Hanging out with Ecclesiastes isn’t fun. We need to be exposed to the Teacher’s words as a helpful exercise to have our illusions dismantled. His words are like a Goad (a pointy stick to get Sheep to go in the right direction). The endless march of time that results in death for everyone. Everything dies. Humans and Animals. From our point of view (under the sun) humans don’t seem to be any better than animals. We can see that all living creatures go to the dirt and we don’t have any concrete proof of what happens after that. We can’t prove that humans have any advantage over the animals. As a follower of Jesus we have a worldview based on the claim of the Apostles that Jesus raised from the dead so we see this differently than the Teacher in Ecclesiastes.
More on the March of Time and death from a cosmic scale.
Ecclesiastes has a whole poem about aging. We are all going towards old age and old age is miserable.
Ecclesiastes also talks about chance. Life is unpredictable. Chance screws with all of us. You can’t guarantee that when you do the right thing it will work out.
Death, Time and Chance
The Teacher, surprisingly, still wants us to be wise. The Teacher realizes that being wise is the right thing to do. There are no guarantees but better odds.
What does it mean to be overly righteous and overly wise?
It is good to be righteous and strive to live an upright moral life. But when that is your sole focus and mindset and you believe you deserve things you have the wrong perspective.
The one who Fears God will avoid all extremes.
Being overly righteous will destroy you. There is so much good to be done in the world if you try to do it all you will destroy yourself.
What are we suppose to do with all of this: Death, March of Time, Chance, Be Wise but no guarantees. Acknowledging all of this isn’t becoming an atheist or agnostic but it is the secret to enjoying life.
Come to terms with your inability to control all your life circumstances. This mindset is the silver bullet for enjoying your life.
"We do not rest satisfied with the present. We anticipate the future as too slow in coming, as if in order to hasten its course; or we recall the past, to stop its too rapid flight. So imprudent are we that we wander in the times which are not ours and do not think of the only one which belongs to us; and so idle are we that we dream of those times which are no more and thoughtlessly overlook that which alone exists.
For the present is generally painful to us. We conceal it from our sight, because it troubles us; and, if it be delightful to us, we regret to see it pass away. We try to sustain it by the future and think of arranging matters which are not in our power, for a time which we have no certainty of reaching.
Let each one examine his thoughts, and he will find them all occupied with the past and the future. We scarcely ever think of the present; and if we think of it, it is only to take light from it to arrange the future. The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means; the future alone is our end.
So we never live, but we hope to live; and, as we are always preparing to be happy, it is inevitable we should never be so.”
Remember to live.
Life is full of things that are out of your control and don’t always make sense. Death and Chance and Time put those in your face all the time. Well then what should we do? Be wise. Fear the Lord. Be present. Enjoy what is in front of you. Don’t try to control it. Just enjoy it.
It hurts you to hear these things but you need to hear it. Don’t go any further. We’ve gone far enough.
Here is the conclusion of the matter. Fear God and keep his commandments. Even though this doesn’t make sense to me know I still will be held accountable to it. Justice will come. Life won’t always be shrouded in Hevel. One day the fog will be lifted.
The teacher is talking about "life under the sun” or our metaphor “life in the fog”. Life still has a meaning long into the future even amidst my inability to see it in the present.