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Bible Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 6

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-12

Chapter 6

Now there is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it's common among men: A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honor, so that he wants nothing for his soul of all that he desires ( Ecclesiastes 6:1-2 ),

The guy doesn't want anything for his soul. Everything he desires he has.

yet God gives him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eats it: this is vanity, and an evil disease ( Ecclesiastes 6:2 ).

The guy who has everything but can't partake of it.

If a man begets a hundred children, and he lives many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he has no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he ( Ecclesiastes 6:3 ).

The guy is better off if he was, if he was really aborted, rather than to live and have a hundred children and to live a long life.

For he comes in with vanity, and he departs in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness. Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this hath more rest than the other. Even though he lives to be a thousand years twice [or two thousand years old], yet he has seen no good: do not all go to one place? All of the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet his appetite is not filled ( Ecclesiastes 6:4-7 ).

All you do, all your labor just to feed yourself, but yet you're always hungry. All of the labor of a man for his mouth, yet he's not full.

For what hath the wise more than the fool? what hath the poor, that knoweth to walk before the living? Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this also though is vanity and vexation of spirit. That which hath been is named already ( Ecclesiastes 6:8-10 ),

Nothing new.

and it is known that it is man: now neither may he contend with him that is mightier than he ( Ecclesiastes 6:10 ).

Yet we find so many men seeking to contend with God. The prophet said, "Woe unto him who strives with his Maker!" ( Isaiah 45:9 ) And yet people are striving with God. Our striving with God usually results from a tragic experience in life where we do not understand why God allowed a certain tragedy or grief to befall our lives. And because I cannot understand why God allowed this to happen, I become bitter against God.

There are a lot of people today who are fighting with God. They're angry with God. They're bitter against God. It's because their lives have not worked out to their desire. It's because God hasn't given to them all that they want or all that they feel. Or that God has allowed something to happen to them which seems to be tragic.

Now somehow I think that God should only allow good things to happen to me. Somehow I feel that God ought to keep me healthy all the time. Never sick. I believe that God ought to make me a very prosperous person. I believe that God ought to make me very beautiful. And if I am flawed in any of these areas, then I blame God. "God, why did You make me so ugly? God, why did You allow this to happen to me? God, why?" And I am blaming God and finding fault with God because He hasn't followed what I feel to be the ideal pattern for my life. So a man contends with God.

But, verse Ecclesiastes 6:12 :

Who really knows what is good for man in this life ( Ecclesiastes 6:12 ),

Who really knows whether it's better that you be rich or poor? You really know what's best for you? Now you think it would be best for you to be rich. But is that so? If you are rich, will that take your heart and mind away from God? Will it cause you to trust in your riches? Will it diminish your trust in Him and your love for Him? Will you be drawn away by the divers lusts that they that are rich fall into? Will your heart be turned from God to your possessions? Who knows? Do you know what riches would do for you? And yet you're striving with God. You're contending with God because you're not rich. Because you have these financial woes.

But God may know. I don't know. Maybe God has to keep me poor so that I'll continue to trust in Him. I'll continue to rely upon Him day by day for my provisions. Who knows what is good for man? Is it better for me that I be healthy or I be sick? Evidently for Paul the apostle it was better that he be sick. When he asked God to remove his infirmity, God said, "Hey, Paul, My grace is sufficient for you. My strength will be made perfect in your weakness." So Paul said, "I glory in my weakness, that the power of God might be revealed in me" ( 2 Corinthians 12:9 ).

Is it better for me that I be weak so that I have to trust in God; that I don't have the reliance in myself, but I've learned to just trust in God completely, and thus I know the strength of God? Or is it better that I feel strong and self-sufficient and then get wiped out because I'm really very weak when it comes to my flesh and things of my flesh?

What is better for me? Who really knows? I don't know my own heart. It's deceitful and desperately wicked. God knows. God knows what is best for me. That is why it is so wrong for me to contend with God when He doesn't do for me what I think He ought to be doing. When He doesn't give to me those things that I feel I need and desire. And so I begin to contend with God, because, "God, You know how I desire a little Porsche. It's not fair, God, that You don't give it to me. Oh, I think that would be so good for me." And God knows that it would wipe me out. It would swell me up in pride. It would make me think that I was really something. That goes cornering and everything else, to show and probably get in a fatal accident trying to show off in the thing, you know. And God knows what's best for me. "But I would desire this, God," and oh, I'm angry with God. I'm contending with God because He doesn't do for me the little goodies that I want Him to do.

But He knows what's best for me. I don't. I don't. Who knows what is good for man in this life?

all the days of his vain life which he spends as a shadow? ( Ecclesiastes 6:12 )

Life is short. Days measured by days. Life apart from Christ is empty. Life apart from Christ lacks real meaning or substance. It's a shadow. All of the days of his vain shadow.

and who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun? ( Ecclesiastes 6:12 )

Who knows what's going to be after you? Who knows what's going to follow? Who knows what tomorrow is going to bring? Who knows what the future holds? Who knows what the result of it is going to be in your life? Only God knows. Therefore, rather than contending with God I need to submit myself to God who knows all things.

And rather than fighting and contending because He's not doing things my way, I need to just submit and yield my life into His hand, into His wisdom, for He knows what is best for me. And even the sorrow or the tragedy that I might be experiencing today God is using for my good. Even the sickness or the suffering that I might be experiencing now God is working His eternal purpose through it.

The day will come when I will bless God for this hardship rather than cursing Him as I am prone to do when things don't go right. The day comes when you bless God and thank God for the disappointments because you see how God was working out a plan that you couldn't understand. Best that I just yield. And here is my life, God, as You see fit. You know what's best. Work in me Your perfect plan.

Shall we pray.

Father, we thank You that we have Thy Word as a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, and may we walk in its light, Lord. That we might be instructed in the ways of righteousness and truth. And that we might come into Thy fullness. Lord, hide now Thy Word in our hearts. As we see life under the sun, the emptiness of it, the futility of it, may we seek to experience life in the Son, that eternity that You have put into our heart. May we find its fulfillment in Jesus Christ as we drink of the water of life. In His name we pray. Amen. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/ecclesiastes-6.html. 2014.
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