As our minds turn to gratitude with the approach of Thanksgiving, we would like to share an encouraging excerpt from our newest devotional—Meaning for Your Labor: A Daily Devotional from the Book of Ecclesiastes.
The Pleasure Test
I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.’ But behold, this also was vanity" (Eccles. 2:1, ESV).
Solomon will conduct an experiment. Is the meaning of life found in the pleasure of material possessions? A medieval Jewish commentator called Rashi answers in the negative, presenting King Belshazzar and the people of Noah’s day as examples. Belshazzar enjoyed a lavish feast, yet in the midst of it God showed him a message of doom handwritten on the wall (see Dan. 5). In Noah’s time, people were “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,” yet they were wiped out by a catastrophic worldwide flood (see Matt. 24:38–39). In these two examples, pleasure was replaced by divine wrath in an instant.
Solomon reports that his experiment in pleasure was meaningless. That’s not to say that material pleasure is bad. In fact, Solomon will later command us to enjoy pleasurable pastimes like eating and drinking (see Eccles. 9:7). But there is only one joy that can fulfill us forever. We can experience this pleasure regardless of the world’s abundance.
How can we have this joy? By serving God. Elsewhere in Scripture, this same word for “pleasure” is translated as “joyfulness,” and it is used to describe Israel’s potential service for the Lord. Under His covenant, God would bless His people with prosperity, and they would serve the Lord their God “with joyfulness and gladness of heart” (Deut. 28:47). We, too, can joyfully serve the Lord. With gratitude and love, it’s a pleasure. Our hearts can be glad as we honor our God at home, school, work, and church because we know He has blessed us with salvation, joy, hope, and more.
Take pleasure in serving God.
If you would like to read more devotional entries like this, order Meaning for Your Labor from our website.