Ecclesiastes 2:12–17 (NKJV)
12 Then I turned myself to consider wisdom and madness and folly;
For what can the man do who succeeds the king?—
Only what he has already done.
13 Then I saw that wisdom excels folly
As light excels darkness.
14 The wise man’s eyes are in his head,
But the fool walks in darkness.
Yet I myself perceived
That the same event happens to them all.
15 So I said in my heart,
“As it happens to the fool,
It also happens to me,
And why was I then more wise?”
Then I said in my heart,
“This also is vanity.”
16 For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever,
Since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come.
And how does a wise man die?
As the fool!
17 Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.
In this passage, Solomon turns his attention to a comparison of wisdom, madness, and folly. Solomon was obviously known as the wisest man of his era. His wisdom surpassed all the kings, queens, and wise men of the day. He presupposed that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness. The wise man sees clearly while the fool stumbles in the darkness. Yet, the same end comes to all men, wise and foolish. It appears that the writer speaks of sorrows and loss, and especially of death. We all meet the same plight, and the wise is not remembered any more so than the fool. They both die, they are both forgotten. Verse 17 gives Solomon’s response to this unfair and unrewarding truth: he hated life and was distressed.
Does the boss’s pet always get the promotion? Are you better than the guy who got employee of the month? Did the raise equal the raise the slacker got this year? Are you tired of trying so hard, being so diligent, caring so much, and yet you never get ahead? Welcome to the reality of living in a sin-cursed world! Don’t you feel encouraged, now? How can a Christian be happy in this world? By understanding that you have been redeemed. The work you do is not futile or useless. It is building up an eternal reward in heaven. The work you do is for the Lord, the Creator, the Redeemer. Therefore, the work is worth it. Do all you do for Him and the futility is not an overwhelming dark force. Instead, the light of His love and the satisfaction of pleasing the King will lift your spirits and encourage you to do more for His glory!