In Ecclesiastes, Solomon repeatedly exhorts his readers to “eat, drink, and rejoice” as a response to the vaporousness of life”

“There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen, that it is from the hand of God” (2:24).

“I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one?s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor ?Eit is the gift of God” (3:12-13).

“Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one?s labor in which he toils under the sun during the years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward” (5:18).

Whiles these passages no doubt have a wider reference, the first reference is to the temple worship. “Eat, drink, and rejoice” is repeatedly used to describe what Israel does at the sanctuary (esp. in Deut 12; 14-16). Given that Solomon is the one writing, the temple would doubtless be prominent in his thinking, and would be see as the vantage point from which life could be assessed rightly (as in Psalm 37).

This has several implications: First, when we recognize that life is vapor, our response should be worship ?Enot merely hedonism. Second, insofar as these passages have wider reference to a festive lifestyle, they still center on the festivity of the temple. Temple worship is the place where we learn festivity, where we are disciplined and trained in festivity.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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