Is life a dead end street? If you are among those who have found no lasting enjoyment in any of life’s pursuits, it may seem so. This thought is not new. Moses, Elijah, Job, Jeremiah, Solomon, Jonah, Paul and other notable Bible figures struggled to the point where some “wished they’d never been born.”
In chapter 6 of Ecclesiastes Solomon struggles with the inequities of life he has seen.
V1-2 One of the great inequities in life according to Solomon is someone possessing wealth yet not being able (or allowed) to enjoy it for one reason or another.
- We need to realize that God controls both the giving of wealth and ability to enjoy it (Wm. Barrick)
V3-5 Solomon’s illustration switches to other forms of wealth. Culturally, being blessed with children was seen as possessing great wealth. (Ps 127:3-5)
- In Solomon’s view a stillborn child is better off than a man who faces nothing but frustration and disappointment his whole life with regards to his family.
- Stillborn children were not named in ages past as it was thought that by not naming a child it would facilitate the passing of grief
- No burial – culturally viewed as dishonorable; a person not receiving a proper burial would be viewed as cursed
V6 Long life – in ancient times long life is said to bring honor to ones parents. It is no guarantee, however, that a person will be remembered or that they will enjoy life more and experience an extra measure of happiness.
According to Warren Wiersbe, refusing to acknowledge the Giver (God) while enjoying gifts we receive is a form of idolatry. Likewise, searching for enjoyment apart from God equates to fleeting entertainment. But knowing God and finding enjoyment in his will offers lasting joy and satisfaction (enrichment).
V7-9 The word “satisfaction” here carries the meaning of being filled.
- A poor man labors with his muscles, while the rich man lets his wealth labor for him. They both labor for food. Why? Each strives to add years to their life.
- In nature, self-preservation is the first law of life. In man’s case this same desire for self-preservation leads to death (Mark 8:34-38).
- V9 is equivalent to the saying, “a bird in hand is worth more than two in the bush.” It is better to have something and enjoy it than have nothing but dreams.
Dr. David Jeremiah offers this perspective on work: You may be tempted to think: My boss is not God so why give it my all?
- Work makes life compelling and teaches us about ourselves
- Work brings us the pleasure of fruitfulness; we find meaning in it.
- Work is earthly, while joy is heavenly. How do we connect the two? We need to make sure the Holy Spirit supplies the power to help us find enjoyment in our work.
V10-12 Introduce us to the theme SOVERIEGN LORD, which the balance of Ecclesiastes concerns itself with.
V10 Named – naming displays authority. In the book of Genesis God named “light,” he also named “day”
Man – (adam) is formed from the earth and hence this is our standing in the grand scheme of things.
“Devote yourself not with the pursuit of happiness, but with discovering God’s purpose and plan for your life.” W. Wiersbe
v11 Words which increase futility – this exposes our critical need to spend time in God’s word. God’s word leads to life, man’s words are condemning.
What then is our advantage – Everyone wants an advantage, to use it to control his or her own destiny. We manipulate objects, circumstances and people trying to accomplish that aim. It is God that determines what happens to the individual. Striving against God accomplishes nothing (Isaiah 45:9-12)
V12 Who knows what is good for a man or woman – there is an expression, “God is good all the time, all the time God is good.”
GOOD is the bridge to Ecclesiastes chapter 7.
“Solomon systematically removes every rationale that a person might offer for the existence of inequalities in life “under the sun.” He places creature in contrast with Creator to exhibit mankind’s weakness in the presence of Almighty God.” Wm Barrick
God designed man in a certain way. He made us for himself. This is why success and riches never seem to satisfy because they lead us away from Him. The secret of life, finding heaven on earth has nothing to do with finding a treasure map that will lead us to treasure. The secret boils down to obedience. (Dr. D Jeremiah)