Like Job, Ecclesiastes contains a distinctly counterculture theme. Also like Job, it in no ways advocates abandoning God. To the contrary, Ecclesiastes is very pro-establishment. Chapter 5 begins, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.” Chapter 8’s second verse is, “Obey the king’s command, I say, because you took an oath before God.”
Still, the author isn’t happy about it. Famously so. Consider how quotable it is.
- “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
- The sun rises and the sun sets,
- chasing after the wind.
And who can forget
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Less quoted is the advice to diversify your investments. Literally.