Ecclesiastes 6

6 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavily upon men:

2 A man to whom God has given riches, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing for his soul of all that he might desire, yet God does not give him the power or capacity to enjoy them [things which are gifts from God], but a stranger [in whom he has no interest succeeds him and] consumes and enjoys them. This is vanity (emptiness, falsity, and futility); it is a sore affliction!(A)

3 If a man begets a hundred children and lives many years so that the days of his years are many, but his life is not filled with good, and also he is given no burial [honors nor is laid to rest in the sepulcher of his fathers], I say that [he who had] an untimely birth [resulting in death] is better off than he,(B)

4 For [the untimely one] comes in futility and goes into darkness, and in darkness his name is covered.

5 Moreover, he has not seen the sun nor had any knowledge, yet he [the stillborn child] has rest rather than he [who is aware of all that he has missed and all that he would not have had to suffer].

6 Even though he lives a thousand years twice over and yet has seen no good and experienced no enjoyment—do not all go to one place [the place of the dead]?

7 All the labor of man is for his mouth [for self-preservation and enjoyment], and yet his desire is not satisfied.(C)

8 For what advantage has the wise man over the fool [being worldly-wise is not the secret to happiness]? What advantage has the poor man who has learned how to walk before the living [publicly, with men’s eyes upon him; being poor is not the secret to happiness either]?

9 Better is the sight of the eyes [the enjoyment of what is available to one] than the cravings of wandering desire. This is also vanity (emptiness, falsity, and futility) and a striving after the wind and a feeding on it!

10 Whatever [man] is, he has been named that long ago, and it is known that it is man [a][Adam]; nor can he contend with Him who is mightier than he [whether God or death].

11 Seeing that there are [all these and] many other things and words that increase the emptiness, falsity, vainglory, and futility [of living], what profit and what outcome is there for man?

12 For who [[b]limited to human wisdom] knows what is good for man in his life, all the days of his vain life which he spends as a shadow [going through the motions but accomplishing nothing]? For who can tell a man what will happen [to his work, his treasure, his plans] under the sun after he is gone?


  1. Ecclesiastes 6:10 The Hebrew “Adam” means man, of the ground. The very name witnesses to his frailty.
  2. Ecclesiastes 6:12 How impressive throughout Ecclesiastes is the evidence that, while Solomon is doing his utmost to prove that life is futile and not worth living, the Holy Spirit is using him to show that these conclusions are the tragic effect of living “under the sun”—ignoring the Lord, dwelling away from God the Father, oblivious of the Holy Spirit—and yet face to face with the mysteries of life and nature!

Cross references

  1. Ecclesiastes 6:2 : Luke 12:20.
  2. Ecclesiastes 6:3 : Job 3:16.
  3. Ecclesiastes 6:7 : Prov. 16:26.

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