We all know that people worldwide face a great deal of sadness and injustice. The recent round of sexual harassment scandals is a severe reminder that women have historically faced the threat of violation at the hands of men. These events have reaffirmed Solomon’s words that “on the side of their oppressors was power” (Ecclesiastes 4:1). Men, especially the rich and powerful, often get away with their abuses. So once again, Ecclesiastes paints a picture of great sadness that, if nothing else, we must admit is brutally honest.
However, once again we find some hope in these verses, particularly for those who find friendship; friends will have help in times of trouble and strength against opposition (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). If we were to summarize how to enjoy this life under the sun according to Solomon, we should eat and drink with friends and enjoy our work because it is a gift of God.
Bleak as Ecclesiastes might be, it helps us to consider what truly matters so that we might turn away from vain pursuits. Such is wisdom, and such is why Ecclesiastes, harsh it can sound, is part of God’s wisdom literature.