship with God, unless we are also taking the fact that He is being faithful to what He said that He would do and it is not being overpowered with the love or desire to have more, more, more, that always keeps one restless.
The New English Bible translates verse 20, this way: “They will take each day as it comes and use it to serve the Lord.” The Living Bible translates this verse as, “The person who does that [what Solomon says in verse 20], will not need to look back with sorrow on his past for God gives him joy.”
It is wonderful to go forward with no regrets. Part of the reason we cannot look back in that way is because maybe we have never been instructed as to what our responsibility is to God. To really be thankful for how close He is to us, and how easily we forget what we have been given.
Matthew 6:33-34 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all theses things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Before we close off here I want to prepare you for the next sermon. Up to this time I think one of the most terrific chapters that we have covered so far is chapter 3. It is awesome. Chapter 6 is one of the shortest chapters but it is filled with wonderful things to consider for life.
I found a comment regarding the topic that we have been preceding through and we are going to go into the aspect of it in the next sermon. I believe it is fitting as a summary for what we have already covered and a bridge for what we are going to go into.
Commentator Warren Weirsbe gave this statement that I am going to give you as a summary of what we have just looked into, here in Ecclesiastes 5.
If we focus more on the gift of God than the giver, God Himself, we are guilty of idolatry. If we accept His gifts but complain about them, we are guilty of ingratitude. If we hoard His gifts and will not share them with others, we are guilty of self indulgence. But if we yield to His will and use what He gives us for His glory, then we can enjoy life and be satisfied.