Enjoy Life and Fear God
Ecclesiastes 11:7 Truly the light is sweet, And it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun; 8 But if a man lives many years And rejoices in them all, Yet let him remember the days of darkness, For they will be many. All that is coming is vanity. 9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. 10 Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, And put away evil from your flesh, For childhood and youth are vanity. (NKJV)
King Solomon, son of David, wrote the book of Ecclesiastes late in his life. As a young man of nineteen, he asked God for wisdom and God made him the wisest man in the world.
A major theme in the book of Ecclesiastes is to enjoy life and fear God. The two may seem opposites to some, however they are compatible within the Christian life.
The days of “light”, our youth, are “sweet” (v. 7a). When we have youth “it is pleasant” to live life under the “sun”, in this world (v. 7b). Young people have their own challenges, but they do not typically have the challenges of the elderly. Physically they are usually able to do so much more and enjoy life under the sun.
It is good to live “many years” rejoicing in our youth (v. 8a). It is good to enjoy life, to enjoy every stage of life from childhood to youth to middle age and on.
But let us “remember” that there will be “many days” of “darkness” to come as we enter old age. This is all the more reason for us to enjoy the youth of our lives. “All that is coming”, our old age, “is vanity”, meaninglessness caused by hardship and health challenges (v. 8b).
Solomon exhorts us to “rejoice” in our “youth”, to let our hearts “cheer” us “in the days” of our “youth” (v. 9a). Solomon writes to “Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes” (v. 9b). In other words, we are to rejoice in life as we live life according to the desires of our heart and all that we experience in our youth.
However, there is a caveat to Solomon’s exhortation: “God will bring” us “into judgment” for our sinful actions (v. 9b). We should fear God. There are limits as we live out our youth. There are consequences to pay for our actions. There are consequences when we sin. Some consequences are temporal as we do damage to our bodies or our reputations. Other consequences are eternal as we sin against God.
In conclusion, Solomon writes to “remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh” (v. 10a). In other words, we are to be happy and resist sin. We are to enjoy life and fear God. Our “childhood and youth” are “vanity”, they are short (v. 10b).
Time passes all too quickly. One moment we are a child lying in fresh cut green grass without a care in the world as we envision cloud animals in the sky. The next moment we are old, wondering where all the time went. Life is short, very short. It passes like a vapor passes in the wind.
So enjoy your life while you can. But remember to always try to live a life that pleases God. “Enjoy life and fear God”, important words to remember from the pen of the wisest man in the world while under the inspiration of God.
Online Bible Commentary