24 There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him? 26 For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight. This too is vanity and striving after wind.
This passage challenges me. While reading of the labor and enjoyment of life, I remembered what God told Adam would become of man after the first sin:
Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
19 By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.”
This is the result of sinfulness: toil without rest, satisfaction, and ultimately death without gain. Solomon is reminding us here of the first couple and their sinfulness (which we have been born into). However, there is hope! Verse 25 in the original text signifies the Solomon is saying, “I have a better chance at enjoying life than anyone, but I now understand I can only do so while in relationship with God.” We then see a glimpse of the gifts of God as His sons and daughters. In the picture of the Kingdom of God, we see that those whom are his adversaries do all the work and we reap the benefits. Does that mean we should do nothing and sit back? To quote Paul, “may it never be!” No, what Solomon is saying here is a bit different than promoting laziness.
He is saying that those who work outside of the will of God will not benefit from it, just like what God said to Adam in the first days. Similarly, we read from Peter that we all have a unique purpose and if we are working outside of this purpose, our work is in vain. There is no point to working outside of our design because it is just vanity or chasing the wind. This is God’s point in Genesis 3 and this is also Solomon’s point in Ecclesiastes. The world has nothing purely joyous to offer. We get no satisfaction from the world outside of the presence of God.