In Ecc 5:18, Solomon said that it is good and comely (suitable, proper) for one to eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor. This is his portion.
The basic reason that men work is to feed themselves, Prov 16:26. Paul affirmed that if a man wouldn’t work, neither should he eat, 2 Thes 3:10, 12.
When God cursed the ground in Gen 3:17-19, he said, “in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life”. Man indeed has to “sweat” to produce his food. Nevertheless, when his work is rewarded with food for his table, he should enjoy the fruit of his labor. This is the gift of God, Ecc 3:13. See also Ecc 8:15, 9:7-9.
In Ecc 5:19, notice that a man is the recipient of the gift of God in his labor when four things are true:
- God gives him riches and wealth – God did this for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, David, Solomon, etc. But God does not bless all men with wealth (under the sun), Prov 22:2. Notice, though, Jas 2:5, which Solomon doesn’t contemplate in Ecc.
- God gives him power to eat thereof – for a period of time, Job didn’t have this power and he was miserable.
- God gives him power to take his portion – the rich farmer in Lk 12:16-21 was denied this power.
- God gives him power to rejoice – Solomon rejoiced for a time, Ecc 2:10, and then despaired, Ecc 2:11, 17-18.
In Ecc 5:20, when God answers a man in the joy of his heart, he doesn’t much remember the days of his life. In the present joy provided by God he isn’t thinking about his other days. And the joy makes him forget his past and the labor he may have endured to obtain his current fruit.
Joseph is an excellent example of one whose present joy caused him to not remember his days, as you can tell by the names of his two sons, Gen 41:51-52.
While it is the gift of God in our labor to eat and drink, we must remember some things regarding how much we eat and what we drink.
Be careful with what you drink:
- Prov 31:4-7 it is not for kings to drink wine.
- Prov 20:1 wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, Prov 23:29-35
- Eph 5:18 be not drunk with wine… be filled with the Spirit.
Be careful with what you eat:
- Prov 23:2 control you appetite, Ecc 6:7
- Phil 4:5 eat in moderation to nourish your body
- Phil 4:11-12 learn to be content, 1 Tim 6:8
- Phil 3:19 don’t let your belly be your god, Matt 6:31-33
- Rom 14:20-23, don’t offend the conscience of brethren, 1 Cor 8:13