Solomon begins this book with these words in Ecclesiastes 1:2, “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”  Solomon had learned that all the world has to offer is vanity, or is useless.  He compounds that word (vanity of vanities) to express that all the world has to offer is complete and utter vanity.  His father, King David, expressed a similar thought in Psalm 39:5, “Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.”

Ecclesiastes, chapter six, can be divided into three parts:

  • Verses 1-2 – having riches, but not ability to enjoy them.
  • Verses 3-9 – having all things, but having no fulfillment.
  • Verses 10 – the depression of a sad ending.

Verse 2 speaks of a man that has been blessed with “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.”  How this must be so frustrating; having riches and honor, but not have the ability to enjoy it.  “A stranger” refers to some unknown person who would inherit his riches and would enjoy them.  If we look to the riches and fame of the world to give us happiness, we will be sorely disappointed.  Even if we are able to enjoy the things of the world for a while, they will eventually prove themselves to be worthless and vain.  The Lord instructs us in 1 Timothy 6:8, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”  If we look to the riches of the world to satisfy us, we will soon find out that “…the eyes of man are never satisfied.” (Proverbs 27:20)  The natural man is never satisfied with what he has.  He always wants more.  There is no contentment with him.

We then read in verse 3 that, “If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.”  Without the Lord in our lives, even a big family will not bring us true and permanent happiness.  Even if he has 100 children, yet none of them will provide him with a burial, he is a miserable man, indeed.  A ‘stillborn’ child is better off than this miserable man.  We read of this ‘stillborn’ child in verses 5-6, “Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this hath more rest than the other. Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place?”  Although this child would never see the sun or know anything, he would still be better off than the man, who looked for happiness in the world, even if that man lived for 2000 years.

We read in verse 7 that, “All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.”  All the natural man does is for self-pleasure, yet he will never be satisfied by what the world has to offer.  The Lord Jesus asked this question in Mark 8:36, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”  If a man could have the whole world, with all its wealth, power and fame, it does not compare with the value of his eternal soul.

Solomon ends this depressing chapter by saying in verses 11-12, “Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? 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?”  Indeed, who knows what is good for man in this life, which is over so quickly?  When we give ourselves to accumulating wealth and worldly goods, we will eventually be miserable.  I encourage you to read Ecclesiastes, chapter 7, where Solomon speaks of those things we should occupy ourselves with, those things that are good for man in this life.  (200.2)