Let’s look at this interesting and practical passage verse-by-verse and see what we can learn.

Verse 8: “If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them” (NKJV). Even in Solomon’s day there was a two-fold evil: 1) OPPRESSION of the poor, and 2) PERVERSION of justice. This is sad to see and one could easily be astonished and depressed at such evil by those in positions of authority. But we must remember we are living in a very sinful world where those in authority are obsessed with not only power, but with money, and they are willing to “oppress the poor” and “pervert justice” in order to gain the “almighty dollar.” See James 5:1-6 as a commentary on this verse.

Verse 9: “Moreover the earth is every way profitable: the king [himself] is served from the field.” We just saw in verse 8 that men in higher positions of authority seek to take advantage of those that are poor, but here we learn that ALL MEN, for the lowest to the highest, are dependent on the harvest of the field. In this we see that ALL MEN are “dependent on God and accountable to Him,” for God alone gives the rain and sunshine that will determine the “harvest of the field.” There may be a “hierarchy of power” among men, but God holds the “highest place” and thus even the king (the “highest among men”) must count upon Him to bless him.

Verses 10-11: “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them; so what profit have the owners except to see them with their eyes?” There is an obvious connection here with verse 8, for those who are oppressing the poor and perverting justice in order to GAIN MONEY, will never be satisfied, nor is there any real profit in it. This is a recurring theme throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, for Solomon was searching for meaning and purpose in life and he tried everything “under the sun” to fill the void in his heart, including riches. Yet everything he tried had the same effect, which he sums up at the very beginning of this book with these words, “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?”  ”The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing” (1:2-3, 8). How tragic and sad! If only men would LOOK UP to their Creator and possible Savior, they would find true SATISFACTION and PROFIT. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” One can never really “enjoy life” until they have “the life” that Jesus offers them, which is “eternal life” (see John 3:16 and 5:24). He went to the cross in order to pay for our sins and acquire eternal life for us, and once we put our trust in Him for salvation, we will experience the “abundant life” He spoke about. He also said in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” When we come to Him for salvation and believe in Him, we will experience TRUE SATISFACTION. All the vain and empty things of “life under the sun” will pale in comparison to knowing our Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ. He will prove to be a “fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (see John 4:10-14).

Verse 12: The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.” At the end of the day, when one lays his head down to sleep, it is the “laboring man,” who has enjoyed the work the Lord has given him to do, will sleep through the night without a care in the world. The rich man who has been occupied with riches all day (worrying about the stock market, his bank account, whether or not his money is safe from thieves, etc.), will find his head swirling with anxious thoughts that may “rob him of sleep.” Solomon spoke of this man earlier in 2:23, “For all his days are sorrowful, and HIS WORK BURDENSOME; EVEN IN THE NIGHT HIS HEART TAKES NO REST. This also is vanity.”  (DO)  (512.5)