The peaceful shadows of old age. The righteous will enjoy a long and peaceful old age, like the shadows of evening (8:13). There is no such hope, however, for the wicked.
“Eat, drink, and be merry”? Ecclesiastes advises those who serve God to enjoy his gifts of food, drink, comfort, married life, and honest work (9:7–9; compare 2:24–26; 3:13; 5:19–20).
Working too hard? It is equally wrong to be lazy or to be a “workaholic.” People sometimes work too hard because they want all the nice things their neighbors have (4:4). People should work diligently but should also enjoy the quiet contentment that comes from serving the Lord (v. 6).
The words vanity, vanities, and vain occur nearly 40 times in Ecclesiastes. Their literal meaning is “vapor” or “breath,” so they are used to describe things that can be fleeting or elusive, like the search for meaning and purpose in life.
Ecclesiastes encourages God’s people to trust him in a fallen and often confusing world, in which sin and heartache touch every corner of the globe. We are to “fear God and keep his commandments” (12:13), even when we cannot understand everything that is going on around us.