Living Life on Purpose.

It's important to understand the God of wisdom before trying to understand practical living. Ecclesiastes has much to say about who God is.

Wise Sovereign

Without knowing the reality of God's sovereignty, we will despair at the circumstances of life. Providence assures us there is a reason for everything, even if only God knows (Ecclesiastes 3:14).

Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 lists seasons of life that we all experience. Everything from our first breath to our last is in His hands. Each individual circumstance is determined by Him. We can trust Him through it all.

Righteous people should find satisfaction in enjoying and experiencing life (Ecclesiastes 9:9). Our circumstances are gifts from God for His glory and our good, whether in the domestic or vocational or any other realm (Ecclesiastes 2:26, 7:14).

Perfect Judge

Tragic events cause us to ask, Where is God's justice in the world? Often it seems like the opposite of justice is happening. Solomon felt this way too (Ecclesiastes 3:16, 12:14). Be assured that God's justice is comprehensive and perfect. There are no mistakes in His judgment. It is certain (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10, Hebrews 9:27).

Every person must apply this truth to their own life. Solomon urges youth especially to live life to the fullest, while avoiding sin, with the knowledge that we will be judged. We are able to live fully without fear when we are living by God's Word (1 John 4:18). True happiness and contentment is only possible with eternity in mind.

Because judgement is imminent, wrong is short-lived (1 John 2:17). Justice will come to the world (Ecclesiastes 8:11-13).

Supreme Reality

Michael Barrett notes that man's inability to fully know is a prominent theme of the book of Ecclesiastes. Whether asking questions about life or about the future, Solomon emphasizes seven times in the book that man has an inability to fully know. (See Ecclesiastes 6:12, 9:1, 9:10, 9:12, 10:14, 11:2, and 11:6.) The inability to fully know should bring us peace, not unrest, because God does. Barrett says, "Solomon has found out for himself that trying to figure out at times what God is doing all around us can be useless, because the thousands of details and whys are endless, and life is too short for that. His remedy is to keep living and fearing God (Ecclesiastes 12:8)."

Fearing God means trusting Him with everything uncertain in our lives. Things that defy explanation are themselves evidence of the Lord who made them that way. Complexity is designed to draw us to Him (Ecclesiastes 3:14). A healthy faith rests in the fact that God does all things well. This will help us worship (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7).

Fearing God is our defense for God's judgment. Eternity is much more important than our temporal life circumstances. To fear God is to know Him and want to know His mind (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10). It is the only thing that will do a person good in life and even more so in death.

Charles Swindoll said, "Ecclesiastes shows us a man who lived through his process of life and came out on the other side with a wiser, more seasoned perspective. When we're surrounded by the temptation to proclaim life's ultimate emptiness, we can find in Ecclesiastes a vision tempered by experience and ultimately seen through divinely-colored lenses. Life is destined to remain unsatisfying apart from the recognition of God's supreme intervention. It only remains to be seen whether or not we will place our trust in His sure and able hands."

When life is confusing, we cannot live alone. We need God, His Word, and each other (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). Solomon urges us to pursue life together with faithful people.

A.W. Tozer wrote, "The man who comes to a right belief about God is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems, for he sees at once that these have to do with matters that at the most cannot concern him very long; but even if the multiple burdens of time may be lifted from him, the one mighty single burden of eternity begins to press down upon him with a weight more crushing than all the woes of the world piled one upon another. That mighty burden is his obligation to God. It includes an instant and lifelong duty to love God with every power of mind and soul, to obey Him perfectly, and to worship Him acceptably."

In order to trust God, we must know Him through His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 2:14). Without this relational knowledge, the complex wisdom in Ecclesiastes will seem foolish.

Application Points

  • What circumstances has God gifted to you? Whether in the domestic or vocational or any other realm, He is working all things for His glory and your good. Here's one example: God may intend for you to be in a job you don't like for eternal reasons. 1 Peter 2:18-20 says there is glory to be found in working for a bad boss. Enjoy the fact that you are obeying God's command to work (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, 1 Timothy 5:8).
  • His sovereignty can be the hardest truth about God to accept. When faced by circumstances we don't like, we want to take things into our own hands and make a better way. It takes a lot to trust that God has orchestrated events so you can delight in Him. Work at this mindset and find a friend to help remind you!
  • In order to trust God, we must know Him through His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 2:14). Without this relational knowledge, the complex wisdom in Ecclesiastes will seem foolish. Do you know Him?

Tools for Further Study

A Hymn to Encourage: "O Worship the King"

O worship the King, all glorious above,
And gratefully sing His wonderful love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space;
His chariots of wrath the deep thunder-clouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender! how firm to the end!
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend.