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Eating and Drinking Darkness

“Also, all his days he eats in darkness; he is greatly vexed — he suffers and is frustrated.”

(Ecclesiastes 5:16 {5:17 in English Bibles})

In every case where Solomon uses the word חֹשֶךְ (choshek) in his writings, he uses it in the figurative and not in the literal sense. Those who forsake what is upright walk in darkness (Proverbs 2:13); the one who forsakes his parents will be put out into utter darkness (Proverbs 20:20); darkness is compared to foolishness (Ecclesiastes 2:13-14), to the ignorance of a stillborn babe (Ecclesiastes 6:4), and to seasons of trial and difficulty (Ecclesiastes 11:8). 

Thus, we ought not read this, as some do, that the man obsessed with wealth only eats at night, after dark. This, in and of itself, can be wearying to a person’s soul. Yet, what Solomon has in his sight is even more weighty. Those so obsessed will find themselves consuming frustration, foolishness, and the utter darkness of being alone. For, when you are so consumed with wealth and its accumulation, who can you really trust? Whom will you truly love? Will not your eyes darken and you find that you rob yourself of those events in life that are eternally important — friendships, celebrations, and spiritual rest? Such brings little more than suffering and frustration into a person’s life. Beware dear friends, beware!

Satisfaction in Your Work is a Good Gift

“Behold, I saw that which is good and which is beautiful — it is to eat and to drink and to see the goodness of all his anxiety for which he works hard under the sun for the number of days of his life which God has given him — for it is his portion.”

(Ecclesiastes 5:17 {5:18 in English Bibles})

In the west, fewer and fewer professions demand genuine tradesmen. Manufacturing is highly automated or is done through repetitive activities on an assembly line. Much of the construction that is done consists of tract housing and even in my former trade of carpet installing, so much of that is basic covering a floor with the carpet being “flat and fuzzy side up” and not a lot of fancy borders or inset designs. Custom craftsmanship requires time and skill but sadly most people either cannot afford or do not wish to pay for skilled craftsmanship.

Currently our church is having its stained glass windows redone — they are 90 years old and the lead is breaking down — here is an instance where all the craftsmanship is done by hand as they must custom remake every piece of lead which mounts the colored glass in place — none of which are regular and none of which can be automated. It is taking a bit longer than we expected going into the project, but at the same time, we can see the pride in craftsmanship taken by those involved in the process. 

There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from a completed job that has been done well — when you have crafted something with your own hands which is distinct from all other things. And this is an experience that much of our society does not relate to…sadly, in many cases, jobs never seem to come to an end, but just continue on week after week, month after month, and year after year — and then we wonder why people are anxious to retire and don’t feel like there is a lot of meaning in their labors.

Solomon has addressed this before and will come back to this theme again, but his simple answer is that since we do not know how many days our God has given us in this world — take satisfaction in the things you accomplish and in the provision that you earn from those labors. In the end, that will bring joy to your life; it is your portion in life — make the most of it.