Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ecclesiastes 6:7

All a man's labor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Contentment;   Thompson Chain Reference - Appetites;   Emptiness-Fulness;   Power;   Self-Indulgence;   Self-Indulgence-Self-Denial;   Unsatisfied;  
Dictionaries:
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ecclesiastes;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Appetite;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for September 7;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

All the labor of man - This is the grand primary object of all human labor; merely to provide for the support of life by procuring things necessary. And life only exists for the sake of the soul; because man puts these things in place of spiritual good, the appetite - the intense desire after the supreme good - is not satisfied. When man learns to provide as distinctly for his soul as he does for his body, then he will begin to be happy, and may soon attain his end.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ecclesiastes-6.html. 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

SOLOMON FINDS MORE VANITY AND STRIVING AFTER WIND

"All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled. For what advantage hath the wise man more than the fool? or what hath the poor man that knoweth how to walk before the living? Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this also is vanity, and a striving after wind."

When life on earth, as considered apart from the knowledge of God, as the author of Ecclesiastes was speaking of it in these lines, "Then life itself is a rat-race that makes no sense at all. This awful truth is just as real to the modern man on his industrial treadmill as it was to the primitive peasant scraping a bare living from the ground (which God has cursed for Adam's sake). He works to eat, for the strength to go on working, to go on eating; and, even if he enjoys his work and his food, the compulsion is still there."[3] His mouth, not his mind, is in control.

Even with all of man's vaunted discoveries, achievements, inventions, etc., there is an epic tragedy of human life on earth continually lived out in the lives of uncounted millions of people. Millions of children annually die without proper food from malnutrition and starvation. Disease and death are rampant in all lands. Oh yes, the average life-span has been increased a little; but it remains only a small fraction of what God intended, as evidenced in the lives of Adam and many of the patriarchs. What is wrong? Just one thing. Man's wickedness.

Apart from God, "homo sapiens" (the wise one, as he calls himself) would be more appropriately named if he had called himself `homo ignoramus.'! Apart from God, mankind has no more future than the ichthyosaurus or the dinosaur. More and more our wretched human family is claiming for itself the scriptural designation that must be applied to unbelievers, namely, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God" (Psalms 14:1 and Psalms 53:1).

"Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire" (Ecclesiastes 6:9). Cook interpreted this to mean that, "A thing pleasant before the eyes is preferable to a future which exists only in the desire."[4] If this is correct, then we have here the equivalent of the current saying that, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," the very same thought of every sinner who consents to take what his lustful eyes may see instead of those things eternal which are invisible (2 Corinthians 4:18).

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/ecclesiastes-6.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

All the labour of man is for his mouth,.... For the food of his mouth, as the Targum; for the sustenance of his body, for food and clothing, part being put for the whole: all that a man labours for is to get this; and if he does not enjoy it, his labour is in vain; meats are for the belly, which are taken in by the mouth, and for these a man labours; and if he does not eat them, when he has got them, he labours to no purpose;

and yet the appetite is not filled; even the bodily or sensual appetite; no, not even by those who eat the fruit of their labour; for though their hunger is allayed for the present, and the appetite is satisfied for a while, yet it returns again, and requires more food, and so continually: or, "the soul is not filled", or "satisfied"F3הנפש לא תמלא "anima non implebitur", Pagninus, Montanus; "anima non expletur", Mercerus, Gejerus; "non impletur", Cocceius, so Broughton; "non satiatur", Drusius. ; it is the body only that is filled or satisfied with such things, at best; the mind of man grasps after greater things, and can find no contentment or satisfaction in earthly or sensual enjoyments. This seems to be a new argument, proving the vanity of riches, from the narrow use of them; which only reaches to the body, not to the soul.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ecclesiastes-6.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(e) His desire and affection.
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/ecclesiastes-6.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

man — rather, “the man,” namely, the miser (Ecclesiastes 6:3-6). For not all men labor for the mouth, that is, for selfish gratification.

appetiteHebrew, “the soul.” The insatiability of the desire prevents that which is the only end proposed in toils, namely, self-gratification; “the man” thus gets no “good” out of his wealth (Ecclesiastes 6:3).

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/ecclesiastes-6.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

“All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet his soul has never enough;” or, properly, it is not filled, so that it desires nothing further and nothing more; נמלא used as appropriately of the soul as of the ear, Ecclesiastes 1:8; for that the mouth and the soul are here placed opposite to one another as “organs of the purely sensual and therefore transitory enjoyment, and of the deeper and more spiritual and therefore more lasting kind of joys” (Zöck.), is an assertion which brings out of the text what it wishes to be in it, - נפשׁ and פּה stand here so little in contrast, that, as at Proverbs 16:26; Isaiah 5:14; Isaiah 29:8, instead of the soul the stomach could also be named; for it is the soul longing, and that after the means from without of self-preservation, that is here meant; נפשׁ היפה, “beautiful soul,” Chullin iv. 7, is an appetite which is not fastidious, but is contented. גּמו, καὶ ὃμως ὃμως δέ, as at Ecclesiastes 3:13; Psalms 129:2. All labour, the author means to say, is in the service of the impulse after self-preservation; and yet, although it concentrates all its efforts after this end, it does not bring full satisfaction to the longing soul. This is grounded in the fact that, however in other respects most unlike, men are the same in their unsatisfied longing.

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The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/ecclesiastes-6.html. 1854-1889.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

Is — For meat.

And yet — Men are insatiable in their desires, and restless in their endeavours after more, and never say, they have enough.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/ecclesiastes-6.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Ecclesiastes 6:7 All the labour of man [is] for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.

Ver. 7. All the labour of man is for his mouth.] That is, For food and raiment, {as 1 Timothy 6:8} a little whereof will content nature, which hath therefore given us a little mouth and stomach, (a) to teach us moderation, as Chrysostom well observeth; to the shame of those beastly belly gods, that glut themselves, and devour the creatures, as if they were of kin to that Pope that was called Os porci, Mouth of a pig, fattening themselves like boars, till they be brawned, and having, as Eliphaz speaketh, collops in their flank. A man would think, by their greedy and great eating, that their throats were whirlpools, and their bellies bottomless; that they were like locusts, which have but one gut, the ass fish, that hath his heart in his belly, (b) or the dolphin, that hath his mouth in his maw, as Solinus saith.

And yet the appetite is not filled.] And yet what birds soever fly, what fishes soever swim, what beasts soever run about, are all buried in our bellies, saith Seneca. (c) Heliogabalus was served at one supper with seven thousand fishes and five thousand fowls. He had also six hundred harlots following him in chariots, and yet gave great rewards to him that could invent any new pleasure. His thirst was unquenchable, his appetite like the hill Aetna, ever on fire, after more. Now, as "in water face answereth to face," [Proverbs 27:19] so doth the appetite of a man to man; we are all as irregular, if God suffer us to range.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/ecclesiastes-6.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

For his mouth; for meat to put into his mouth, that he may get food; and as bread is oft put for all food, so food is put for all necessary provisions for this life, as Proverbs 30:8, and elsewhere; whereof this is the chief, for which a man will sell his house and lands, yea, the very garments upon his back.

Is not filled: although all that a man can go: by his labours is but necessary food, which the meanest sort of men commonly enjoy, as is observed in the next verse; yet such is the vanity of this world, and the folly of mankind, that men are insatiable in their desires, and restless in their endeavours, after more and more, and never say they have enough.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/ecclesiastes-6.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

7.The man spoken of in the preceding verse is still the subject, as contrasted with the perished embryo.

All the labour of man is for his mouth — That is, for present enjoyment.

Appetite is not filled — Better, Yet his soul is not satisfied.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/ecclesiastes-6.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Mouth. We are always providing food. (St. Jerome) --- The rich are wholly bent on pleasure; or the poor cannot get a sufficiency.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/ecclesiastes-6.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

"All a man"s labor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied".

"is for his mouth"-for self-preservation and enjoyment. "The first of them (7) makes a point which is as real to modern man on his individual treadmill as to the primitive peasant scraping a bare living from the soil: that he works to eat, for the strength to go on working to go on eating. Even if he enjoys his work-and his food-the compulsion is still there. His mouth, not his mind, seems to be master" (Kidner p. 61).

"yet the appetite is not satisfied"-Certain men labor endlessly for the products of food and pleasure, and yet their desire is never satisfied. When I become addicted to having things, then those things become a relentless taskmaster instead of things that can bring comfort and convenience to my life. The moment I start worshipping anything other than God, I have just forfeited contentment and happiness. Solomon warns that there is always the danger that our desire will outstrip our acquisitions. Actually, the statement, "It is more that you can imagine", typically doesn"t apply to what man can imagine concerning earthly wealth and earthly possessions. The problem that confronts many people is that they can imagine much more than they could every possess.

"All this is damaging to any rosy picture of the world….Qoheleth is very far from holding that man has rights which God ignores; it is rather that man has needs which God exposes….The world itself is made to say to us, in the only language we will mostly listen to, "This is no place to rest"" (Kidner p. 60) (Hebrews ).

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/ecclesiastes-6.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

labour = toil.

the appetite = the soul. Hebrew. nephesh.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/ecclesiastes-6.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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

All the labour of man (is) for his mouth - rather, 'of the man,' namely, the miser (Ecclesiastes 6:3-6). For not all men labour for the mouth, i:e., for selfish gratification. So the Hebrew, haa'aadaam (Hebrew #120).

The appetite - Hebrew, the soul. The insatiability of the desire prevents that which is the only end proposed in toils, namely, self- gratification. The "man" thus gets no "good" out of his wealth (Ecclesiastes 6:3). The marvel is that we should 'so much harass ourselves for so small a thing, and one so easily procured. Since all that one gains by ceaseless toil has reference to food and raiment, and since nature is content with little, this insatiable desire of getting is mad and monstrous. God has made our mouth very small; yet the desire of gain is as vast as if our mouth was as large as a whirlpool, and able to swallow the Jordan at a draught; or as if we had the mouth of Leviathan' (Cartwright). (1 Timothy 6:9.)

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/ecclesiastes-6.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.
the labour
Genesis 3:17-19; Proverbs 16:26; Matthew 6:25; John 6:27; 1 Timothy 6:6-8
appetite
Heb. soul.
3; 5:10; Luke 12:19
Reciprocal: Genesis 48:15 - fed me;  Psalm 127:2 - the bread;  Proverbs 27:20 - so;  Ecclesiastes 2:22 - hath man

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/ecclesiastes-6.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ecclesiastes 6:7. All the labour of man is for his mouth, (falsely explained by Luther—"on every man is labour Imposed in his measure"), which is easy to fill, and in the rich man is not larger than in the poor. The Berleburger Bible says: "Can they carry more than one garment on the body? Can they eat more than till they are filled?" The rational conclusion to be drawn from the fact presented in these words, is that which is given us in 1 Timothy 6:8,— ἔχοντες δὲ διατροφὰς καὶ σκεπάσματα, τούτοις ἀρκεσθησόμεθα. But that still, notwithstanding its limited capacity of enjoyment, the soul of man is not satisfied, is very strange, and is a strong proof how greatly the human race has been under the dominion of sin and folly which produce ἐπιθυμίας πολλὰς ἀνοήτους καὶ βλαβεράς (1 Timothy 6:9), ever since the day spoken of in Genesis"

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 6:7". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/ecclesiastes-6.html.