Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 ESV).
Ecclesiastes was written specially to appeal to young people who are well-off, to teach them truth about both God as Creator and the sad realities of life (death, evil, randomness), to show how to live wisely in light of those realities.
The author repeats several themes, including “vanity,” “profit,” and “gift.” This passage focuses on what is profitable and good, and it is based on the reality of what God’s gift is.
Let me know your thoughts, readers, of how I phrased the subject and predicate of verse 18, as well as verse 19! These verses were quite tricky.
I found it challenging to decided whether to relate 19i to an anchor phrase, or the other way round, since “this” restates everything in 19a-h. So a Support by Restatement relationship was necessary. I chose to relate 19a-g to 19i because the emphasis seemed to be on the fact that 19a-g is God’s gift.
I chose Manner for 20d because Means didn’t seem fitting, because I didn’t think the verse was saying that God keeps him occupied by means of joy. Rather, the verse is saying that God keeps people joyfully busy in their lives - thus Manner.
The “for” in verse 20 is tricky as well. When memorizing these verses, I gave thought to the relationship here, because Ground, the obvious immediate choice, didn’t make sense. I would say that the Preacher is saying, "What I mean by enjoying your life, your “lot,” is that God will ensure that you have continual joy throughout your life. See also 2:24-26.
Enjoying food and drink and fun with family etc. is good! It pleases God! See also 9:7-9.
I should worship God as the great gift-giver (see also James 1:17).
I should stop trying to “seize the day” and grab pleasures and rest in everything being God’s good gift to me. Life is fundamentally a gift.
I should rest in God’s provision during this season of my life, trusting that God will give me joy as I seek to please him and do his will.