What Can Be Gained by All Our Toil?

All Is Vanity

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:2–3)

The book of Ecclesiastes offers a simple answer. Apart from God, this wearisome and unpredictable world in which we live will never make sense. If we are to find meaning, purpose and hope in this life, we must acknowledge God and submit humbly to His Word.

What Can Be Gained by All Our Toil?
A Meditation on the book of Ecclesiastes

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.
(Ecclesiastes 12:13–14)

1. What can be gained by all our toil,
Where’s hope amidst such pain?
The sin that fills our fallen world
Makes all our efforts vain.

2. Apart from God there is no hope,
No purpose for this life.
The fruit of all our plans and ploys
Yields not but endless strife.

3. Without God’s grace our thoughts and toils
Are grasping for the wind.
We need the wisdom of God’s Word
That we might know our end.

4. What must we then conclude and know
When wisdom has been heard?
That God has spoken and will judge:
Fear Him and keep His Word!

5. The fear of God will make us wise,
His Word shows us the way.
It beckons us to come to Christ,
Its call we must obey.

6. For on that day when God will judge,
All secret things made known.
The only refuge from God’s wrath
Will be in Christ alone.

Words ©2016 Ken Puls

This hymn is my reflection on the book of Ecclesiastes, especially the conclusion of the book in chapter twelve. It was written during a sermon series on Ecclesiastes entitled “Real Life in a Fallen World” preached by Dr. Tom Ascol at Grace Baptist Church, Cape Coral, Florida.

Download the lyrics and free sheet music for this hymn, including an arrangement of the tune ST. COLUMBA for classical guitar.

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