Ecclesiastes 9:4 Anyone who is among the living has hope –even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
Solomon’s cynicism really bothers me at times. He is to me one of the most tragic figures in the whole Bible, because he was given so much and threw it all away because of humanistic intellectual pride. He certainly had a powerful intellect and his writings do contain a lot of truth, but he benefitted essentially not at all from it. He had as much “creature comfort” as was possible in those days, with absolutely nothing being denied him. His mind enabled him to see the futility in all of that, but he failed to develop the personal relationship with his Creator that would have given meaning to it all. As a point of reference, the average American today has far more physical comfort than Solomon did, and the amount of knowledge that is instantly available to us on our cell phones totally dwarfs the entire volume of knowledge that was available in his day, not to mention what he knew personally. He indeed had more gold, jewels, and the like than we could imagine, but all of that together couldn’t have purchased what we take for granted. This particular verse of his is well known, and has been used by some as an excuse to run away from battle or other danger. The problem with it is that Solomon’s concept of “life” was limited to the physical, as is clear throughout this chapter and indeed, throughout all of Solomon’s writings. Someone who dies physically in a right relationship with his Creator, at whatever age, is far better off, and has far more hope, than someone who lives past 100 who doesn’t have such a relationship.
Naturally this applies to me. I’ve already outlived my father by over nine years, but “length of days” seems increasingly less important to me. I am “among the living” not because my heart is beating, but because I know and trust in my living Lord. When this physical life is over that will be a minor bump in my existence, because I already have eternal life. My intellect has presented me with some of the same temptations to which Solomon succumbed, and I am deeply grateful that the Lord has enabled me to avoid some and get over others. I do desire that others join me in the hope that I have, but I can’t force them to believe and accept it. However, I can speak the truth in love, and that is what I want to do consistently, for as long as the Lord leaves me here.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I still get tied up in temporal things all too often. Help me indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in the hope that I have in Christ, so that others may see that hope and desire and receive it for themselves, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!