This chapter begins with Solomon complaining that the Lord had given him great wealth but did not give him the ability to enjoy it.  He says that unexpected death comes in and all his wealth is enjoyed by someone else.  We read in verses 1-2, “There is an evil which I have seen UNDER THE SUN, and it is common among men: A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease.” 

As Solomon considers life “under the sun”, he is disturbed by the seeming futility of life.  In verses 3-6, he speaks of the pointlessness of living a long life with many children just to die without mourners to give him a proper burial.  This was considered to be worse than never being born.  To not have a proper burial was thought to be a complete disregard for one’s life and disrespectful to the deceased.  Such was the case of King Jehoiakim in Jeremiah 22:18-19, “Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory! He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”  What a disgrace!

In verses 7-9, Solomon speaks of the futility of working hard only to gain food to be consumed (v. 7), seeing very little difference between the rich and the poor at the end of life (v. 8), and having no idea what the future may bring (v. 9).  To Solomon at this point this is only ‘vanity and vexation of the spirit.’

In verses 10-12, Solomon concludes that God alone controls everything and that true understanding of the present and future is very limited.  He concludes this passage by writing in verse 12, “For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him UNDER THE SUN?”  Once again, Solomon uses the expression, “under the sun.”  In fact, he uses that expression 27 times in this book of Ecclesiastes.  This book is given to us as considering how the natural man sees things.  He only can see what is revealed by the sun’s light. 

Does all this mean that we have absolutely no choice in this life?  Let’s consider a few verses:

  • Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore CHOOSE LIFE, that both thou and thy seed may live.”
  • Joshua 24:15, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, CHOOSE YOU THIS DAY whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” 
  • Ezekiel 33:11, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”  A CHOICE OFFERED!
  • Matthew 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”  A CHOICE MADE!

Does the Lord answer our prayers according to our requests?  Let’s consider a few verses:

  • John 15:16, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that WHATSOEVER YE SHALL ASK OF THE FATHER IN MY NAME, HE MAY GIVE IT YOU.”
  • James 4:2, “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet YE HAVE NOT, BECAUSE YE ASK NOT.”
  • James 5:16, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. THE EFFECTUAL FERVENT PRAYER OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN AVAILETH MUCH.”

I believe we can clearly see that the Lord does, indeed, call upon us to make decisions and that He hears and responds to the prayers of His saints.  (469.6)