than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
the living should take this to heart."
Well, maybe not. If every day we remembered that we don't know what is going to happen in our future, that this day might be the last (ours or someone else's), I think we might make better choices. Seize the day sounds so trite, but it also encapsulates this point. In fact, I think Solomon would wholeheartedly agree. He knows people don't want to end up like him--looking back with a heart full of regret.
But be assured, Solomon isn't saying to live life with a humorless air, never cracking a smile. In Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 he says this:
"This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. "
He says in essence, "Because life is so short, enjoy it!" Enjoy what God has given you because he has given you this time, this day, this hour to enjoy it. Love your loved ones, share your gifts, encourage coworkers, throw a party with friends! Be glad in heart!
I hear a lot of people putting down rich Americans for being wealthy, so it's a bit shocking to hear Solomon call wealth and possessions a gift. We're so used to being "bad" for having lots of money. Yet, Solomon doesn't see wealth as evil or wrong, but a gift from God. To be clear, if you read the rest of Ecclesiastes, you'll see that he doesn't mean to squander your wealth in selfish, idle pursuits (this is exactly what he says he did and it was meaningless). At the end of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says, "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind." So he can't mean take your wealth and run pell mell with it. He means, fear God, obey him and also enjoy what he has given you. Give to the widow, give to the orphan, but don't forget to be joyous yourself with what God has given you.
So, let's "Seize the day!" Enjoy what God has given you! Make every day count because you don't know what the future holds. Hug your children, kiss your spouse, revel in the company of your friends and put your money to good use, for this is God's gift.