Ecclesiastes 6 (New Living Translation)
1 There is another serious tragedy I have seen under the sun, and it weighs heavily on humanity. 2 God gives some people great wealth and honor and everything they could ever want, but then he doesn’t give them the chance to enjoy these things. They die, and someone else, even a stranger, ends up enjoying their wealth! This is meaningless—a sickening tragedy.
3 A man might have a hundred children and live to be very old. But if he finds no satisfaction in life and doesn’t even get a decent burial, it would have been better for him to be born dead. 4 His birth would have been meaningless, and he would have ended in darkness. He wouldn’t even have had a name, 5 and he would never have seen the sun or known of its existence. Yet he would have had more peace than in growing up to be an unhappy man. 6 He might live a thousand years twice over but still not find contentment. And since he must die like everyone else—well, what’s the use?
I used to tell my children that if they said they were bored, it said more about them than about their situation. I feel the same way about contentment.
This poor hypothetical man, who lives to be 2000 and has 100 children, yet finds life meaningless — he has been blind to what is right there in front of him! To name just a few: the joys of sunrise and sunset, the beauty of flowering plants, the deliciousness of certain foods, the delight of laughter with good friends, the satisfaction of a child learning to do a new task, the wonder of a rainbow, the peacefulness of lying down to sleep after a busy day, the gentleness of a friendly smile, and on and on.
Oh, Lord, give me eyes to see and ears to hear the many blessings that you put in my life day after day after day!
7 All people spend their lives scratching for food, but they never seem to have enough. 8 So are wise people really better off than fools? Do poor people gain anything by being wise and knowing how to act in front of others?
9 Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless—like chasing the wind.
Doris Day singing “Que Sera, Sera.” I remember my mother answering some of my childhood questions with this same answer!
The Future—Determined and Unknown
10Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny. 11 The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they?
12 In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? Our lives are like a shadow. Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone?
We can explain Solomon’s lack of knowledge of the afterlife by understanding the principle of 2 Timothy 2:10: that Jesus Christ brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. The understanding of immortality was at best cloudy in the Old Testament, but is much clearer in the New Testament. For example, we can say that Jesus knew fully what He was talking about when He described hell and judgment (such as in Matthew 25:41-46). We therefore rely on the New Testament for our understanding of the afterlife, much more than the Old.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.