Go, eat your bread with pleasure, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already accepted your works. Let your clothes be white all the time, and never let oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life, which has been given to you under the sun, all your fleeting days. For that is your portion in life and in your struggle under the sun. Whatever your hands find to do, do with [all] your strength, because there is no work, planning, knowledge, or wisdom in Â Sheol where you are going. Eccl 9:7-10 (HCSB)
Sheol to the Hebrews, especially in Solomon’s days, was a common place for the dead – the wicked and the righteous. God was Lord over the dead there as well and bodies could be ransomed out of the desolation of the grave. It was conceived as the holding place for the dead – a place of darkness and nothingness. Therefore, in the context of Solomon’s thoughts here, you are encouraged to realize that God knows your heart, as well as all of your actions and attitude, and your future destiny has been determined. From that perspective Solomon says rejoice now in this life time. Celebrate in your present days, which are but a few in the prospect of your eternal destiny. You are either celebrating for the joy of being ransomed by God into His paradise – His presence, or condemned to eternal darkness or separation from God. Either way, celebration now of your life has a practical purpose.
Solomon says to take joy in your marriage, your family, and even in your career. Take nothing for granted and embrace every opportunity to enjoy life’s pleasures. This is not a hedonistic pleasure principle but a principle of not wasting the gift of life in the present because no one knows when life will come to an end. Likewise, your destiny is in God’s hands, whether for good or bad.
Of course, there is now hope for our eternal destination that Solomon did not understand. Solomon’s advice today would suit anyone not believing in Christ’s message of hope. Since the days of Jesus, mankind has learned that God’s love is so great that He has revealed that God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word offers eternal life in His heaven to all who surrender their present lives to Christ’s lordship. We now have a Savior – the Messiah promised in scriptures that Solomon did not understand has been revealed – and He was born as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem and grew among us, lived the ideal life, and taught us that God desires all to be saved. This same Jesus even paid the debt for our sin that allows all to claim His sacrifice on the Cross as the ransom for their soul beyond the grave. Sheol in the present tense has no hold on us any longer; we have immediate presence before God the Father through the works and word of Christ, the Son of God.
With Christ as our Savior, as Solomon suggested, we certainly do have a good reason to celebrate life now to the fullest, enjoying it to the fullest in the light of His ways, truth and life that we can understand in His Word. Was Solomon saved? I don’t know, but you can know about your destiny – it can be secured in Christ. Just call upon Him and make a commitment to live your life in the light of His Word.
This [Jesus] is The stone despised by you builders, who has become the cornerstone. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved. Acts 4:11-12 (HCSB)