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The Scriptorium


Ecclesiastes 5.18-20

18Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him: for it is his heritage. 19As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor – this is the gift of God. 20For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.

The Story:Better to learn contentment than to be consumed with ambition.God will give 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 the heavens”, and it must have appeared to Solomon that, just as he had lost sight of this, his son was about to as well. Try to keep your whole life in mind, son, and not just the joy you are experiencing at the moment: this would seem to be the counsel Solomon offers in verse 20. But don’t miss the phrasing: “God keeps him occupied.” God is sovereign in all our activities; even in our rebellion, it 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).

The Structure:We have seen in our own day how greed, ambition, and lust for wealth led corporate executives to compromise, lie, and risk the security of their businesses and the wellbeing of their clients. The economic downturn from which we have been seeking to rise is a spiritual and moral crisisfirst of all. Bad choices and practices flow from an improper orientation to life. When men 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. 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 come “under the heavens.”

Do you agree that our society today is in the grip of a spiritual and moral crisis? What other evidence would you cite to support your answer?

Each week’s studies in our
Scriptorium column are available in a free PDF form, suitable for personal or group use. For this week’s study, “Approaching God: Ecclesiastes 5,” simply click here.

T. M. Moore

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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 the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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