Rev. Sam Beltz, pastor at St. John Lutheran Church in Oskaloosa, IA, joins host Rev. Timothy Appel to study Ecclesiastes 2:18-26.
Solomon keeps speaking directly concerning the vanity of this life under the sun. When Solomon reflects on the toil of this life, he sees the futility in working hard all life long only to leave everything to someone who may be a fool. This calls for reflection on the part of Christians and a daily return to the purposes God has given us in our work, lest we fall into a great evil. When we approach life in this true fear of God, He gives to us true joy in the midst of our eating and drinking and toiling.
“Wisdom for Life Under the Sun” is a series on Sharper Iron that goes through the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon’s favorite word in Ecclesiastes paints a bleak picture: “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!” Apart from God, life is nothing but vapor that does not last and can never be grasped. Yet Solomon does not leave us in despair. He shows us that life does have meaning in the faith and fear of God, from whom all things come to us as a gift.
Sharper Iron, hosted by Rev. Timothy Appel, looks at the text of Holy Scripture both in its broad context and its narrow detail, all for the sake of proclaiming Christ crucified and risen for sinners. Two pastors engage with God’s Word to sharpen not only their own faith and knowledge, but the faith and knowledge of all who listen.
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The Vanity of Toil
18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.
24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment[a] in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him[b] who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. esv.org