Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's a Wisdom Thing

I was reading a long segment of Ecclesiastes 5, which is all about preferences, which were the topic of Doug’s August 30th post. In fact Doug closed that post with the words: “It’s a wisdom thing.” What I found interesting while reading this passage recently is how multi-faceted it is. Some things that seem to be clear cut also seem to be contradicted by verses just a short ways away. This suggests that there is a wisdom (pardon the pun) to encountering the whole, to letting the parts bounce off of one another. (The text below is from the English Standard Version as appearing on Bible Gateway).

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

“There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is there to him who toils for the wind? Moreover, all his days he eats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.

“Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.”

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