The Scriptorium

Contentment

God can keep us busy, using His gifts as He intends. Ecclesiastes 5.18-20

Ecclesiastes 5 (7)

Pray Psalm 25.4, 5
Show me Your ways, O LORD;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.

Read Ecclesiastes 5.18-20.

Prepare.
1. How do work and its rewards fit into God’s plan for us?

2. What’s the key to keeping the busyness of our lives from causing us to “dwell unduly”?

Meditate.
Better to learn contentment “under heaven” than to be consumed with ambition “under the sun”.

God gives us work and a measure of good things; we must learn to receive the gifts of God with thanksgiving, and to enjoy them for what they are, without allowing them to become gods themselves.

This is an essential aspect of life “under heaven”, and it was clear to Solomon that, just as he had lost sight of this (Eccl. 2), his son was about to as well. “Try to keep your whole life in mind, son, and not just the fleeting happiness you are experiencing at the moment.” This is the counsel Solomon offered in verse 20. But don’t miss the phrasing: “God keeps him busy.” God is sovereign in all our activities; even in our rebellion. Everything in our lives is according to the will of God, Who continually strives to draw men to Himself and to keep them from falling into the deadly consequences of their sinful desires (Gen. 6.3; Rom. 1.18-32).

Bad choices and practices flow from an improper orientation to life. When people believe that they are the final standard of what’s good and right for them, all absolute morality goes out the window, and, with it, all sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of our neighbors.

Solomon’s advice to Rehoboam is that he should never lose sight of God, never take His gifts for granted, never think that everything exists only for his own satisfaction, and never fail to keep in mind all his responsibilities and the opportunities for doing good that come with these. God will keep us busy, so that we use the gifts He gives us, and if we keep focused on Him, we will not “dwell unduly” in folly and vanity (v. 20).

That is, we should always see ourselves as approaching God, not only in times of worship, but in our work and every other aspect of our lives. Such wisdom can only be realized “under heaven”.

Reflect.
1. God gives us many good gifts. Such as? What makes these gifts from God? What does He intend in giving them to us?

2. Much good can be realized from the work God gives us to do. Besides income, what else of good can work provide? Is the work God has given us to do more than the job at which we work? Explain.

3. What difference would it make if we regarded everything in our lives, and every moment of our lives, as gifts from God?

God gives wisdom along with the riches and capabilities inherent in wisdom, that is, wisdom’s insights, so that people eat and drink from the things they have received: the bread of wisdom, its water, the wine, which he mingled into a cup. This is a gift from God. If one takes the spiritual in the right way, it is, finally, the grace of his lot. Didymus the Blind (313-398), Commentary on Ecclesiastes 164.1

Give me grace just now, Lord, to recount the many gifts You have given me, so that I…

Pray Psalm 25.1-22.
Try praying this psalm verbatim and out loud. Use just the words of this psalm, but as you do, think of the many gifts of God and consider the ways He will direct you in using those gifts today.

Sing Psalm 25.1-22.
Psalm 25.1-22 (Festal Song: Revive Thy Work, O Lord)
I lift my soul to You; O Lord, in You I trust.
Let me not come to shame, nor let my foes o’er me exult.

All they who wait on You shall never come to shame;
Yet they to shame shall come who stand against Your holy Name.

Make me to know Your ways, teach me Your paths, O Lord!
My Savior, all day long I wait and seek You in Your Word.

Remember mercy, Lord, and steadfast love to me!
And all my sins before You let them not remembered be!

My sins have been of old, Your love is new each day;
according to Your goodness, Lord, regard my sinful way.

Upright and good are You, You lead us in Your way;
the humble You instruct in truth and guide him day by day.

The paths of God are all of love and faithfulness.
All they who keep His covenant the Lord will surely bless.

For Your sake, Lord, forgive.  All they who fear You, Lord,
shall know Your blessings day by day and follow in Your Word.

Your friends are they who fear and seek Your holy face;
Your covenant with them You share and save them by Your grace.

Be gracious, Lord, to me; my heart is weighed with woe.
My troubles and affliction see; let my transgressions go.

Consider all my foes, who hate me all the day;
and rescue my poor soul lest I should stumble in the way.

Preserve me in Your way, redeem Your people, Lord!
We wait for You and refuge seek in Your own faithful Word.

T. M. Moore

Where does the book of Ecclesiastes fit in the overall flow of Scripture? Our series of studies, God’s Covenant, can show you, and help you discover the great beauty of the unity and diversity of Scripture, and how it all points to Christ. To order your copy of this important workbook, click here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.