This week, we’re going to consider Solomon’s search for meaning in the area of work. We’ll begin with his conclusion.
(Ecc 1:3) What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
(Ecc 2:11) Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.
(Ecc 2:22) For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? (23) For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.
(Ecc 3:9) What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? (10) I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
Gen 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
Mar 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
Work is Vexing and Vain
Solomon did all sorts of work, on a large scale. His evaluation was that work is vexing and vain. Vexation refers to the frustrations, setbacks and disappointments that are always part of the working world. Beyond that, it refers to the emptiness of it all when you’re done. From a strictly human point of view, he didn’t see any advantage to his labor. To him, it was a zero sum game that used up lots of energy.
The Dignity of Work
Solomon’s view of work doesn’t line up with other Bible passages. To begin with, God created Adam and placed him in the garden with a job to do. Work was a part of God plan for man, even before Adam sinned. The curse made the work harder, but God always intended man to work on the Earth.
God’s Son spent over a decade doing manual labor. It’s hard to imgine the Son of God coming to Earth and wasting His time. His example is a reminder that work is not empty and meaningless.
What About You?
- Do you see work as vexing and vain, like Solomon did?
- Or do you see the dignity of work as a God-ordained responsibility?