Monday, February 12, 2018

What profit? - Ecclesiastes 1:3

 3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

This verse provides a clue to interpretation of the book. The phrase “under the sun” tells us Solomon is not thinking in terms of an eternal perspective at this point. Everything “under the sun” is what we do on this earth, in this life. Solomon is considering life as if his was all there was. What profit is there in all our work, if this is all there is?

There is profit to our labor. Beside the financial purposes and the ability to provide, there are mental benefits with having work to do and accomplishing the job you set out to accomplish. There is profit for those you serve in your work and the general common good of the community. But there is not satisfaction to the soul. As the saying goes, no one on their deathbed wishes they spent more time at the office. What profit does all our work count for if we die and leave it all behind to be forgotten?

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Ozymandias By Percy Bysshe Shelley

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