Ecclesiastes 6:1-12

Ecclesiastes 6:1

There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men:


Then Solomon reveals the fact that he has seen another evil which is very common among men, that is, the human race.  It has once again to do with riches and the troubles they can cause.  Sometimes those with riches can really be living a life of poverty, not necessarily for want of material things, but the want of spiritual things which will go on after this life is over.


Ecclesiastes 6:2

A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, 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.


There is the man whom God has given him much wealth of the world along with honor to the point he lacks nothing in his life.  He is able to buy or get anything that he wants and can also travel wherever he wants but unfortunately for him he will be unable to enjoy it maybe because sickness has hindered him or that he is disabled and cannot get around but the big vanity is that all his worldly goods will be given to someone else who did not work for it.  This handing over the wealth to strangers is a great vanity but also an evil disease.  The word “evil” may also be understood as “calamity or disaster.”  To give underserving people years of hard work which may amount to great wealth often makes the person having to give it very sick.  By the time they get to enjoy their wealth by relaxing a little, it comes to time to give it away by means of death.  A similar thing happens among Christians and that is when we begin to have a good working knowledge of the Bible we find ourselves up in years and sometimes too old or frail to impart all that truth to others.  It is great frustration when that happens.


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.


Then a man may have a hundred children and live way into old age but if his life was not filled with good things but only troubles and strife in the family or over business dealings even his funeral or his death would be one where no one would miss him or he would even be denigrated as a miserly or cheap person who fostered all the problems in his own home.  Instead of living a long life in misery, Solomon then states that if he died in childbirth or was even a victim of a miscarriage, then that would be better than living a long life in strife.  Job also stated something similar to what Solomon is teaching.  Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.  (Job 3:16) 


Ecclesiastes 6:4

For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness.


The one who is miscarried or abortive will grow in the womb and comes into the world with great vanity and their premature death is in darkness, not known to others.  The name that the miscarriage shall carry will soon be covered in darkness which is they shall soon be forgotten as if they were in darkness where no one can see them.


Ecclesiastes 6:5

Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this hath more rest than the other.


The miscarried child has never seen the sun by reason of death nor did they have any chance to know anything that is under the sun whether it be knowledge of this world or knowledge of God.  Then because of not coming into the world, the child has no struggles and faces no challenges and is considered at rest.  Job also spoke about this. There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.  (Job 3:17) 


Ecclesiastes 6:6

Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place?


Even those who may have the opportunity to live a thousand years even two thousand years, they will still see the evil which dominates this world.  A person who lived two thousand years would have seen the Roman Empire, the Inquisitions of the Roman Catholic Church, the wars, the famines, pestilences, and many other tragic episodes but even a person who lives a long life is destined to go to the same place as the person who died in childbirth, and that is, the grave.


Ecclesiastes 6:7

All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.


All of man’s exploits on this earth is for one reason and that is self-satisfaction.  Man also labors for the food that he needs to sustain his life upon the earth.  The appetite is never filled especially for those who want more than they have also the appetite is a repetitive thing when dealing with food.  Once we eat and our body starts digesting the food, we will once again be hungry and we must start the food routine all over.  Sometimes it is three times a day and sometimes two but whatever it is, it is a repetitive cycle.


Ecclesiastes 6:8

For what hath the wise more than the fool? what hath the poor, that knoweth to walk before the living?


The wise man does not have any advantage over the fool when dealing with the calamities that face all people on this earth.  The wise man dies just as the fool dies although the wise man may have more earthly goods and a big funeral but nevertheless he is just as dead as the fool.  The poor that knoweth to walk before the living means that his walk or his conduct before the living of the world in the area of being productive in his life does not have any advantage simply because his poverty prevents him from having any influence or advantage in this world.  Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.  (Ecclesiastes 9:16)  A poor man can be wiser than a rich man yet because of his poverty he is thought to have nothing to say and should remain quiet.


Ecclesiastes 6:9

Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.


Here is the essence of contentment.  A person is better off living the life they have at present than having their desires wander all over the place which means they will have desires to have a different life.  We have all heard the saying “greener pastures” but one must keep in mind that green pastures can turn brown quite quickly when there is no rain for a few weeks.  We need to be content in the life the Lord has given us and to build on that life.  Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  (Philippians 4:11)  Hoping for a “better life” can cause great emptiness in ourselves and great displeasure if our dreams do not come to pass the way we want them to.


Ecclesiastes 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.


The preacher states that all the things he has named in his discourse such as honor, wealth, status, wisdom, pleasure is all associated with man.  These things which Solomon mentions in his inquiry into these things contains many different tones of vanity since none of these things will last eternally.  Man needs to be content in whatever state God has placed him since contending with God is a futile thing to do.  God has placed people in the places that he wants them to be as part of his plan for humanity.  Changes do occur but only by the design and will of God.  God has absolute wisdom and sees the beginning from the end and that is where we fall short on understanding our position in life.  We do not possess that understanding and if we argue with God that we know better, then we are being fools.  It would be like a person who enters Medical School on Monday and by Thursday thinking they can do a successful heart transplant.


Ecclesiastes 6:11

Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better?


Building on what Solomon wrote concerning the things that increase vanity such as wealth and wisdom, these things make a person more vain than if they were void of them.  Has these things made man any better than he is?  Can these things increase the length of his life?  Can these things cause him to live eternally?  Can they cause him to understand the things of God more clearly?  The answer to these questions is no since man is part of the vanity structure of this earth because of sin.  The vanity of man is no better than the vanity of the things he seeks for.


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?

One of the greatest limitations we have in this life is that fact that we do not know what tomorrow holds and that is designed by God so man will look to him in fear and faith.  God is the only one who knows the beginning from the end and what will happen to individual man tomorrow.  As man cannot tell what his life today will bring, he sure does not have the capability to know what will happen in the future after his death.  Life will go on until the last day and no person has the ability to know the details.  We may know generalizations like the Bible tells us.  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  (2 Timothy 3:1)  Since we have been living in the last days since the time of the cross, 2 Timothy 3:1 tells us that perilous times will come in the last days.  History has given us the details on many perils that Christians faced but as for the future, we do not know how perilous those times will be and in what fashion they will continue.  This is why we have faith in God who knows them thoroughly.  Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.  (Acts 15:18)