The Wisdom of Peace, Contentment and SimplicityFeb 01, 2023
Blog by Gem Fadling
It has been said that the book of Proverbs is wisdom for the first half of life and the book of Ecclesiastes is wisdom for the second half of life. An interesting idea.
I recently felt an invitation to re-read Ecclesiastes. I knew it talked about meaninglessness, but for some reason that felt like a welcome invitation. So I dug in. Today, I’d like to share what stood out to me as I read.
I remember reading Ecclesiastes for the first time many years ago. I could not get into it. How many times can you say “This too is meaningless”?! How depressing!
But now, having just turned 59 (yes, one more year to 60), Ecclesiastes felt more like a warm blanket than a cold shower. It’s interesting what a few more decades of life will do for your ability to glean from the wisdom of an old king.
I’m going to share a few verses and my musings on them. In a way, you’re getting a peek into my journal. These were my heartfelt and prayerful thoughts as I read through these verses. I hope you too will find some solace in this commonsense wisdom.
Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. (Eccles. 4:6)
Contentment. This is a big one for me. I can often feel myself reaching for the future and grasping for more. Can I get a little more shine on that please? Can you put a little extra sauce on that for me? Certainly this isn’t all there is. These are the thoughts that propel me to discontent. This verse says that having less with peace is better than having more with toil and meaninglessness. I agree. Come swiftly, contentment.
The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep. (Eccles. 5:12)
Simply doing my work for the day and being satisfied with what I have can lead to a more peaceful life, which in turn lends itself to sleep. The one who has more to manage has more opportunity for anxiety, stress, and overwhelm. This leads to restless sleep. I’d rather have good sleep.
Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. (Eccles. 6:9a)
And we’re back to contentment. What is in front of me, what I can see, what is—this is better for me because it is what is occurring. Roving means reaching for whatever “more” is. Dissatisfaction is never-ending with the roving eye. So see what is. Be content with what is.
This does not have to negate that aspect of me that is a visionary. They can coexist. Contentment is available to all. Paul said he had found the secret of being content with plenty and in want. I can look forward to the future with hope AND I can be content with today.
The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone? (Eccles. 6:11)
Jesus said to let our yes be yes and our no be no (Matt. 5:37). This is another invitation to fewer words. Don’t overexplain to anyone—even myself—or to God. Simple, authentic, meaningful talk. That’s what I want.
It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools. (Eccles. 7:5)
Foolishness can sound like a song, wooing and drawing me in. But a rebuke from a wise person is better than siren song. Yes, I’d rather have a rebuke from a wise person. I’d rather be on the path of wisdom than the road to foolishness.
So much good wisdom here. Sometimes I like to just cut to the chase. These days we hear so much blathering through all our social channels. It just feels good to hear crisp truth. I hope you found something for yourself here. Blessings to you.
Read the verses and reflect. Here they are for easy reference:
- Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. (Eccles. 4:6)
- The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep. (Eccles. 5:12)
- Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. (Eccles. 6:9a)
- The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone? (Eccles. 6:11)
- It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools. (Eccles. 7:5)
- Which insight do you need most today?
- How might it make a difference in your life?
Blessings to you as you make your way.
Photo by Charl Folscher on Unsplash