Chapter Six OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To reflect upon the Preacher's observations gleaned from his search for the purpose of life 2) To understand the limitations of riches, and that the ability to enjoy them is a gift from God SUMMARY The Preacher continues his observations about the vanity of riches in this chapter (cf. 5:13-20). He describes a sad, but very common situation: a man blessed with riches, wealth and honor so that he has all that he desires; yet God does not let him have it, and it is consumed by someone else! Such a man, even if he has a hundred children and lives two thousand years, is described as no better than a stillborn child (1-6). His reflections on riches lead the Preacher to conclude that man's labor might feed his mouth, but it does not really satisfy the soul. It is better to have the sight of the eyes (i.e., to enjoy what you see), than to have the wandering of desire which is vanity and grasping for the wind. Since man cannot change that he is subject to life's vanities and unable to contend with God, accumulating many things may only increase vanity in this life. By asking who knows what is good in this short life, and who can tell what will happen in this life after we are gone, the Preacher implies that only God (and not the accumulation of wealth) provides the answer to the vanity of life "under the sun" (7-12). OUTLINE I. A SAD SITUATION (6:1-6) A. A COMMON AFFLICTION AMONG MEN (1-2) 1. To receive riches, wealth, and honor from God, all that one desires 2. Yet not be able to enjoy it a. Because God does not give him the ability or power to do so b. Instead a foreigner consumes it -- This is vanity, and an evil (grievous) affliction B. EVEN WITH MANY CHILDREN AND LONG LIFE (3-6) 1. Unless the soul is satisfied with goodness, a stillborn child is better off even though... a. It may come in vanity and depart in darkness b. It's name may be covered with darkness c. It has not seen the sun or known anything 2. For the stillborn child has more rest than one who suffers this affliction a. Even if he lives two thousand years b. For they all eventually go to the same place II. REFLECTIONS ON RICHES (6:7-12) A. RICHES CANNOT SATISFY THE SOUL (7-9) 1. They can be consumed, but don't really satisfy 2. They don't make the wise any better than the fool 3. They don't make one better than the poor who knows how to conduct himself properly - cf. Pr 15:16; 19:1; 28:6 -- Indeed, better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire, which is vanity and grasping for wind B. RICHES CANNOT CHANGE THE VANITY OF LIFE (10-12) 1. No matter what one becomes, he is still "man", unable to contend with God 2. Man is still subject to many things which increase the vanity of life a. Who knows what is good for man? 1) All the days of his vain life? 2) Which he passes like a shadow? b. Who can tell a man what will happen after him "under the sun"? -- Unless it be God, no one! REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - A sad situation (1-6) - Reflections on riches (7-12) 2) What does the Preacher see as a common affliction among men? (1-2) - Someone is given riches, wealth and honor - But God does not give him the ability to enjoy it 3) How is a stillborn child better than one who suffers such an affliction? (3-6) - The stillborn has more rest, never having seen the sun nor the turmoil of this life 4) What is not satisfied by all the labor of man? (7) - The soul of man 5) What is better than the wandering of desire? (9) - The sight of the eyes (i.e., enjoying the present, the good that one has) 6) What is unchangeable about man? (10) - He cannot contend with Him (i.e., God) who is mightier than he 7) Why is man no better by accumulating riches alone? (11) - Because many things increase vanity 8) What is man unable (without help from God) to determine? (12) - What is good in this life, which is passes like a shadow - What will happen after him in this life
The vanity of gain and honor
[Ecc 6:1-12 NKJV] 1 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it [is] common among men: 2 A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This [is] vanity, and it [is] an evil affliction. 3 If a man begets a hundred [children] and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say [that] a stillborn child [is] better than he-- 4 for it comes in vanity and departs in darkness, and its name is covered with darkness. 5 Though it has not seen the sun or known [anything], this has more rest than that man, 6 even if he lives a thousand years twice--but has not seen goodness. Do not all go to one place?
7 All the labor of man [is] for his mouth, And yet the soul is not satisfied.
8 For what more has the wise [man] than the fool? What does the poor man have, Who knows [how] to walk before the living?
9 Better [is] the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire. This also [is] vanity and grasping for the wind.
10 Whatever one is, he has been named already, For it is known that he [is] man; And he cannot contend with Him who is mightier than he.
11 Since there are many things that increase vanity, How [is] man the better?
12 For who knows what [is] good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun?