January 22, 2014| 0

How to Feed a Hungry Soul (Ecclesiastes 2:22-25)

22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. 24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?

When John D. Rockefeller was asked, “How much is enough?” he answered, “Just a little bit more.”[1] That’s the answer of a hungry soul, a soul that will never be satisfied, because “just a little bit more” is never enough. “Just a little bit more” is a recipe for heartburn and restless nights. The writer of Ecclesiastes ought to know; this book was reputedly written by King Solomon, the richest, most powerful man on earth.

Solomon discovered that no amount of toil or riches could bring meaning to his life. He learned that riches cannot satisfy the longing of the human heart. And yet he says work (toil) should bring enjoyment, being from the hand of God.

How so? What turns the hardship of work into a blessing? The answer is given in verse 24—work is mentioned in the same breath with eating and drinking. Like food and drink, work is nourishment. Work is enjoyable when it’s good for the soul. It’s soul-food. This soul-nourishing aspect of work becomes clearer when we give a more literal translation of the Hebrew text —

“There’s nothing better for a person than to eat and drink, and to see that his work does his soul good—this also I see is from the hand of God.” [verse 24]

Work does a soul good. That’s the point. It doesn’t mean that the work is easy, or fun, or carefree. No. But it does mean that healthy work is good for the soul. Work done for the sake of living a godly life is a gift, and it nourishes the soul just as healthy food and drink nourish the body.

This brings a profound understanding to the meaning of all kinds of work—not only physical labor, but business and finance as well. A satisfied body enjoys food and drink, and is filled. Likewise, a satisfied soul is one blessed with good work to do. A well-fed soul does not need to strive unceasingly for “just a little bit more.” Solomon’s wisdom here is the right answer to, “How much is enough?”


[1] As told by John C. Bogle, Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life. (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2009), p. 238.

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© Bruce D. Baker, 2014

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