The picture is essentially the same as that of chapters 4-5. The repetition is characteristic, consciously or unconsciously, of the pessimism from which the writer has not yet emancipated himself. He broods over the same thought, chews, as it were, the “cud of bitter fancies”. Here the picture is that of a man who has all outward goods in abundance, but he just lacks that capacity for enjoyment which is the “gift of God,” and he dies childless and a stranger becomes the heir.
- A SAD SITUATION (6:1-6)
A. COMMON AFFLICTION AMONG MEN (1-2)
Ecclesiastes 6:1 “There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it [is] common among men:”
The expression “under the sun” is speaking of life in the physical world. The evil that all men are tempted with is self-gratification, the evil of covetousness. At some point in his life, everyone has been a bit self-centered. Sin occurs, when we try to please our flesh.
Ecclesiastes 6:2 “A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honor, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this [is] vanity, and it [is] an evil disease.”
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away for His own purposes. So, the blessings of God cannot be assumed or taken for granted. But they should be enjoyed with thankfulness while they are available.
Prosperity is not necessarily good. Accumulation of wealth does not always result in the use of it.
Men, such as Solomon, who have known great wealth and honor, will all tell you that the riches did not make them happy.
The abundance of things cannot satisfy the soul of mankind. The statement that he wanted nothing, is saying in the physical realm, he wanted for nothing.
Anything money could buy, he had. The truth is, money cannot buy happiness. “To eat”, in this Scripture, is speaking not of physical food, but of enjoyment.
It is so sad that he will not receive enjoyment from all of this, but a total stranger will enjoy it. The evil disease brings death. I believe this is speaking of the sin of covetousness.
B. EVEN WITH MANY CHILDREN AND LONG LIFE (3-6)
In verses 3-6 Not having a burial, indicated complete disrespect and disregard for one’s life. To die without mourners or honors was considered worse that being born dead, even if one had many children and a full life.
Ecclesiastes 6:3 “If a man beget an hundred [children], and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also [that] he have no burial; I say, [that] an untimely birth [is] better than he.”
This is hyperbole, exaggerated statements or claim to make a point.
An untimely birth is better than an unsatisfied life.
It seems that Solomon is, of all men, most miserable. He even wishes he had not lived beyond his birth, sounds very teenage like for an old man. Children were thought of as a blessing of God. To have a hundred children, would be an extreme blessing. Living many years was thought of as a blessing, as well.
The truth is, that without God, all of this would be nothing to desire. The only real peace and joy that any of us have is in the Lord. The soul of man is the will of man, and is also, related to the heart of man. True goodness comes from the heart of man. The hope that Solomon is bemoaning here, as if it were lost, is the hope of eternal life.
Ecclesiastes 6:4 “For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness.”
When a person is born, he is nothing, until the breath of life is breathed into him by God. Then he becomes a living soul. Solomon is speaking here, as if that life was not breathed into him, and he was a baby who never lived. He had never come to the Light.
We know that this is the condition of all mankind, until they receive the Light (Jesus Christ), into their lives. He is life.
Job 33:4 The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.
John 8:12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Acts 26:18 “To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
To be born of the Spirit of God, is to be filled with the Light of Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Ecclesiastes 6:5 “Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known [any thing]: this hath more rest than the other. 6 Yea, though he live a thousand years twice [told], yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place?”
He is still speaking of those who are not born alive.
2 Corinthians 4:4 “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
Satan is the god of this world, that brings darkness to the spirit of mankind. Jesus brings the Light, and does away with that darkness.
The “one place”, spoken of here, is the grave. Yes, all flesh goes to the grave. It was made of dust, and will return to dust. Man is more than just flesh. The spirit of man is made in the image of God that lives on forever.
Years on this earth do not even matter. The eternal life is what is important. Two thousand years would not belong enough for man (without God), to find satisfaction in this life. The only real satisfaction is in the Lord.
Lack of the soul satisfaction comes from working only for what is consumed (verse 7), seeing little difference in the end between the wise and foolish (verse 8), not knowing the future (verse 9), realizing that God alone controls everything (verse 10), and true understanding of the present and future is limited (verses 11-12).
Mark 8:36 “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
II. REFLECTIONS ON RICHES (6:7-12)
A. RICHES CANNOT SATISFY THE SOUL (7-9)
Ecclesiastes 6:7 “All the labor of man [is] for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.”
This is true that the physical body of man requires more and more food. They can never get enough, that they are not hungry again the next day. Life without God would seem that it was a never ending cycle of trying to satisfy yourself with food.
Matthew 5:6 “Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
Efforts for satisfaction are often frustrated.
Ecclesiastes 6:8 “For what hath the wise more than the fool? what hath the poor, that knoweth to walk before the living?”
These are profound statements that Solomon is making of the natural man. Truly they are neither one wise or foolish; ever satisfied with what they have. The poor, that knoweth to walk before the living, is saying that he has chosen the path that leads to life.
Perhaps, the poor finds it more readily, because he is so busy making food for his family, he has no time to get into sin. This does not mean that all poor men are saved, any more than it means all wise men are lost. This is just saying that wealth and intelligence does not get you to heaven. It says a poor man is more apt to seek God, because of the necessities he does without.
We must realize we need a Savior, before we can have the Savior.
The wise man has no advantage over the fool in this area, nor has the poor man an advantage in his inherently humble estate.”For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Ecclesiastes 6:9 “Better [is] the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this [is] also vanity and vexation of spirit.” The truth is substantially that embodied in proverbs like “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
Therefore it is better to enjoy present possessions (the sight of the eyes) than the uncertainty of potential possessions. “Wandering of the desire”
Proverbs 17:24 “Wisdom [is] before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool [are] in the ends of the earth.”
(In verses 10-12), these verses emphasize on of the keynotes of the book: man is too limited in knowledge to explain the problems of life. Questions like “who knoweth” occur four times in the book; and the plain statement “Man does not know” is used seven times. These emphasize a distinct deficiency of knowledge.
B. RICHES CANNOT CHANGE THE VANITY OF LIFE (10-12Ecclesiastes 6:10 “That which hath been is named already, and it is known that it [is] man: neither may he contend with him that is mightier than he.”
It was part of God’s plan to make man. If we wonder why we are born, we are questioning God’s good judgment. Some things about our lives we cannot change. We have no control over who our parents were, whether we are born a Caucasian, African, Indian, Asian, or whatever we are.
We have no control over whether we are male, or female. All these things are determined by God. God is our Creator. We cannot, and should not, argue with God. We must accept everything in God’s will.
The only thing we do have control over, is whether we accept the Lord as our Savior, or not. Our free will determines whether we follow the desires of our flesh, or whether we follow the spirit.
Ecclesiastes 6:11 “Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what [is] man the better?”
The blessings God bestows upon us should not cause us to be vain, because they are a gift. We are intelligent, because God gave us intelligence. We are rich, because God chose for us to be rich. We are famous, because God chose for us to be famous. How can we have great pride and vanity in this? It is not of our doing.
Ecclesiastes 6:12 “For who knoweth what [is] good for man in [this] life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?”
Only God knows the answers to this. We can discuss ways to improve our society, but truly the only help is in God. We are here today and gone tomorrow. Our life is like a shadow, or a vapor. If we are vain about things God has bestowed upon us in this life, our lives are not much good. Vanity has no place in our lives.
“Under the sun” is speaking of this life on the earth. I cannot make myself successful. That is up to God. I can do my best, and He can make my work a blessing. Someone else can come along, and build better than what we have done. It is a continual thing.
James 4:14 “Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
Victory Baptist Church 12 February 2020 victorypalmetto.com