Ecclesiastes 6

1 I looked long and hard at what goes on around here, and let me tell you, things are bad. And people feel it.
2 There are people, for instance, on whom God showers everything - money, property, reputation - all they ever wanted or dreamed of. And then God doesn't let them enjoy it. Some stranger comes along and has all the fun. It's more of what I'm calling smoke. A bad business.
3 Say a couple have scores of children and live a long, long life but never enjoy themselves - even though they end up with a big funeral! I'd say that a stillborn baby gets the better deal.
4 It gets its start in a mist and ends up in the dark - unnamed.
5 It sees nothing and knows nothing, but is better off by far than anyone living.
6 Even if someone lived a thousand years - make it two thousand! - but didn't enjoy anything, what's the point? Doesn't everyone end up in the same place?
7 We work to feed our appetites; Meanwhile our souls go hungry.
8 So what advantage has a sage over a fool, or over some poor wretch who barely gets by?
9 Just grab whatever you can while you can; don't assume something better might turn up by and by. All it amounts to anyway is smoke. And spitting into the wind.
10 Whatever happens, happens. Its destiny is fixed. You can't argue with fate.
11 The more words that are spoken, the more smoke there is in the air. And who is any better off?
12 And who knows what's best for us as we live out our meager smoke-and-shadow lives? And who can tell any of us the next chapter of our lives?

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.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO ECCLESIASTES 6

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