On to Ecclesiastes 6:1-6
In this chapter we don’t find much instruction or wisdom. We don’t find hope, or the things of the Kingdom. This is a very important chapter, because it begins to share with us a wrong point of view – the worlds point of view (what the world embraces, how the world sees things and how the world provides). The purpose of this chapter is to discourage us from adopting this world view. It will leave us asking if there is perhaps another way to go, a better way to do things, a more satisfying way to live so that we do not have to embrace the lifestyle spoken of in this chapter. This chapter (like the law) does not reveal to us the message of salvation. It does not bring about a transformation in our lives, but it points to the fact that we are in desperate need of help/salvation (Yeshua), and transformation (through the Holy Spirit), if we are going to have any hope in this life.
v1: Evil: Although this is something that is against G-d’s will it is also something that Solomon sees as undesirable (not right in his eyes).
- Under the sun: An expression that speaks to this world.
- Common: Many, many people suffer from this problem of trying to find satisfaction but are looking for it in the wrong place.
v2: Anything Solomon wanted he got. He lacked nothing from a materialistic perspective but there was a problem…
- Yet G-d does not give him power to eat it: This is a Hebrew idiom meaning that he cannot enjoy it, he cannot partake of it. Scripturally the word ‘eat’ is often associated with being satisfied (Deut 8:10). What Solomon wanted G-d provided, but Solomon was not satisfied by it, he could not delight in it.
- A foreigner: Someone who is not a descendant of Jacob and who does not have a covenantal relationship with G-d. Solomon sees that this person is enjoying what he cannot. This teaches us a very important principle: G-d disciplines His own – what is permissible for the world, isn’t permissible for the people of G-d. There are going to be people in this world who act as if they are satisfied and content because they are being deceived by Satan. They think life is good. What they have they think truly satisfies them (and temporarily it does, because they aren’t thinking about eternal consequences), but for the believer we won’t find satisfaction in these things. The people of G-d are held to a different standard.
- Evil affliction: Evil disease. A person doesn’t feel whole. They are not at peace within themselves. Solomon had achieved all that he had set out to achieve and he was left with a bad taste in his mouth. We need to be careful about what we pursue.
v3: One hundred children: Usually children are thought of as a source of joy.
- The days of his years are many: This means that his years are abundant – they are not empty years.
- His soul is not satisfied with goodness: Even though he has many years to live and redo (and live and redo) he still never finds satisfaction and the conclusions always stay the same.
- He has no burial: This carries with it an image of shame. Instead of living in a way that brought him honour in the end he was left with shame.
- Stillborn: Delivered into this world but arrives here dead – never experiencing anything of this world. Solomon is saying that the stillborn baby is better off than himself – who has all the wealth, possessions, pleasure etc that a man could possibly want.
v4-5: These verses are still speaking about the stillborn baby.
- Comes in vanity: This birth has been in vain, it’s futile. Birth is usually associated with life and joy. This birth has neither.
- Darkness: There is a connection between darkness and death.
- Its name is covered with darkness: Because this child has never lived (never known pain, pleasure, comfort) no one will know his character, etc. Death took away all that he was. At this point Solomon feels as if this is the preferable option when compared to the unsatisfying life he is living.
v6: A thousand years twice over =2000 years.
- Has not seen goodness: Experienced no satisfaction.
- All go to one place: We all experience death…even the stillborn, who never really lived, experienced death. In this verse we see that Solomon has a great theological problem – he thinks that death is the end, with nothing beyond it. When we do not have a Kingdom Hope, when we do not look at this world and our life from a Kingdom perspective, everything becomes meaningless because we have no Kingdom expectation. We will see every day as just moving us closer to death with nothing beyond that. Without a faithful and sure expectation of the age to come, and being prepared for it, our outlook on life would become very cynical. We will begin to believe that everything is in vain rather than understanding that things in this world can be used and invested in the Kingdom of G-d. When we have this latter perspective everything changes.