What is crooked cannot be made straight,
and what is lacking cannot be counted.
What the teacher says here is that he sees that the world is bent out of shape. He knows that everything under the sun is meaningless. He also knows that it should not be meaningless – the meaninglessness itself is a product of a broken reality. The meaning which is lacking can not be experienced, because what is lacking cannot be counted, except as a want. The teacher has confronted his problem. He does not allow it to get on top of him.
This is the preamble to his discourse, which, of course, he wrote after he had tried all the things he tried to create meaning in his life. If you read Ecclesiastes you find that he did all the things that people experiment with, in a search for meaning. He tried worldly wisdom, madness, stupidity, pleasures, possessions, people, sex, fame, greatness, reputation, honour, power, hard work, indigence, family, making vows to God, doing things for God, mourning, feasting, laughing and gossip, human justice, finding vicarious meaning through children, marriage, risky business, and every other thing that people try to give meaning to their lives. He found out that, “All is vanity”.
But that would be a gloomy and unpalatable end to the matter, if that had been all he had to say about it. In fact, he appeals to faith. His summary invites men to trust God, and to live out their lives as if God’s judgment should make sense of the things we do. In fact, it is something stronger than trust that he enjoins on his reader: it is fear. The one who lived out the life delighting in the fear of the Lord was the one whose life had most significance, and most meaning, and most glory. It turns out that the teacher knew what he was talking about, even if he didn’t know Who…
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.