Scripture reading – Ecclesiastes 6

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Our study in the Book of Ecclesiastes continues with King Solomon echoing a sentiment I suggest can be summed up in four words: Life is not fair!

Five Strangers That Can Steal Happiness and Wealth (Ecclesiastes 6:1–2)

Ecclesiastes 6:1–21There is an evil [depravity; distress] which I have seen under the sun, and it is common [great] among men: 2A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour [abundance; glory], so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power [control] to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it [feeds upon and consumes his wealth]: this is vanity [empty], and it is an evil [bad; displeasing] disease [grief].

Observing and looking back on his life, Solomon concluded that some things are unjust. It is unfair that men labor their whole lives, storing riches, wealth, and possessions, only to leave it all to others. The king concluded that such was a common and universal grief.

Five “strangers” come to mind when I ponder common, universally unfair things that enter our lives uninvited and rob us of joy and prosperity.

Disease: Sickness not only consumes a man’s strength and vitality but may also ruin him physically and financially.

Divorce: It not only destroys a family, but legal expenses may plunder a family of its home, possessions, and savings.

Disobedience: Rebellious children rob parents not only of their joy but the woes of an unruly child can bring financial distress upon a family.

Disasters: Catastrophes such as natural calamities (hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes, drought) and human calamities (war and the danger of living in a violent society) can destroy a family’s wealth.

Death: The fifth and final “stranger” that will inevitably come knocking is the loss of a spouse, child, or the fact of one’s mortality.

Three Things Do Not Satisfy (Ecclesiastes 6:3-8)

Solomon proposed three things men pursue that do not bring happiness and fulfillment.

The first was the man who begets many children and lives many years (Ecclesiastes 6:3-6). Solomon observed children who were more concerned with their inheritance than with honoring their parents. He concluded it would be better to be stillborn as an infant than live to a ripe old age, and your children neither love nor honor you (Ecclesiastes 6:3-6).

Secondly, some believe if they work harder and longer hours, they will achieve success and happiness (Ecclesiastes 6:7). Yet, a man might climb the ladder of success, earn titles, and gain fame but still die a miserable soul.

Lastly, some pursue knowledge and believe academic achievement is the path to happiness (6:8). Nevertheless, having one’s name engraved on a “Who’s Who” plaque or earning the applause and admiration of men will not satisfy the hunger for eternity.

What path satisfies the longing in a man’s soul? (Ecclesiastes 6:9-12)

Having the proper perspective and outlook on life is the path to happiness (Ecclesiastes 6:9). It is better to be satisfied with what you see than it is to be driven about by lusts for temporal possessions and vain pleasures (Ecclesiastes 6:10). You see, God is eternal, and His purposes are “named already” (Ecclesiastes 6:11).

Did you know that nothing surprises God? He is sovereign, and we dare not “contend with Him,” for He is not only mightier but also wiser than we (Ecclesiastes 6:10).

Closing thoughts –

“Many things” might attract our attention and affection for a season. We might increase in riches, goods, and honors. Still, in the end, we come to Solomon’s conclusion: All is vanity (Ecclesiastes 6:11).

God is loving and benevolent (Ecclesiastes 6:12), and only those who trust Him will be satisfied.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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