“There is an evil which I have seen under the sun and it is prevalent among men— 2 a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner enjoys them. This is vanity and a severe affliction.”
What is this evil that one with the power resources bring, lacks the ability to enjoy its treasure? It seems that the Preacher is alluding to something that both the rich and the poor lack: the gift from God to not only be stewards of their lot in life but also to have the capacity to enjoy it. I think he is saying that the ability to enjoy what we have is not earned, but granted to us by our maker. Perhaps the reason so many people are miserable is precisely because God has not gifted them with the capacity to enjoy their station in life.
What lessons are here to learn? First, it seems that to have God’s gifts but not the capacity to enjoy them is evil. It’s not the way things should be but they are. So if I don’t know how to enjoy what things I have, either God has not granted me the gift, or He has and I’m too stupid to get it.
Second, this gift as I’ve said before does not come from within me, the creature, but from the Creator. Here again we are reminded of our finitude and contingent existence which is so needy and the pride within suppresses that truth.
Third, to possess riches and honor on the one hand and to lack the goods enabling us to enjoy them is a severe affliction, it is misery. Yet the poor can’t relate here in one sense to the burden of the rich. Perhaps that’s why in the book of Proverbs there are many warnings to cease the pursuit of riches, for without God riches are a cruel abyss of unfulfilled desires.
Lastly, I think we need God’s strength, even though we may not be rich, to enjoy our lot in life by remembering that it is God alone who gives life and possessions meaning. May we delight in the LORD today, as we seek Him for our own good and the good of others.