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It's Lonely At The Top
"Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind." (v. 6)
For reading & meditation:
As we said yesterday, Solomon seems fine when his gaze is focused "above the sun," but he becomes filled with cynicism when he looks around at what is "under the sun." Today we see his gaze focused once again in the horizontal direction. He "looks around," as he puts it, sees people caught in the grip of oppression, and his heart is filled with despair. His cynicism reaches new depths when he concludes that under these circumstances, those who had died were fortunate, and the unborn were in an even better position. Some commentators see these sentiments as marking the lowest point in the book. The savage rivalry and competitiveness that he sees all around causes him to say once again that life is meaningless. It's not healthy competition he is referring to here, but the savage, ruthless, brutal, dog-eat-dog mentality that rides roughshod over people's feelings. Those who get to the top by this method find when they get there they have everything they ever wanted - except friends. They pushed those aside on the way up, and thus they find it lonely at the top. What's the answer - drop out of the system? No, that would be irresponsible, to say the least. Overreaction is rarely ever the right reaction. The answer, he says, is to decide that one handful of contentment is better than two handsful of competitiveness that gets you to the top, but leaves you feeling lonely at the top. Moffatt puts it beautifully when he translates verse 6 thus: "One handful of contentment is better than two hands full of toil and futile effort." It is.
Gracious Father, I come to You again to ask that You will touch my heart and deliver me from anything that might deter me from being the person You want me to be. Make me a truly contented Christian. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
Taken from 'Every Day Light' devotional, by Selwyn Hughes. © 1999 and is used by permission. All rights reserved.
Hughes, Selwyn. "Devotional for March 20". "Every Day Light". <http://classic.studylight.org/devos/edl/index.cgi?FirstSelectMonth=&FirstSelectDay=>. 1999.