Reading the Word
Ecclesiastes 3:9–15 (ESV)
9 What gain has the worker from his toil?
10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;
13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.
14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.
15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.
Understanding and Applying the Word
After observing the realities of life in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Solomon now sets out to interpret these things. He asks, “What gain has the worker from his toil?” What is the purpose or meaning to it all? This is the question we all are faced with when we reflect on life.
As Solomon reflects on the meaning of life “under heaven” (cf. Ecclesiastes 3:1), he introduces a reality that he has not mentioned until now. Solomon speaks of God. In what may seem like an endless cycle of life, there is meaning. And there is meaning precisely because God stands behind it all. God has “put eternity into man’s heart” and also given mankind things in which to find joy. This is God’s gift to us. And God’s gift is meant to lead us to him that we might fear him. Life finds its meaning and purpose when we understand our proper place in the world. We are created by God for his glory and our lives are in his hands.
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