Eat, drink, and get a fun job
The Scholar’s take on fun1I posed arguments to myself. I said, “Let’s have some fun and make a study of it.” But I decided that’s a waste of time. 2I also decided that laughing is insane. And having fun makes no sense.
Cheers, the study of drinking too much3I decided to drink a lot of wine and make bad decisions—as part of a scholarly study. I wanted to know the best way to spend the short time we have in life: as the rascals or the righteous.
4I created a wonderful life for myself. I built myself houses and I planted vineyards in my fields. 5I grew beautiful gardens in parks that I sheltered in the shade of fruit trees. 6I dug pools to irrigate orchards and groves.
7I bought men and woman as slaves, and added their children born later as my slaves. I owned massive herds and flocks—more than anyone in the history of Jerusalem.
8I collected silver and gold in taxes and revenue from kings and from foreign provinces under my control. I hired musicians—men and women. And, my oh my, did I have a good time with the ladies. And there were a lot of them, the delightful concubines in my harem.
The study of taking what you want9I had more of everything than anyone in the history of Jerusalem. Yet after all my reckless living, I was just as wise as ever.
10Whatever I saw and wanted, I took. I ignored boundaries and I gave myself permission to enjoy my achievements. After all my hard work, I told myself I deserved to get whatever I wanted.
11But I thought about that afterward. And I reached the conclusion that all I did was feed my vanity. Nothing I did made a difference in the rising and the setting of the ancient sun. I might as well have chased the wind.
Study of the wise and the worst12So, I took a different approach. I thought about what it’s like for a new king to build on the work of earlier kings. I thought about wise kings and other kings dumber than a bag of fools. 13That’s when I confirmed wisdom is greater than foolishness—just as light eats darkness for breakfast.
14Wise people have good eyesight.
Fools stumble in the dark. On the other hand, the wise and the fools end up at the same place.
15So, I thought, “Well, rats, what happens to the fool is going to happen to me. Why then did I bother working so hard at getting so doggone wise?” I decided I had done nothing but feed my vanity and chase the wind.
16People in ages to come won’t remember the wise any more than they’ll remember the fools. Everything ends up forgotten. It’s sad, but the wise and the fools all end up dead.
”I hate my life”17So, I developed a hatred about life. Human life is a hard reality—a rough place to exist. Yet the only reward we get for all we accomplish is what a fool would get for chasing the wind.
18I came to hate my job. Why shouldn’t I? Everything I create, acquire, and save will go to the king who comes after me. 19Who knows if the king’s head will be full of wisdom or vacant. Whatever he is, he’ll become the chief officer of everything I ever worked for. What a throat-choking waste of my life.
20That depressed me—the stinking thought of everything I worked for suddenly getting dropped like a gift into someone else’s lap. 21It’s a fact. Sometimes people work hard to learn the facts and to understand what’s happening. But what they gain through their discoveries eventually goes to others who didn’t do anything to earn it. What a rotten program. It’s wickedly wrong. And it’s a waste of humanity.
22What do mere humans get for all their busy-bee work in the searing sun? 23Sunburn. They get pain. They get worries. And they get sleepless nights to endure it. What an aching waste.
Bottom line: get a fun job24Bottom line: The best way to spend a life on this plug of ground is to eat and drink—and to find a job you enjoy. All three, I concluded, are gifts from God. 25No one enjoys life and good food more than I do.
26If we stay on God’s good side, he’ll reward us with knowledge, wisdom, and joy. If we don’t, we get a heaping helping of hard work. And the fruit that comes of it, we get to pass along to people on good terms with God. What a waste. Like trying to catch and bag the wind.
The Hebrew word can mean any one of several things: wives, concubines, harem of women. Solomon married 700 wives and 300 concubines. Concubines were women who lived with a man in a legally binding relationship as secondary wives, but who had less social status and fewer perks than a wife (1 Kings 11:3). Sadly, the women led “wise” Solomon into worshiping their gods. Israel’s faithful king died sour as sin and apparently too ignorant to know it (1 Kings 11:4-6).
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