Introduction: What Does “It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war” Really Mean?
In the Book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon offers a number of reflections on various aspects of life. One passage offers a curious comparison between gardening and war. He writes, “It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.” (7:4)
The plain meaning of the statement seems to suggest that it is better and more worthwhile to be actively engaged in fighting an enemy–perhaps even killing an enemy–than it is to be tending a garden. What could Solomon have meant by this observation? Is this merely a casual and obvious observation that has no particular spiritual significance? Or could he have had some deeper point in mind?
Conclusion: Live Your Life by the “Warrior Gardener” Saying
Chapter 13 of the Book of Ecclesiastes begins with the words, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep his commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” Solomon then goes on to explain that nothing can be hidden from God. There are no secrets or surprises for the Almighty.
The Lord’s caring, however, is not limited to the choices we make and the secrets we keep. He cares about what turns out in our lives. He knows the end from the beginning, but he also knows how to bring good out of bad choices.
Solomon knew this firsthand, having lived a very sinful life before being given charge of his father’s kingdom. He learned about the “fear of the Lord” and its consequences the hard way. It was not hard for him to understand why God was going to judge himself, judging all people. But he also knew that God could redeem even the most wicked among us if we will only trust him.
Actions have consequences, and those who do not repent for their sins–especially those who continue in disobedience–will be judged severely, as Solomon feared. He knew this from experience and from his own personal experience as well. But he also knew how God could work all things for good if we would just submit to his wisdom and keep his commandments.