Ecclesiastes 4:6

6 Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 4:6 in Other Translations

KJV
6 Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.
ESV
6 Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.
NLT
6 And yet, “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”
MSG
6 One handful of peaceful repose Is better than two fistfuls of worried work - More spitting into the wind.
CSB
6 Better one handful with rest, than two handfuls with effort and pursuit of the wind.

Ecclesiastes 4:6 Meaning and Commentary

Ecclesiastes 4:6

Better [is] a handful [with] quietness
These are the words of the fool, according to Aben Ezra; and which is the sense of other interpreters, particularly Mr. Broughton, who connects this verse with ( Ecclesiastes 4:5 ) by adding at the end of that the word "saying"; making an excuse or an apology for himself and conduct, from the use and profitableness of his sloth; that little had with ease, and without toil and labour, is much better than both the hands full [with] travail and vexation of spirit;
than large possessions gotten with a great deal of trouble, and enjoyed with much vexation and uneasiness; in which he mistakes slothful ease for true quietness; calls honest labour and industry travail and vexation; and supposes that true contentment lies in the enjoyment of little, and cannot be had where there is much; whereas it is to be found in a good man in every state: or else these words express the true sentiments of Solomon's mind, steering between the two extremes of slothfulness, and too toilsome labour to be rich; that it is much more eligible to have a competency, though it is but small, with a good conscience, with tranquillity of mind, with the love and fear of God, and a contented heart, than to have a large estate, with great trouble and fatigue in getting and keeping it, especially with discontent and uneasiness; and this agrees with what the wise man says elsewhere, ( Proverbs 15:16 Proverbs 15:17 ) ( 17:1 ) . The Targum is,

``better to a man is a handful of food with quietness of soul, and without robbery and rapine, than two handfuls of food with robbery and rapine;''
or with what is gotten in an ill way.

Ecclesiastes 4:6 In-Context

4 And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
5 Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves.
6 Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.
7 Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:
8 There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless— a miserable business!

Cross References 1

  • 1. Proverbs 15:16-17; S Proverbs 16:8