Ecclesiastes 3:9–15 (NKJV)
9 What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? 10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.
14 I know that whatever God does,
It shall be forever.
Nothing can be added to it,
And nothing taken from it.
God does it, that men should fear before Him.
15 That which is has already been,
And what is to be has already been;
And God requires an account of what is past.
Again, Solomon asks the question about labor and whether it is useful. “What profit…?” begins the sentence and shows that Solomon has questions about whether it is even worth working. This is a further example of Solomon’s fear of futility. However, as in other instances, Solomon does turn it around a bit to create a learning opportunity. He says he has seen the task of man. It is a God-given task, and God makes it beautiful. What God does in and through us is beyond our ability to understand and discover, yet when God has done it, we see its beauty and eternity. Therefore, there is nothing better than for people to rejoice, do good, and enjoy the fruit of his labor. This is the gift of God to mankind. Solomon sums up the thought with the affirmation that what God does lasts forever, and is unchangeable. He is worthy of fear and reverence, and requires an account of the actions of humanity. What is happening has happened before, and what will happen has happened before.
Solomon jumps back and forth between thoughts of futility and thoughts of blessing. Some may say that he simply is showing two sides of the coin that is life. On the one hand, one works and labors and toils and still does not seem to get ahead. Then you die and someone else gets your stuff. The other side of the coin is that God blesses you with the energy and skill to work, and one has the opportunity to enjoy the fruit of that labor while he or she lives. Either way, life is short, fleeting, and passes quickly. Live it wisely, live it well, live it righteously.