Ecclesiastes 11:7-10

Ecclesiastes 11:7-10

7 The light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.
8 For if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in all of them!
Let him remember that the days of the darkness will be many—all that is coming is vanity!
9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth!
Follow the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes—but know that God will bring you into judgment for all these things.
10 Banish anxiety from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and vigor are vanity.

It is interesting to consider the various titles given to these four verses in different translations: Youth and Old Age in the NRSV, Enjoy Life to the Fullest within the Auspices of the Fear of God in the LEB (above), Serve God While You Are Young in the EXB, and Remember Your Creator While Young in the NIV. All of them may be observed here along with their verses side by side.

While in most translations we find the word vanity in verses eight and ten above, many have meaningless or pointless or futile. None choose to use the vapor or mere breath, but choose to those described that have very judgmental meanings. Writing the above verses with mere breath for the Hebrew hevel (discussed on Friday’s, April 20th’s verse of the day ) we see something else.

7 The light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.
8 For if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in all of them!
Let him remember that the days of the darkness will be many—all that is coming is mere breath!
9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth!
Follow the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes—but know that God will bring you into judgment for all these things.
10 Banish anxiety from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and vigor are mere breath.

Maybe it is vanity or meaningless, but each breath counts and mankind’s first breath counted most of all.

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7 NIV

The writer of Ecclesiastes says to young men to let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth and further to Follow the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes with a great caution attached: know that God will bring you into judgment for all these things. In other words, go ahead and enjoy life, but do not forget your Creator while choosing which actions to take. In addition, when looking at the last verse above, enjoy your youth as it will be over in a seemingly mere breath.

I know this. I am seventy years of age and some days I really know it. Other days, I feel like a young man, but I know I am not. My youth is certainly over, but I have a few breaths left and I grow more aware of my Creator every day. I wish I could say with every breath, but that would not be true. The dramas of this life while still meaningful, mean less and less and I know the truth of the author of Ecclesiastes, it will be as a mere breath when it is over. Still I remain incredibly blessed.