On several occasions in Ecclesiastes, Solomon has urged finding “enjoyment” in our work. On the other hand, he also calls work “a miserable business” (4:8).
So . . . which is right?
Work can be an oppressive thing. After all, each of us is answerable to one higher up, and the higher ups are held responsible for the work of those below them, and it is difficult to find someone to comfort you in those circumstances.
And sometimes the oppression we feel in our work is self-generated. We envy those above us and seek to have their jobs.
But Solomon says that the answer to our vocational conflict is not to “quit” working (vs. 5) – an option all too many people take. Nor is to increase our own pressure in an attempt to get more for ourselves (4:6).
Our goal is to seek “tranquility,” and that can only be achieved in “community.” We all have to work, but we should seek a community work environment where we can be productive with others (4:8), help one another (4:10), comfort one another (4:11) and protect one another (4:12).
The goal to be “King of the hill” places us outside community – much like the King “who no longer knows how to take warning.” His downfall will come from an unexpected source: a much younger man, less experienced, who none-the-less knows how to work with, and among, people.