Ecclesiastes Chapter 2 — What Stands Out

I’ve started reading Ecclesiastes slowly, in a meditative way.  Here’s what stood out for me in Chapter 2:

“Even in the night his heart does not rest.  This also is vanity.”  Ecclesiastes 2:23

Probably this struck me because I have trouble sleeping (see A Thorn in the Flesh), and I have a busy over-active brain that sometimes makes it hard for me to relax..  However, here the author (King Solomon) is talking about something a little different — being unable to rest because we are discontented with our life.  We are so intent upon our own satisfaction, it irks us to realize that at some point we will lose it all.  Everyone dies.  The things we have achieved may be forgotten;  the wealth we accumulated will be passed on to somebody else.  Guess what, we’re not in control!

God doesn’t mean for us to live this way.  Rest was built into creation and the Sabbath was given to us not as one more rule to follow, but as a blessing.  Solomon also says in this same chapter:

“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.  This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him, who can eat or who can have enjoyment?”  Ecclesiastes 2:24

We cannot find satisfaction through our own merits and efforts;  this is indeed vanity because we are not giving God His proper place in our lives.  We are to relish the gifts He has given us each day, and stop fretting about the future, which is in His hands.  We must accept that He knows what’s best for us. Any hope of rest lies in turning our life over to Him. That’s what true rest is about.

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

~Psalm 62:1-2

For more posts about rest see:

Come Away and Rest

Resting In His Love

Final Rest


A Poem on Rest by George Herbert

The Pulley

When God first made man,                                                                                                   Having a glass of blessings standing by,                                                                      “Let us”, said he, “pour on him all we can.                                                                     Let the world’s riches, which dispersed lie,                                                                   Contract into a span.”

So strength first made a way;
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure.
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure,
Rest in the bottom lay.
“For if I should,” said he,
“Bestow this jewel also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts instead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature;
So both should losers be.
“Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness;
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to my breast.”
by George Herbert
For more poems by George Herbert go to these posts:

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3–What Stands Out

I love it when one of the Lutheran Ladies does a study series, because it encourages me to get out my Bible and read the same passages.  So I have been following Leslie’s posts about Ecclesiastes chapter three, and here is the verse that stands out for me:

“He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.  Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart…”  Ecclesiastes 3:11″

Later in the chapter, the author talks about how we are no better than animals in some ways — we’re born, we die, our bodies turn to dust.  However, in this verse we see a hint of how God made humankind special.  We have an innate sense that there is something beyond our own daily concerns, a yearning for something more than mere subsistence.  St. Augustine put it this way:

“Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”

This is the issue that Solomon or “the preacher” is struggling with throughout Ecclesiastes.  What are earth are we here for?  What is the meaning of life?  If money, fame, and success don’t fill us up, what will?  Or, as we’re exploring this month, how do we spend our time in a way that is meaningful?

The answer to all these questions is the same:  God.  He is the one who is eternal;  He is the one who can fulfill us and make our existence worthwhile; He is after all, our Creator.  Knowing Him, obeying Him, praising Him, these are the things that will bring us true satisfaction.

Have you read chapter three of Ecclesiastes yet?  If so, what stands out for you.  We want your comments and questions.