Ecclesiastes Chapter Six

Copy right to the author-Posted with his permission Gene Whittum

Copy right to the author-Posted with his permission
Gene Whittum

Solomon continues his discourse concerning money and, again, calls it an “evil under the sun”. However, he progresses from a deep love of money to some of the hazards of actually having a substantial amount of it. At the end of chapter five, he noted that when God gives wealth, the riches are able to be enjoyed because God “enables him to enjoy” wealth and to have “gladness of heart”.

In this whole discussion, it is easy to conclude that God is arbitrary in His dealings with mankind. We must not act as if God is not in control or that He plays favorites. To “remember your creator in the days of your youth” implies that there have been lessons learned along the way that govern ones worship and appreciation of God’s provisions. The latter chapters of the Book of Job illustrate that no matter how “blameless and upright” a man may be, (Job 1:2) time and circumstances often blunt ones memory of better days. It is always critical to keep a close connection to the God Who is above the sun.

Enjoyment of God is the highest goal to be sought. Apart from that principle, there is very little that will satisfy mankind to any extent. God’s plans extend to every member of the human race and unless, and until we embrace that idea and treat it as a trust, we will not enjoy it to the fullest degree.underthesun

The man in 6:1 lacks nothing, yet the “evil under the sun” weighs heavily on him. The fault does not lie with
God. The man is unable to enjoy the bounties of the Creator simply because he approaches all of life from
a humanistic or secular mindset. A “grievous evil” implies and includes burdensome, turbulence and an
uneasy commotion of the mind which can include anger and grief. How sorrowful is such a condition in the
human psyche.

No one knew better the potential evils associated with money than Solomon. To the unprepared, it can be easy come, easy go. Success and affluence are not always beneficial. The next few verses twice mention the failure and inability to enjoy prosperity. On the other hand misfortune, grief and sorrow cannot always be considered malevolent. A man must not be judged by the outward affairs of his life.

The next few verses mention long life with many children, the honor afforded men of distinction, wealth and much evidence that one should be content with that kind of life. Children, in the ancient world, were considered great blessings along with the other signs of well being mentioned. A “proper burial” was also a mark respectability and honor.

If one has all of that, yet cannot enjoy it, he is compared to a stillborn baby that “comes without meaning and departs in darkness.” This comparison underscores the condition of the “grievous evil” spoken of earlier. It emphasizes his emotional and mental plight and in Solomonic analysis of the circumstance, he once again states that there is no enjoyment and that, in the end, we all are destined for the grave. Such is the tragedy of the man who has it all but remains “under the sun”.
Sadly, all of the significance of life is lost to the one who persists in living a secular life apart from the Giver of life—the Lord Jesus Christ. It is He who imparts life and gives it meaning and definition and purpose. It is not easy to fully describe the immense loss of enjoyment and reward to a person who lives only for the moment. The challenge is to “be everlastingly at it”–the enjoyment of God’s provisions.

Other passages in the wisdom literature of the Bible echo the sentiments of chapter six. Job, chapter thirty four, is part of a dissertation by Elihu who was present with Jobs three friends when they sought to condemn Job by stating (in several chapters) that the reason Job suffered was because he had some secret sin. The chapter is a powerful refutation of the three men but still not a vindication of Job, who had defended himself. However, in the final analysis by God, Job acknowledged the complete Sovereignty of the Almighty. It is a fascinating book.

Psalm 10 also illustrates the condition of the men who cannot see the God above the sun and wonders about the sinner’s condition until verse 14 when he, the author of the Psalm, says: “But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless”. Psalm 73 also illustrates the same questions that faced Solomon and in every case and situation, the Lord is with those who suffer the “grievous evil” of Ecclesiastes six and vindicates the one who trusts in God. Hebrews 13:5 (quoting Deut. 31:6) states: “I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. (I will) not, (I will) not, (I will) not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake nor let (you) down, (relax My hold on you), Assuredly not!”  (from the Amplified New Testament). The Greek has six negatives, which means “I will never, never, never, never, never, never leave you nor forsake you”, which is a rather powerful promise to the believer. (See Joshua 1:5)never

So, how does a man cope with life? He is either a believer or an unbeliever. However, the circumstances of both may be quite similar even though one may have riches and the other in poverty. Verse seven states: “All man’s efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite (gullet) is never satisfied.” The “mouth” is the entrance for all that goes into his stomach which, ultimately, is to be satisfied with food. It is an analogy to a man’s labor which is constantly directed at his voracious appetite for the good things of life.

The question is asked: “What advantage has a wise man over a fool?” The next question: “What does a poor man gain by knowing how to conduct himself before others?” Whether a man is rich, poor, wise, or a fool, he cannot appease his craving on his own. “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21b).

Interesting side note a information souirce of Ecclesiastes and Job [added by this web editor]:

The mouth represents the basic things of life and we all work to provide the essentials of existence. The appetite is the soul, or the physical portion of our being. We get up to go to work to get food to keep us going, and round and round. We often live on a treadmill. However, there is more to life—there is a spiritual side that also needs to be fed. God knows the beginning and end of life and has made adequate provision for our relationship and communion with Him. He is stronger than we are and we must trust that He will do right for us. Life is a trust that we, as mortals, cannot afford to violate. God is the Master of our lives and has given us the capacity to enjoy life; it is more than just “chasing after wind.”

The pauper learns how to get along in life. He can window shop and dream of achieving, but all his fantasies and illusions are just that—they are “meaningless and a chasing after wind”. It is the same with the rich man who may build bigger and better barns but true happiness and pleasure evade him. All men may dream, but dreams are not reality, nor can dreams create anything material or psychological to satisfy the fancies of life. Our estimates and interpretations of life must be biblical.

Solomon now, verse ten, introduces the Law of God and how it works and applies to man’s existence under the sun. Verses 10-12 seem to reflect the experience of Job and amplify the mysteries of life. Who knows what will happen tomorrow? Chapter seven and verses 13-14 ask the same question: “Who can straighten what he (God) has made crooked?” It is kind of “go with the flow”. Chapter nine, verse one ponders the same question: “. . . no man knows whether love or hate awaits him.” We do not know the future.

Life has many troublesome questions. We can debate what befalls us (as Job did with his friends), but in the final analysis, God has the final word (as indicated in Job 38-41). Life is often an argument with God, nevertheless, God is unalterable and the more we argue and talk, the emptier and more unsatisfactory we become. We all have severe restraints and our best attempts fall woefully short. The world does not have the power to satisfy or provide happiness—only emptiness and continuing wonder. The wisdom literature admonishes us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning (chief part) of wisdom”.

In this mystery of life and our quandary about it, we often remain skeptical that God really cares. Isaiah puts it succinctly in 49:15: “Can a mother forget her baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” The answer to the question in verse 12 is that no one “can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone.” All accounts must be settled in this life, short as it may be.

The question “what is good” is answered in chapter seven. Solomon gives a series of proverbs in which he provides the answer to what is “good” or “better”. These proverbs show that there are many things that are more profitable than prosperity, fame or authority. So, verse twelve is not the climax to Solomon’s quest to find answers to the question of how to act and respond to “what will happen under the sun” when we are all gone. The ultimate answer is to look “above the sun” where God dwells.


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