Ecclesiastes 5-6

A natural division begins with chap. 5, which may be said to stretch over the following chapters also. It has the form of exhortation at the start, but soon passes into the prevalent character of the book. The first of rights is that God should have His; all is wrong when God is left out; and this is quite the root of the misery in man and the world. Yet neither the house of God, nor utterance before Him, nor vows to Him, can rescue from folly or vanity. Hearing from God takes precedence of speaking to Him. The weakness of man, fallen as he is, pursues him everywhere. The sole resource for the wise man is to fear God. Without this the religious effort but increases the danger. And the conviction of One higher than the high preserves from wonder. As yet all is out of course. So far is rank or wealth from Him all. A king depends on the field; and no resources satisfy the possessor, but fall to others; so that the laborer's lot is often preferable, and riches a hurt instead of a comfort, and no permanency either, and thus he goes as he came naked. Where the profit of such labor? When things are received from God as His gift, how sad to see riches, possessions, honor, with incapacity to enjoy! Long life, and numerous offspring, in such a case do not extract the sting: he is worse off than an abortion. Insatiable desire ruins all. Contention is vain with Him that is mightier than he. God, not man, knows what is good for him, and God reveals an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and unfading reserved in heaven; but till Christ died and rose, it was comparatively hidden. Misery here was plain, especially to the wise.
“Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God; for to draw nigh to hear is better than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they know not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon the earth: therefore let thy words he few. For a dream cometh with a multitude of business: and a fool's voice with a multitude of words. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou vowest. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thy hands? For in the multitude of dreams and many words [are] also vanities: but fear thou God.
“If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and the violent taking away of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for one higher than the high regardeth; and there are higher than they. Moreover the profit of the earth is every way: the king is served by the field.
“He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this also is vanity. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what advantage is there to the owner thereof, save the beholding of them with his eyes? The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the fullness of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.
“There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun, riches kept by the owner thereof to his hurt; and those riches perish by evil adventure; and if he hath begotten a son, there is nothing in his hand. As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he go again as he came, and shall take nothing of his labor, which he may carry away in his hand. And this also is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that laboureth for the wind? All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he is sore vexed and hath sickness and irritation.
“Behold, that which I have seen to be good and to be comely is for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy good in all his labor, wherein he laboureth under the sun, all the days of his life which God hath given him: for this is his portion. Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him with the joy of his heart” (vers. 1-20).
Chap. 6.
“There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is heavy upon men: a man to whom God giveth riches, wealth, and honor, so that he lacketh 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. If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, but his soul be not filled with good, and moreover he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he. For it cometh in vanity, and departeth in darkness, and the name thereof is covered with darkness; moreover it hath not seen nor known the sun; this hath rest rather 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? All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled. For what advantage hath the wise more than the fool? what hath the poor man, that knoweth to walk before the living? Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this also is vanity and a striving after wind.
“Whatsoever hath been, the name thereof was given long ago, and it is known that it is man neither can he contend with him that is mightier than he. Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? For who knoweth what is good for man in 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"? (vers. 1-12).
What a contrast is this life of “days” and “vanity” and “shadow” with life eternal, now given in Christ to the believer and the bright hope of being with Him Who is its source and fullness where He is, and we shall have its perfect unhindered expansion and display in its proper heavenly sphere! But all was veiled then. Now life and incorruption Christ has brought to light through the gospel.