Thursday, 11 October 2012

Ecclesiastes Essay part 5

Answering pessimism with optimism
Qohelet refutes his pessimism with optimism. Joy and satisfaction in the simple circumstances, acts and relationships of life are observed to be ‘good’ (5:18) and commendable (8:15), despite the burden of labour and the brevity of life. Qohelet neutralizes the fleeting nature of life with his observation of the one thing that endures (3:12-14):
‘That each of them may … find satisfaction … this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever … God does it so that people will fear him.’
Joy is not fleeting, but everlasting, because it is given by an enduring act of God. The number of references to joy in Ecclesiastes is fewer than the instances of hebel. However, for every pessimistic observation, Qohelet indentifies an optimistic rebuttal. Life may be fleeting, but joy endures. Labour may appear futile, but God’s approval grants the experience of joy and his judgment ensures eternal reward, encouraging us to fear God.

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