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Ecc 6:1 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is heavy on men-
Solomon feels that not being able to take wealth beyond the grave is "evil" (Ecc. 4:8; 5:13; 6:2). If Solomon had instead humbled himself to accept that his wealth was a gift from God by grace, in response to his choice of wisdom, then he would not have had all this regret about being wealthy and being unable to use it beyond the grave.

Ecc 6:2 a man to whom God gives riches, wealth, and honour, so that he lacks nothing for his soul of all that he desires, yet God gives him no power to eat of it, but an alien eats it. This is vanity, and it is an evil disease-
Solomon clearly has himself in view, for he was the one to whom God gave wealth, and in Ecc. 5:19 he says that God has also given him in this life the opportunity to enjoy it. He recognizes this as indeed "the gift of God", but then blames God for having given him a life which therefore had no time for self reflection, because of the joy of this life which God had given him (Ecc. 5:20). But even this apparent gratitude to God is nuanced by Solomon's complaint in Ecc. 6:2 that he has been given wealth, but his death stops him from ultimately enjoying it. He really is acting even in old age as the spoilt child he had always been. His comment that wealth is a gift from God is nuanced by his statements here, making it sarcastic. And this is far from the only place in Ecclesiastes where the author is sarcastic about God's gifts. The prospect of eternal death led him to see any gifts in this life as of very limited value and therefore also "vanity".  

Truth  flowed  through  Solomon's  mouth  with ease, but took no lodgment at all in his heart. Truth, absolute and pure, flows through our hands in such volume. Bible study after Bible study, chapter  after  chapter... But does it mean anything  at  all  to us? Prov. 6:26 warns the young man that the Gentile woman will take his money and leave him destitute at the end. These words seem to be alluded to by Solomon years later in Ecc. 6:2, where he laments that despite his wealth and success, a Gentile  would have it all after his death. He saw in later life that  his  warnings  to  the young men of Israel had been in the form of painting a picture of a typical young man who epitomized youthful  folly;  but  now  he  saw  that  he  had been making a detailed prophecy of himself.

The stranger / Gentile that would take Hezekiah's wealth was Babylon. Hezekiah had a very short time to enjoy his wealth and couldn't do so. In the Hezekiah context, we see how he feels he along with all men struggles with "sickness" all his days (Ecc. 5:17). And he sees as an "evil disease" the fact a foreigner, a Gentile, will consume his wealth- just as Isaiah said the Babylonians would do (Ecc. 6:2). Hezekiah had been miraculously healed of one disease (s.w. Is. 38:9 "he had been sick, and had recovered of his sickness"), but he complains that the wealth he had chosen after it was the most evil sickness; and he now complains that his "sickness" is with him every day. He failed to have an abiding gratitude for his healing.  

Ecc 6:3 If a man fathers a hundred children, and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not filled with good, and moreover he has no burial; I say, that a stillborn child is better than he-
Having had 1000 wives, Solomon surely is the man in view, who had fathered many children and also lived a long life. But for all his wealth, and the ability to enjoy it in this life (Ecc. 5:19), he felt his soul had not been filled with good, and that he would be despised after his death, his name covered in darkness and shame (:4). This is the meaning of the idiom of a man having no burial; it is not always to be taken literally. See on Ecc. 7:1. He knew he had oppressed his people and would be bitterly remembered for it after his death (1 Kings 12:11). He understands so well his situation; and yet refuses to repent.

Solomon concludes that despite having every material blessing, a man can still not be satisfied (s.w. Ecc. 4:8; 6:3). But in Proverbs he thinks that the righteous do satisfy their souls in this life (Prov. 13:25). But he thought that this would be experienced in this life, rather than in any future Kingdom of God on earth. As he got closer to death, he realized that he had not satisfied his soul despite all his wealth. And so he concluded that righteousness was vain, and turned away from Yahweh. This is what happens when we lose the perspective of the future Kingdom of God.

It is possible to see Solomon as an anti-Christ, as well as a type of Christ; like Saul, he was both a type of Christ, and also the very opposite of the true Christ. This point is really brought out in Is. 53:11, where the true Messiah is described as being “satisfied” with the travail or labour of his soul, and will thereby bring forth many children. The Hebrew words used occur in close proximity in several passages in Ecclesiastes, where Solomon speaks of how all his “travail” or “labour” has not “satisfied” him, and that it is all the more vain because his children may well not appreciate his labour and will likely squander it (Ecc. 1:8; 4:8; 5:10; 6:3). Likewise the ‘Babylon’ system of Revelation, replete with its feature of 666, is described in terms which unmistakably apply to Solomon’s Kingdom. This feature of Solomon- being both a type of Christ and yet also the very opposite of the true Christ- reflects the tragic duality which we will observe at such length in our later studies.

Seeing the Preacher has no future hope, he considers style of burial to be quite significant. Whereas for those with Hope of the Kingdom, burial is insignificant. We note he considers that length of life and number of children are irrelevant and not really blessings because the eternal finality of death is so huge. But these are the very blessings promised for obedience to the old covenant. He therefore despises what blessings God does offer- so major does death loom in his thinking. Alternatively, "no burial" may mean 'no good burial', with people lamenting his passing and praising him for his life. Hezekiah sacrificed the future blessing of his own sons, his people, Jerusalem and the temple- for the sake of 15 years peaceful life for himself. So he knew he would not be much lamented for. When terminally ill, he lamented that he had no male heir. Now he says that even having 100 sons is meaningless seeing that death [as he wants to understand it] is final and eternal.

Hezekiah considers that it were better never to have been born, seeing life is so tragic. The Lord may allude to this when saying of Judas "It would have been better if that man had not been born" (Mt. 26:24). But Hezekiah seems to eagerly want to appropriate this ultimate curse to himself, because he just would not accept any future dimension to life.

The wish to be a miscarried foetus is exactly the feeling of Job (Job 3:16). Already Job 1:21 "Naked I came out of my mother's womb and naked I shall return" has been alluded to in Ecc. 5:15. But Job had sure hope of resurrection, whereas koheleth would not be led by his feelings to that conclusion and hope. Just as he alludes to the curse in Eden but not the promise of hope made in Eden, so he dwells upon the depressive phases of Job and not the hope Job expresses.

Ecc 6:4 for it comes in vanity, and departs in darkness, and its name is covered with darkness-
The "it" is the soul or person of :3. Solomon feels he may as well not have existed, and considers himself no better than a stillborn child (:3). In Ecc. 5:17 Solomon has complained that he had lived his whole life in the depression of darkness. He knows he will be despised after his death because of his oppression of his people (see on :3). This continues the thought of Ecc. 5:17; that he was frustrated and angry as he faced death and final sickness; and he feels that this is in fact how he has always been, eating his sumptuous meals in the darkness of depression. And this again is absolutely true to observed experience; the feelings of old age depression are extrapolated by the sufferer and assumed to have been how their entire lives have been, whether or not that was the case.

Koheleth sees darkness as inevitable. Man by nature lives in it and then dies in eternal darkness (Ecc. 5:17; 6:4). Isaiah's response is that God's light from Zion can burst into that darkness: "Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night... Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee... the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light" (Is. 59:9,10; 60:1,2,19).  

Ecc 6:5 Moreover it has not seen the sun nor known it. This has rest rather than the other-
GNB: "It never sees the light of day or knows what life is like, but at least it has found rest". The reference is to the stillborn child of :3, but Solomon is saying that whether one lives just a few moments in the womb or thousands of years (:6), the reality of the "rest" of death is such that life has no meaning. Solomon's abuse of his own people, whipping them at the end (1 Kings 12:11), was a reflection of how he failed to perceive the value and meaning of his own life, and this was reflected [as it is in the behaviour of abusers today] in how he treated  the lives of others. If Solomon had accepted the basic Biblical truth that life is a gift from God, as his father David had understood (Ps. 139:15), then he would have realized his need to use that life for God and not himself. And his value of the human person and the lives of others would have subsequently been transformed. The same is true of Hezekiah, who traded 15 years of personal peace for the welfare of his sons and his people.

Ecc 6:6 Yes, though he live a thousand years twice told, and yet fails to enjoy good, don’t all go to one place?-
Solomon speaks in Ecclesiastes 6 of the tragedy of possessing all things but being unable to enjoy them, because fulfilling one's own natural desires one after another really isn't much of a life. And thus he came to despise the concept of eternal life because he saw no point in life itself (see on :5); "A thousand years" was likely a figure for eternity. He conceived of eternal life as being life as we now know it; and he didn't really want to live for ever as he'd fulfilled every natural desire. There's a real warning for us here. If we see the eternity of the Kingdom as a big carrot for us, it may not actually be that motivating for us in the long run of spiritual life. It is the quality and nature of that life which is surely important to us, and not the mere infinity of it. Indeed, eternal life as we now know it would be a curse rather than a blessing. 

Hezekiah had been given 15 years, not so long, but he now realizes that if had been given 2000 years he would still be unhappy. Or perhaps the idea is 1000 x 1000, one million years. Long life is shown not to be the benchmark of happiness nor success. He traded eternity for 15 years but later realized that was a bad deal. He now reflects that eternity for 2000 or one million years would be an equally bad deal. For what can a man give in exchange for his soul. Probably the Lord came to that understanding from reflection upon Ecclesiastes. Even the whole world would be a bad deal. The Lord's mind went over this path in the wilderness temptations. God left Hezekiah, as He departed from Saul, after the visitors from Babylon came. To show Hezekiah what was in his heart. And here we have it all written down.

Ecc 6:7 All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled-
The appetite [Heb. ‘soul’] continues the commentary upon the human person or soul which began in :3. These verses explain the sense of weariness and vanity which there is in our world. Human labour is required just to keep alive, but there is no satisfaction from it in ultimate terms. Solomon is here rejecting the whole message of the Gospel in Gen. 3. Indeed man is cursed to eat bread in the sweat of his face; but Gen. 3:15 opens up the possibility of overcoming that curse, through the Messianic seed of the woman. But Solomon had no place in his thinking for this Messianic seed, assuming he was the one. And so, like all who reject Christ, he was left labouring in the sweat of his face for a soul / appetite which can never be fulfilled without Him.

Ecc 6:8 For what advantage has the wise more than the fool? What has the poor man, who knows how to walk before the living?-
This shows how effectively he despised his wisdom; he lost sight of the Kingdom which it led to ultimately, and the God manifestation which it could enable in this life. LXX "since the poor man knows how to walk before life?". Solomon in Proverbs has consistently seen the poor as foolish, poor because they are fools. But he now thinks that the fools walk as do the "wise" and there is no real ultimate advantage of wisdom over folly. This is a specific retraction of all his wisdom as published in his anthology of his wisdom in the book of Proverbs.

Ecc 6:9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind-
LXX "waywardness of spirit", parallel with the wandering of desire. Again Solomon has himself in view, for in Ecc. 2 he describes how his desire wandered and he sought to fulfil those desires, be they sexual or in the desire to engage in science, agriculture, building schemes etc. Again, we note that Solomon's self criticism was so penetrating and accurate. But mere possession of knowledge, correct analysis, will not save. It is humble faith in grace which is needed in order to elicit repentance, but Solomon had none of that.

The idea may be that what you have in your hand now in present reality is better than fantasy. Hezekiah is the classic example of this- he traded 15 years of peace here and now for the unseen things of the future Kingdom, which he sees now as merely fantasy, the wandering of desire into abstract things. And that is how secular man sees the Gospel of the Kingdom. It's hard cash right now, experienced reality at this moment, that trumps any hope of future blessing.

Solomon’s proverbs about not eating too much honey (Prov. 25:16) clearly mean that we shouldn’t over indulge legitimate human pleasures. But his approach in Ecclesiastes was the studied opposite of this. He openly says that he indulged himself in every human pleasure to the extreme, until it meant nothing. And yet he had warned against doing this very thing. Having  stated  that  he  sees no particular advantage of Divine wisdom, Solomon goes on to allude to his own wandering of desire (Ecc. 6:9);  he  had  been given all a man could wish, his desire knew  no  bounds,  and  yet  it  wandered.  This  is yet another powerful challenge from Solomon; his every desire was satisfied, but  still  he  felt that his desires were unfulfilled (Ecc. 1:8; 6:7).  So  much  of  our  mental  and  physical energy goes into gratification  of  desire, even though it is heavily camouflaged beneath  social  respectability  and  achieving the norms of our community. Yet if we believe the lesson of Solomon, the only man who  actually  had every desire gratified, then we will shun all this-  and  fix  our  hope  and every striving on Christ and his Kingdom alone.  

Ecc 6:10 Whatever has been, its name was given long ago; and it is known what man is; neither can he contend with him who is mightier than he-
This continues the theme which Solomon developed at the beginning of Ecclesiastes; that all is cyclical, without ultimate progress. Nothing is new. And if there is indeed a God, then He is "mightier" than man, and so all relationship with Him is pointless, seeing that He will not allow man to take his wealth with him beyond the grave. This denial that anything radically new can appear, no deeper insight into the human condition, is another way of Solomon abrogating his previous wisdom. For that wisdom had indeed sought to explain "what man is" and to furnish new insights and understanding. Solomon seems to have in mind Job's desperate thoughts, that no man can contend with God because of His mightiness (Job 9:3). But he fails to as it were read to the end of the book, where Job repents, and is brought to the glorious realization that relationship with God is wonderfully possible, and indeed eagerly sought by God with man.

Hezekiah had reasoned with God to get another 15 years, but now he concludes that God foreknew that and so he rationalized away the wonder of intercessory prayer. This is a big theme in Ecclesiastes: "Is there a thing of which it may be said, Behold, this is new? It has been long ago, in the ages which were before us...  what can the king’s successor do? Just that which has been done long ago... That which is has been long ago, and that which is to be has been long ago" (Ecc. 1:10; 2:12; 3:15). Contra this, true spirituality is about "singing a new song" and living in newness of life. Is. 56:12 puts these ideas of endless repetition in the mouths of the condemned: "Let us drink wine for tomorrow will be just like today!". Ecc. 6:10 laments that there is nothing named that has not already been named. But Is. 62:2 speaks of a day when God's people shall be named by a new name that has not previously been named.

Ecc 6:11 For there are many words that create vanity. What does that profit man?-
This is said by Solomon in the context of abrogating the importance of the wisdom he has previously taught; see on :8. The "many words" would then be a reference to the many words he had written himself in codifying that wisdom. The criticism of "many words" in Ecc. 5:7 and 6:11 seems a reference to his own writing down of the wisdom God had given him, codifying it into books such as the compilation we have in the book of Proverbs (Ecc. 12:10,12). He associates the "many words" with "dreams", perhaps an intensive plural for "a great dream" (Ecc. 5:7). It was as a result of the dream of 1 Kings 3:5 that he was given the "many words" of wisdom which he now considered unhelpful and irrelevant because death meant that there was no particular ultimate advantage of wisdom over folly; wisdom was at best profitable in this life in some short term sense. And he therefore associates "many words" with folly (Ecc. 10:14). He considers he had been foolish by preaching and believing those many words of Divine wisdom. Now, for him, the true wisdom was in idolatry and not Yahweh worship in His temple. For he had forsaken worshipping at Yahweh's temple and instead worshipped in the idol temples he had built nearby (1 Kings 11:4-8).

Again we see the theme of "profit", and note Paul's allusion to it- that indeed there is no advantage / profit in life if the dead rise not.


Ecc 6:12 For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he spends like a shadow? For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?
The obvious answer is "God", but Solomon had turned away from God to idols. Surely Solomon writes this knowing that his words elicit the answer: "God". Yet he believed that God was powerless to resurrect man to judgment after his death (Ecc. 3:22), and so we can read this as deep sarcasm against God.

The allusion is to the days added by the returned shadow. Hezekiah cynically reflects that the shadow all the same comes forward. "Who can tell a man...?" recalls the complaint in Ecc. 3 that 'Who can resurrect a man to see the future?'. The answer is God, through the work of His Son.
God did not create in vain, He "did not say Seek me, in vain" (Is. 45:18,19). Isaiah has the lack of vanity as a major theme after Is. 40. He is as it were in dialogue with Ecclesiastes. God showed Israel new things but they refused to perceive them, "they are created now and not from the beginning" (Is. 48:6,7); this is Isaiah's counter to Hezekiah's complaint that there is no new thing. "I have not spoken in secret " (Is. 48:16) , "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near" (Is. 55:6) answers the complaint that God is too hard to understand and is concealing Himself. 

Hezekiah reasons that the pursuit of pleasure is "vanity" (Ecc. 2:1,10; 6:9), and likewise he often says that life itself is "vanity" (Ecc. 6:12; 7:15; 9:9; 11:10). So our life experience is according to what we are pursuing. If we pursue vain things, our life is vain. Herein lies the huge power of "seek first the Kingdom of God". If that is our passion, then our life likewise becomes of eternal moment. Self examination is about perceiving what are our core desires, our deepest dreams, our deepest heart wish.

Hezekiah saw the brevity of life very sharply, seeing he knew he only had 15 years left. This is why he so often speaks of human work: "all the toil that one has toiled under the sun” (7 times) or "the work that is done” (8 times), "(one’s) toil” (12 times) or “ all the work” (5 times). He asks what is the profit, the advantage, the gain- using accounting, business terms. He uses the idea 17 times in Ecclesiastes. And he sees, rightly, that if death is the final end- then it was all pointless, much expenditure for no end result. Surely Paul had reflected on this in 1 Cor. 15, which seems a sustained reflection on Ecclesiastes. Under Divine inspiration he wrote that "what advantage is there if the dead rise not", and our labour is NOT vanity "in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58). He writes that in conclusion of his teaching about the huge significance of the Lord's resurrection, which enables ours. This alone is what makes human labour meaningful and not meaningless. It gives eternal moment to all our being and labour. Striving for a career and human achievement can be painted as very noble and satisfying. But in the hard stare of death, it all crumbles.