Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. (9:8, niv)
Death is the great leveler. “All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad . . .” (9:2). “No man knows when his hour will come” (v. 12), but all know that it will happen. The strongest among us may die at any moment (v. 11). Therefore, says the Teacher, life is precious, to be enjoyed, not taken for granted. As he crudely puts it, “Even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!” (v. 4).
As Christians, our understanding of death is transformed by our knowledge of eternal life. But the Teacher is expressing a more basic idea: that earthly life is a gift and should be appreciated every moment in every detail. Death threatens our sense of meaning precisely because we so enjoy being alive. Centering one’s life on pleasures isn’t the final answer, but that doesn’t mean we must renounce them.
Food and wine should be taken with “a joyful heart” (v. 7). “Enjoy life” with those whom you love (v. 9). Jump into every activity “with all your might, for in the grave . . . there is no work” (v. 10). Live as if every day is a special celebration (v. 8).
Because it is!
Lord, I want to enjoy life and savor every day as a precious gift from you. Amen.