Then I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun: and look! The tears of the oppressed, but they have no comforter— on the side of their oppressors there is power, but they have no comforter. Therefore, I praised the dead who were already dead, more than the living who are still alive. Yet, better than both is he who has never existed, who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
They were innocent in every sense of the word. Their days up to then had been spent in a place with a peacefulness we have not seen in this world. Life was full of goodness and light, no fears and no disappointments. Then, they were approached with an offer. There was much they had not known, and someone had a way for them to gain that knowledge. Even though they had experienced nothing but perfection, their curiosity was aroused. They could have been satisfied with goodness and peace, but they could not stand not knowing what else was out there. By one rebellious act, they would learn the evil they had not known existed and invite it to dwell within them and us.
In Solomon’s writings, he often sounds like someone who sees the world only through a negative or even nihilistic lens. What kind of man would say that it would be better not to exist at all? I say that he was nothing more than an astute realist who understood our current predicament. Solomon saw how unnecessary evil is, how sin’s existence does not improve our state. Adam and Eve wanted to know everything, but some things are better left unknown. We would be better off not knowing pain, sickness, and oppression. We gain nothing from darkness and terror. Through their act, spiritual death has sprung up and will ensnare those who are not wise, eternally spiritually separating them from their creator God. Yes, it would be better to have never been born than to suffer that judgment.
Even in light of this unfortunate reality, the Lord gives us a promise worth holding securely in our hands. Of course there are innumerable evils in this world, and we must spend this life having sin dwell within us, but this shadowed existence will fade beyond memory one day. The evils we have known and those we have yet to know will be unseated, undone, and unknown. For those who are saved, the effects of sin will pass from sight, never again to emerge. We have been born, and we have known evil we never were meant to know, but we also have been born again and will be enlightened to perfection on that day. Father, shield us from the evils of this world, and continue to transform your holy priesthood to your perfect image.