Expectant Mother's Bible Companion
Author: Solomon (though some doubt this now)
Audience: The People of Israel
Ecclesiastes honestly deals with the reality that life is often disappointing. We get so much wrapped up in our expectations, that the actual events and items we have longed for can't possibly meet our desires. Deeper still is the truth that without God in the center, everything is meaningless.
The idea of motherhood may bring tears of joy to your face, or it may make you tremble with fear. Either way, the never-ending and sometimes difficult work of parenting a newborn probably won't feel very rewarding for several weeks, or months. The promise of a little bundle of joy is empty, and you will not be satisfied without God.
We all struggle with feelings and longings that if we can just get this one more thing, then we will be happy. The message of Ecclesiastes is that we should not fall for that lie. Nothing apart from God can ever fill the emptiness you may feel. But with God, you can enjoy you life and the blessings he gives you.
Rather than see Ecclesiastes as a negative commentary about life on earth, read it as a reminder that without God your life will be empty. Ecclesiastes calls us to keep reaching for the eternally significant, since that is all that will ever satisfy.
Time for Everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-14)
Solomon lists his seasons of life in this often quoted passage. Sometimes we get so caught up in the "when" of everything. We want it done now, as if it were all a part of some great checklist that we needed to complete before we could relax. After he demonstrates the temporal nature of our lives, he comments that along with all these temporary "things" to do, God has placed on our hearts eternity.
Solomon urges us to slow down, saying everything is beautiful in its time. He goes on to say everything God does will endure. Nothing I do can be added to it and nothing will be taken from it. I don't need to hurry my life, I just need to enjoy the work God has given me today.
This is a bittersweet message for an expectant mom who may wish her time of labor would just come; a mom in labor who wishes the time of labor would end; a mother of a young child who wishes the time to sleep through the night would begin.
The Stillborn (Ecclesiastes 6:3-6)
It seems insensitive of Solomon to compare a stillborn child with a man who cannot enjoy his prosperity. Solomon recognizes value in the rest and peace received early by a stillborn child - without the toil and struggles of life on earth. We see at the beginning of chapter seven he again places great value on the peace received at death.
However, if you are a person who loves a stillborn child, even the promise of peace and rest are little comfort to the pain and loss felt. And as the mother of a stillborn child, how could you ever accept your child's death as the best blessing he could have received? Solomon struggles through similar issues throughout this book. Why does a good man die while a wicked man lives a long life? Why does it matter if I serve God if we all just die in the end?
Solomon is honest in his observation that life isn't fair. But he is also accurate in his final conclusion that God will judge everything in the end. The only solution offered is to fear God and serve him. We may not get answers in this life, but we must continue to serve God.
Job - Not understanding God's Plan
Questions for Reflection:
1. Verse 11:5 uses the image of the baby growing in the womb as an example of how we do not understand the work of God. With today's technology we have learned much about the development of a baby, we can even "make" a baby and place it in a womb to grow. Why do you think this analogy is or is not still accurate?
2. Verse 5:15 says that we bring nothing with us into the world, and we take nothing with us when we leave. We may not be born with things we can carry in our hands, but what things are we born with?