This is an interesting section; the Teacher gets into some reasons why wealth is meaningless, and then there’s a little twist at the end. Verses 10-11 speak of the meaningless nature of the love of money; what’s the point in loving money, which is to say being overly desirous for money, giving it too much priority in life. Yes, loving money is a pointless waste.
Verses 12-14 make this point further, when he notes that such a person has no sleep, how many lovers of money hoard so much of it that they do themselves harm, or even lose their fortunes due to some external crisis. Imagine living your life to amass a fortune, being eaten up with the desire for more and more, and then… the market crashes and you lose it all in a day.
Then what? We’ve all heard the stories of the Wall Street people jumping out of their windows in 1929…
In verses 15-17, the Teacher really sums up his point about wealth: Naked you come into this world, and naked you pass from this world. Fill up a bank vault with gold and in the dusty dark vault your gold will remain. Why even bother? Now comes the twist…
In the remaining verses of the chapter, we see a different approach to money. Here, a man realizes that his labor doesn’t need to be pointless, in fact, to the discerning person, it is a gift from God. Approaching work in the right way will also lead to wealth of a sort, but maybe not the shameless accumulation of it simply to hoard.
Hey buddy! It’s OK to enjoy the fruits of your labors!
What if the man who realizes that his work is a gift from God also comes to understand that the money he earns from it is also a gift; a gift to be enjoyed? That is quite a different matter than just driving oneself to amass a fortune to hoard, for it is God’s gift. A person who views God’s presence in their daily life has little time to worry about the shortness of his days; or other philosophical matters, he is quite busy enjoying his life and his work in God’s light.
While this sounds pretty good, maybe we shouldn’t get too giddy just yet, for as the next chapter begins, the Teacher has some more to say about the failure of wealth.