THE WORD: Wealth doesn’t satisfy

PHOTO CAPTION: “Mammon” by George Frederic Watts (1885) is a painting in the collection of Tate Britain, London, England (Public Domain).

The fourth chapter of Ecclesiastes ended with a recommendation by the teacher that companionship and fellowship with God provide meaning in the lives of people. The fifth chapter of Solomon’s examination of the meaning of life is commentary on the futility of wealth.

Ecclesiastes provides an early basis for Matthew 6:24, where Christians are told they cannot serve two masters — one cannot serve God and money. Solomon speaks of the futility of wealth as it relates to meaning. In modern times, there are many tales of celebrities, professional athletes and wealthy people who are consumed by the costs of their entourage. Solomon shows this predicament is not new. He says that when goods increase, there always appear more people to consume them.

The pursuit of wealth and the accumulation of possessions are vanities the Ecclesiastical teacher warns us against. But the chapter ends with a focus on the joys that God provides us during life. Whether we are rich or poor, powerful or downtrodden, when we appreciate what God has given us, we don’t dwell on the sorrows we’ve experienced or the brevity of our earthly existence.

Ecclesiastes 5:10-11

10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. 11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?