This also, I saw, is from the hand of God; for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? (Ecclesiastes 2:24b-25 RSV)
That is his second declaration, and that is the true message of this book. Enjoyment is a gift of God. There is nothing in possessions, in material goods, in money, there is nothing in man himself that can enable him to keep enjoying the things he does. But it is possible to have enjoyment all your life if you take it from the hand of God. It is given to those who please God. Verse 26:
For to the man who pleases him God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy; (Ecclesiastes 2:26a RSV)
Wisdom and knowledge have been mentioned before as things you can get from “under the sun,” but they will not continue. To have added to it the ingredient of pleasure, of continual delight going on and on, unceasing throughout the whole of life, you must take it from the hand of God. The man who pleases God is given the gift of joy.
It is wonderful to realize that this book — and the whole Bible — teaches us that God wants us to have joy. He gave us life that we might have joy. In his letter to Timothy, Paul said, “He gives us richly all things to enjoy.” It is God’s desire and intent that all the good things of life that are mentioned here should contribute to the enjoyment of man; but only, says this Searcher, if you understand that that enjoyment does not come from things or from people. It is an added gift of God, and only those who please God can find it.
How do you please God? In many places in Scripture we are told, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” It is faith that pleases him, belief that he is there and that everything in life comes from his hand. Underscore in your minds the word all. Pain, sorrow, bereavement, disappointment, as well as gladness, happiness and joy, all these things are a gift of God. When we see life in those terms then any and every element of life can have its measure of joy — even sorrow, pain, and grief. These things were given to us to enjoy. That is the message of this book.