[reaction to OYB’s Sep. 2-5 readings]
Another supersized selection so I could get the entire Book of Ecclesiastes in. So, Esther is about situational ethics, and Job is about suffering, and maybe it is just my looming fortieth birthday talking, but it seems Ecclesiastes is about mid-life crisis. The author is identified as “the Teacher” who was a son of king David and also a king in Jerusalem. (That’s Solomon for those of you who have not been paying attention.) And despite having everything he could want, not just power and money and–yeah, he said it–a harem, but also wisdom and knowledge, he goes back to the same refrain at least three times: A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. 2:24, see also 5:18; 8:15.
It occurs to me that this is the American dilemma–how can you relate to the world when you are not constantly joyful despite having literally everything you want. Our problems are that we eat too much food, have houses that are too big, spend too much time in leasure. Compare to the existence of ancient Hebrews, I really think we have much more in common with Solomon–the harem notwithstanding. And I think his refrain is not a bad one.
This book is also honest in that it, like Job, recognizes that bad things do happen to good people. It also provided important cultural language such as dust to dust and the lyrics for a Byrds song. On, and his catch phrase for things that are meaningless is that it is like chasing the wind, hence, the post title. Also like Job, this book is encapsulated in prose that sort of explain what is going on. These words were likely added by editors, but not NIV editors. Rather, ancient editors.