Why women should read Ecclesiastes?
Women dream of living in security, which the world defines in terms of pleasure, possessions, and people. The titles of magazines marketed specifically to women reveal the things to which women give their time, attention, and energies in pursuit of deep and lasting satisfaction and a sense of self-worth.
Advertising targets women by appealing to their efforts to be beautiful, to have the best of everything (at least vicariously), to perfect their relationships and image. The book of Ecclesiastes counters the deceptive message that any of these things—anything but a right relationship with God—will make you happy. Rather, the book affirms that the Lord wants you to enjoy life, temporal and fleeting though it is, by adopting His eternal perspective, recognizing the difference between what does not last (all that is “done under the sun”, 1:14) and what is of truly lasting value (being a woman “who is pleasing in God’s sight,” 2:26).
Biblical Womanhood: Antidote for Worry
Women are constantly bombarded with temptations to worry. Ecclesiastes 11:7–12:1 does not specifically mention worry, but the Teacher commends an outlook on life that can serve as an antidote: • Life is good (v. 7). The Teacher affirms that it is pleasing . . . to see the sun, a reference to the goodness of simply being alive (11:7; cp. 6:59:4-6). He calls both young (11:9) and old (v. 8) to rejoice (Hb samach, “be glad”), a verb enlisting active celebration. Worry is not compatible with the attitude of embracing the inherent goodness of life as God’s good gift. Doing something that outwardly demonstrates the truth that life itself is good leaves little room for anxiety about how a moment, day, or year will turn out.
• Life includes dark days (v. 8). Life is good despite the days of adversity (12:1) that everyone experiences. You cannot worry them away. Do remember the days of darkness—whether past, present, or future and whether in your life or the lives of others—not as catalysts for worrying but as contrasts enhancing recognition of the inherent goodness of life itself. Worry competes with faith in God’s ability to redeem any situation for good (Rm 8:28), with trust in God’s faithfulness, and with hope in His promise to render justice in the end (Ec 11:9).
• Life is short (v. 10). Here, as throughout the book, the Teacher points out the fleeting nature of life and its futility not to incite readers to recoil from life in fear and dread but to recognize that it has meaning only from the Creator’s perspective. Whatever threatens to cut life short invites worry. The woman who has addressed the inevitability of death and the aging process (see chap. 12) is better equipped to face with confidence whatever life brings. Discernment between what has eternal value and what does not last can dispel many worries and yield more fruitful investment of mental and emotional energy in God’s priorities.
• Judgment is certain and belongs to God alone (11:9). Essentially, worry is an effort to control what belongs solely to God’s control. No amount of worry can change or undo the past. What you can do is to live obediently in the present—bringing your past into the light of God’s Word, exercising forgiveness, and both extending and accepting His healing. You cannot, by worrying, determine the future. What you can do is to live obediently in the present— especially praying fervently and sharing the gospel so that both the present life and eternal destination of others can be changed. Only God knows the future. Apart from the glimpses He has revealed in His Word and the certainty of the promises He has made, no one is privy to the future. Worrying changes nothing but your health in this earthly life “under the sun.” Regarding issues of justice and inexplicable evil, Scripture makes clear that although God does not always intervene or make things right in ways you can see or in your timing, He does hold everyone accountable (Rm 14:10-12; 2Co 5:10; Heb 9:27).
Approaching life with an outlook marked by these four truths fits the challenge of Ec 11:1-6 to live soberly, recognizing that “you don’t know” what God knows. It also fortifies your heart against the constant temptation to fear (i.e., worry about) everything but God (cp. 12:13- 14; Biblical Womanhood, p. 827).