Despair Under the Sun

“Go eat your bread with jubilation and drink your wine with a good heart, for God is already pleased with your labor. At all times, let your garments be white and let the oil on your head not be lacking. Look after life with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which he has given you under the sun — all your vain days — for it is your possession in life and in your anxiety with which you are anxious under the sun. Everything that your hand finds to do, do it in strength for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol to which you are going.”

(Ecclesiastes 9:7-10)

Much as the verses before have done for us, Solomon continues to lay out a secular view of life that is lived “under the sun.” And so, you might as well work hard and enjoy your life because the grave (Sheol) is calling and none of your labors and none of your wisdom will follow you into the grave. You’ve earned your bread, you might as well enjoy it while you still can. 

Funny thing. If one took a secular humanistic worldview, one would think this would be enough. Eat your bread, drink your wine, enjoy your wife, and let your garments be white and the oil consecrate your head (a sign of celebration — in contrast to the ashes and sackcloth of mourning). Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. Is this not what the Apostle Paul says (1 Corinthians 15:21)? Indeed, it is what the Apostle Paul says if there is no resurrection. Is that not what the prophet Isaiah wrote (Isaiah 22:13)? Indeed, it is what the prophet Isaiah wrote if you have no one to atone for your sins. So, if you are outside of the grace of God, what more can you do but to eat, drink, and be merry…yet, how often that is not enough. How often unbelievers and professing atheists are depressed by the implications of their worldview. How often atheists who convert to Christianity have said, “I didn’t believe God existed and I was angry with God for not-existing.” It is not enough, and we all know that deep down in the depths of our heart. Bur for the unbeliever living his life “under the sun,” it is the best for which he can hope.

Solomon is not done setting the stage for the solution to the problems of life, there is more despair and tragedy to come…that is, under the sun. Praise be to God that our lives need not be constrained to being lived “under the sun.” Praise be to God that we can know salvation in the Son of God and be delivered from the despair that the sun reveals in our lives. And if you are sitting in this same despair today, then do not settle for what you have “under the sun,” but repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation. He is the only escape from the grave.

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