Solomon decides that anything can happen to anyone. There is no formula for making God do what you want. And everyone is going to die.
Verse 2-6 talk about the living being better than the dead. He doesn't seem to account for an afterlife or of faith paying off in the end. That surprises me. I wonder if this is where the Jews get the idea that you're just dead. There are many other Old Testament places where faith after death is how you please God?
So eat, drink, be clean, be cared for, love those God gave you. And do the work of your hand that you're given.
Then he slips in a depressing collection of thought. There is nothing in Sheol where everyone is going. There is no reward for being fast or brave or smart- chance and death take everyone. No one knows when they will die.
And then a story about a king that couldn't take a small city because of a poor wise man. But no one remembered him. And maybe no one even takes a wise man's words.
And then a couple of proverbs that seems related, but not really.
Then he just does a bunch of proverbs outright.
v1 Foolishness is weightier than wisdom or honor.
I know I don't have the best attitude about this book; but some of these proverbs seem outright incoherent. I'm assuming something is lost in the translation.
And in verse 20 he tells people not to curse the king, even in the privacy of your bedroom because angels (or some winged creature) will tell on you.
Ryrie has a translation for many of these that make sense and seem wise...but they aren't obvious to me.
I like verse 5. It is straightforward. You don't know the path of the wind or how bones are formed in the womb, so you don't understand the activitiy of God.
In verse 6 he says to sow in the morning and the evening because you don't know which, if any, will take. This seems to fly in the face of his ramblings about not over working and him berating the guy who worked hard even though he didn't have a family?
Then some more contradictory advise about enjoying life because it's futile and you'll be judged for it.
Wiersbe lays out parallels that he says flow through the book. I'll have to read this another time, maybe when I have more maturity and can past the spoiled king to God's wisdom.
Solomon seems to be saying remember God in your youth before the good things fade and you're not enjoying life as much.
I get this. As my physical troubles add up, and especially the last few weeks as I got the virus and had no energy, and even no taste for awhile, it can be harder to praise the Lord-even though you know He hasn't changed. Your five senses are drowning out what you know to be true.
I pray the Lord won't let me fade away beyond where I can praise Him and seek to do his will to the last. I want to end well.
Verses 1-8 are so depressing and grim, describing how we become so broken and frail. But the truth and reality are better than false fiction that sounds good.
There is something about the way the conclusion, verses 9-14 are written that seems to make the case for the post-exile authorship. they seem to be explaining the preacher from a third-party perspective.
Ultimately, it comes down to fear God and obey His commandments. He has given you tasks to do, the gifts of life, and even though there are paradoxes and mysteries- it doesn't change what we are to do.
I have to admit, since god knows my heart, that I have not enjoyed this book. And that has been compounded by not feeling close to God the last few weeks. I didn't eat well over the holidays and I had several symptoms of not caring properly for my diabetes. Then when I started eating well and cut out sugar, I had a week of keto flu/sugar withdrawals. And on the tail end of that, just as I started feeling well, COVID hit and has lasted a few weeks. All of this with the backdrop of turning 50 and noticing several of the frailties mentioned by Solomon in my own inventory.
It's depressing. And discouraging. And I could let it pull me under. But this author from a few thousand years ago noticed the same list. It's God's way for what ever reason. And. It's God's body. I'm just the steward.
Wiersbe points out that when Solomon examined life under the sun, just the earthy perspective; it was disjointed, unsatisfying and vaporous. But when he examined it in light of God- it was simple and mean to be enjoyed within the context of fearing and obeying God.
Look up and keep your eyes on Him.