The old chiche' of the certainty of death and taxes still holds true. The current state of our nation is clearly displaying the reality of the latter - "taxes"- and Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 9, has been reminding us of the inevitability of the former - "death".
In verse 3 of this chapter he bluntly tells us that "there is one fate for all men...they go to the dead." The writer of the book of Hebrews phrased it like this: "it is appointed for men to die and then to face the judgment."
Death, since the fall, is a reality we all will face. No exceptions!
Knowing that we will die, Solomon hopes to challenge us regarding how we will live. We KNOW we will die - so what are we doing in the meantime and what are we doing to prepare for that day?
The preacher king reminds us that while there is life, there is hope - hope for salvation, hope for reconciliation, hope for LIFE not merely under the sun but above it as well. He poetically points us to the truth that it is while we are living that choices can be made and that once we are dead it is too late to make them.
The admonition is simple. Our limited days under the sun are the only times where we can prepare for our eternal days elsewhere. What happens here - while we are joined with the living and are granted free opportunities at loving God, hating sin, and zealously pursuing truth - lays the foundation for what will happen "there" (in our eternal destination).
"For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten. Indeed their love, their hate, and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun." (vs 4-6)
At the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, the wise preacher will point us to the ultimate goal and purpose of life under the sun. He will share with us these words: "The conclusion, when all has been heard is: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all men."
That is the ultimate starting point which leads to the practical living point. Fearing God is the beginning of wisdom - including the beginning of the wisdom that leads to living well.
Do you long to live well in this life? Solomon - the king who tried it all, tested everything, and grabbed all the gusto he could get - tells us how to. He says live to God and live well for God!
"Go then, eat your bread in happiness, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart.... Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun.... Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it will all your might...."
Bottom line - Christian - make the best of the life that has been given you under the sun. Love your God and your family and your friends to the fullest. Enjoy them. Cherish them. Savor them. Serve them. As you do, be sure to keep a clean conscience ("let your clothes be white all the time") in all of your actions towards them. Serve the Lord and serve others with gladness. Live joyfully amidst the gifts that God has given you. And, by grace, do your duty with all of your might.
The days of this life are "fleeting." They are but a blip. Live them fully. Live them freely. Live them fervently. Live them faithfully.
I don't know about you, but I probably have some life re-evaluating to do. What kind of Christian am I? What kind of wife and mom and friend am I? Am I heeding Solomon's counsel or am I hoarding my own?
Longing to live well,
[By the way, here's a link to the story of Zac Smith (33) who died this past Sunday from cancer. He was a Christian, a husband, a father, and a friend. He says that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to him because God used it to teach him these very lessons from Ecclesiastes 9. Enjoy, be convicted, be challenged and be changed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4Qb1qdXn4o]