Ecclesiastes 2:24—Is Solomon commending hedonism here?
Problem: Solomon concluded, “There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor.” But this is hedonism, which is condemned elsewhere in the Bible (Luke 12:19–20; 1 Cor. 10:7).
Solution: Solomon is not recommending pleasure-seeking hedonism apart from God. There is a big difference between the hedonist’s “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die” and Solomon’s exhortation to enjoy life because it comes “from the hand of God” (Ecc. 2:24). The kind of pleasures Solomon commended is that “which God gives him under the sun” (Ecc. 8:15), and that “is the gift of God” (Ecc. 3:13).
God is not a cosmic killjoy or a heavenly scrooge. He “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17) and at His “right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11). However, Solomon warns, “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment” (Ecc. 11:9). God wants us to enjoy this life, but to live it in the light of the next one.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.