Ecclesiastes 6

Listen to Ecclesiastes 6
1 1There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind:
2 a man 2to whom 3God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he 4lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God 5does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous evil.
3 If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that 6the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life's 7good things, and he also has no 8burial, I say that 9a stillborn child is better off than he.
4 For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered.
5 Moreover, it has not 10seen the sun or known anything, yet it finds 11rest rather than he.
6 Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy[a] no good--do not all go to the one place?
7 12All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.[b]
8 For what advantage has the wise man 13over the fool? And what does the poor man have who knows how to conduct himself before the living?
9 Better 14is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is 15vanity and a striving after wind.
10 Whatever has come to be has 16already been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to 17dispute with one stronger than he.
11 The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man?
12 For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his 18vain life, which he passes like 19a shadow? For who can tell man what will be 20after him under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 6 Commentary

Chapter 6

The vanity of riches. Also of long life and flourishing families. (1-6) The little advantage any one has in outward things. (7-12)

Verses 1-6 A man often has all he needs for outward enjoyment; yet the Lord leaves him so to covetousness or evil dispositions, that he makes no good or comfortable use of what he has. By one means or other his possessions come to strangers; this is vanity, and an evil disease. A numerous family was a matter of fond desire and of high honour among the Hebrews; and long life is the desire of mankind in general. Even with these additions a man may not be able to enjoy his riches, family, and life. Such a man, in his passage through life, seems to have been born for no end or use. And he who has entered on life only for one moment, to quit it the next, has a preferable lot to him who has lived long, but only to suffer.

Verses 7-12 A little will serve to sustain us comfortably, and a great deal can do no more. The desires of the soul find nothing in the wealth of the world to give satisfaction. The poor man has comfort as well as the richest, and is under no real disadvantage. We cannot say, Better is the sight of the eyes than the resting of the soul in God; for it is better to live by faith in things to come, than to live by sense, which dwells only upon present things. Our lot is appointed. We have what pleases God, and let that please us. The greatest possessions and honours cannot set us above the common events of human life. Seeing that the things men pursue on earth increase vanities, what is man the better for his worldly devices? Our life upon earth is to be reckoned by days. It is fleeting and uncertain, and with little in it to be fond of, or to be depended on. Let us return to God, trust in his mercy through Jesus Christ, and submit to his will. Then soon shall we glide through this vexatious world, and find ourselves in that happy place, where there is fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore.

Cross References 20

  • 1. Ecclesiastes 5:13
  • 2. Ecclesiastes 5:19
  • 3. [1 Kings 3:13]
  • 4. Psalms 17:14; Psalms 73:7; See Job 21:7-13
  • 5. [Ecclesiastes 5:19; Luke 12:20]
  • 6. Genesis 47:8, 9
  • 7. [ver. 6]
  • 8. Isaiah 14:20; Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 22:19; [2 Kings 9:35]
  • 9. Ecclesiastes 4:3; Job 3:16
  • 10. Ecclesiastes 7:11; Ecclesiastes 11:7
  • 11. Ecclesiastes 4:6
  • 12. [Proverbs 16:26]
  • 13. [Ecclesiastes 2:15]
  • 14. Ecclesiastes 11:9
  • 15. See Ecclesiastes 1:14
  • 16. Ecclesiastes 1:10; Ecclesiastes 3:15
  • 17. Job 9:32; Isaiah 45:9; [1 Corinthians 10:22]
  • 18. [Ecclesiastes 7:15; Ecclesiastes 9:9]
  • 19. Ecclesiastes 8:13; See Job 14:2
  • 20. [Ecclesiastes 2:18; Ecclesiastes 3:22]

Footnotes 2

Chapter Summary


The wise man goes on to expose the vanity of riches, as possessed by a covetous man, who makes no use of them; an evil, and a common one under the sun, Ec 6:1; Who is described by the good things he has; which he has not a power to enjoy, but a stranger enjoys them, Ec 6:2; by his numerous offspring and long life; yet neither is he satisfied with good in life, nor has he a burial at death; wherefore an abortive is preferred unto him, Ec 6:3; For though many things may be said of that which are disagreeable, yet worse of him, and that has more rest than he; and besides, they both go to one place, the grave, Ec 6:4-6; and the vanity of an anxious labour for riches is further argued from the use of them, at most and best, which is only for the body, and the sustenance of it, but cannot satisfy the mind or soul, Ec 6:7; and this use a fool can make of, them, as well as a wise man; and a poor man, that is knowing, diligent, and industrious to live, as well as the rich, Ec 6:8. Wherefore it is best to enjoy and be content with present mercies, than to let loose the wandering desires after what may never be had, Ec 6:9; and especially it should be considered, that let a man be in what circumstances he will, he is but a man; and these circumstances are determined and appointed by God, which he cannot alter; and therefore it is both vain and sinful to contend with him, Ec 6:10. And, after all, a man is never the better for his carking cares and wandering desires, since there are so many things that increase vanity, Ec 6:11; and a man is so ignorant of what is good for him for the present, and of what shall be after him, Ec 6:12.

Ecclesiastes 6 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.