It’s been a while since I decided to do this study and am way behind, time to pick up where I left off…
6I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on mankind:2God gives some people wealth, possessions and honor, so that they lack nothing their hearts desire, but God does not grant them the ability to enjoy them,and strangers enjoy them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.
3A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillbornchild is better off than he.4It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded.5Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man6even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity. Do not all go to the same place?
7Everyones toil is for their mouth,
yet their appetite is never satisfied.
8What advantage have the wise over fools?
What do the poor gain
by knowing how to conduct themselves before others?
9Better what the eye sees
than the roving of the appetite.
This too is meaningless,
a chasing after the wind.
10Whatever exists has already been named,
and what humanity is has been known;
no one can contend
with someone who is stronger.
11The more the words,
the less the meaning,
and how does that profit anyone?
12For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless daysthey pass through like a shadow?Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone?
So here we go… Verse 1- 9 really gets point blank about the accumulation of stuff in this world. That no matter who we are, how rich we are, what we have collected, it is all pointless or meaningless as someone else gets it all in the end. The worst tragedy that is pointed out though is that for some people they gain everything this world has to offer and yet don’t enjoy any of it – they’re actually unable to enjoy it. Solomon here says it’s so bad for that to happen that it would be better if that person was a stillborn rather than live and experience that. Yikes!
What strikes out here is that God provides it all, yet He is also the One who makes sure the person cannot enjoy it. Getting no satisfaction from it no matter how hard they try. Why? One thought is that it is so they don’t depend on things to make them happy but rather focus on God and serving Him instead. They squander their resources on themselves instead of how it cam benefit God’s kingdom work and so as a result God does not allow them to enjoy it. Even having a huge family didn’t help this person out, it was still futile. The point is whether it is riches, fame, a large family, possessions, whatever, if a person tries to fill the God sized whole in their heart with this stuff, in the end it will all come up short and give the person no satisfaction.
It’s kind of like that old Rolling Stones song “Satisfaction” that says, “I can’t get no satisfaction,I can’t get no satisfaction,’Cause I try and I try and I try and I try”
Even in this song the lyrics tell of all the things that they tried and failed at having them satisfy them. From cars to advice on the radio to white shirts to cigarettes and more. None of it gave satisfaction. It never will, Nothing will except God. This is the point the author is making here I believe. And then to squander the resources on ourselves instead of seeing how we can use it for His glory is also an evil Solomon writes. Convicting stuff.
Now verse 10 – 12. In 10 it states how everything that exists already has a name. True – it was named in the garden of Eden by Adam. We may think when we as a society discover a new species that we have a new name, but really, it already had one from the time of creation. Nothing new under the sun once again rings in my ears here. In verse 11 it talks about how no one can contend with someone who is stronger. Who doesn’t love the underdog right? But really when it gets right down to it, who wins in a fight? The huge hulking mass of an individual or the 90 lb shrimp? When it comes to fighting a huge adversary I think of this image from the old Buggs Bunny cartoon…
Funny right? Yet how many times do we try in vain to fight against an adversary that is stronger than us – namely the Devil – without God empowering us? It’s a feeble attempt without God. Yet we as humans like to go in our own strength, our own wisdom, and see how we do. Silly. We need God alone to get through this world.
Verse 11 more words less meaning? Ever hear someone try and explain something and because they were so nervous or didn’t want to seem dumb they used more words and more words and more words? We’ve all done it I’m sure at times – sometimes without realizing it. When we do that we come off as either a know-it-all, or we give the impression that we don’t really know what we’re taking about so we’re just talking for the sake of talking. Both stem from pride. So do the other areas Solomon has mentioned so far – riches, wealth and power taking God’s place in our lives, our resources squandered on ourselves, the fighting an adversary much bigger than ourselves, and now words on top of words… all of it smells of pride because all of it says “I can do this myself without God. I can be satisfied without Him, I can be strong without Him, and I don’t have to use what He’s given me to help out His kingdom. Prideful and shameful. This is what Solomon was saying that all of this is evil and shameful in His sight. How does it profit anyone? he asks. The answer is it doesn’t.
He ends with…12 For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless daysthey pass through like a shadow?Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone? Really, apart from God who knows what is good for us? No one. Our parents try, our spouses try, our kids try, our teachers try, our mentors (if we have them) try – but ultimately no one knows the future right? God does. The last line tells about our legacy. We all want to leave our mark on this world somehow, to be remembered once we’re gone, but ultimately no one knows how or if we’ll be remembered once we’re gone. What matters is the here and now – how are we living now? Are we living with Christ as our focus and sharing what we have to help His cause, leaning on Him for strength? Or are we trying to be the lone wolf determined to do it on our own? If that’s us, then we need to evaluate and see how it’s working out for us. Beg for His forgiveness and seek first the kingdom of God.