All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.
For what hath the wise more than the fool? what hath the poor, that knoweth to walk before the living?
Heaping up the material wealth and gain of this world will never satisfy the appetite. A man can feast all day, and still be hungry in the morning. Our appetites for our own comfort are ravenous, and will control us completely if we don’t recognize them for what they really are: Man’s effort to go beyond what God can do!
Man’s search for happiness is all for the satisfaction of worldly desires. There is little for the head, the spirit, the heart of man in this mad search for satisfaction.
Really, the wise man has very little more than the fool; even a poor man can learn how to behave among other men in a way that gains respect and honor.
I can almost see Solomon as he ponders these things, perhaps wondering what all his wisdom has gained him, and what real value there is in all his possessions. After all, as he said in yesterday’s passage, we all end in the same place. We all die and go to the grave, and all our wealth won’t do us any good there.
Kind of a gloomy perspective, isn’t it? That’s because, again, Solomon is looking at all this from man’s perspective (under the sun) and not from God’s viewpoint.
3 If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.
4 For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness.
5 Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this hath more rest than the other.
6 Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place?
I think this is one of the saddest passages in Ecclesiastes. It seems obvious to me that Solomon is thinking of himself here. I don’t think he had 100 children, but he did have many. After all, 300 wives, 700 concubines. I don’t know, maybe he DID have that many children!
Solomon’s soul was filled with good in his early years as king, but he grew farther and farther away from God as he brought more and more ungodly, Idolatrous women into his harem. He adopted their ways of worshiping idols. It would seem that his soul was no longer filled with good.
In fact, Solomon says that a miscarriage resulting in a dead baby is better than a man who is born in vanity, dies in darkness, and is soon forgotten.
Even if a man man were to live for two thousand years, he ends in the same place as that untimely birth. Both end in the grave, and Solomon believes that the baby who never saw the sun, never knew anything, is better off than the wealthy man who had no goodness in his soul.
How often do we learn that some wealthy, famous person has been found dead, having taken his own life because he was so desperately unhappy? One of the more recent was Robin Williams. He was a man who could make us all laugh, yet in his innermost spirit he was miserable.
Bill Cosby isn’t dead yet, and I hear he’s making plans for some new endeavors when he’s released from prison. Another man who could make us all laugh, but a man who was living two lives in conflict with each other. His fame and wealth were brought down by his lust for power.
We need to be satisfied with what God has given us. We need to beg God for a generous spirit, a heart for Him, and a life that honors the Creator Who made us.
“There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men:
2 A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth 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.”
Once again, Solomon speaks from “under the sun”–man’s perspective, which is often not the same as God’s perspective. Here he is pointing out a great evil he has observed: The riches, fame, wisdom that a man may accumulate in his lifetime can end up being enjoyed by others, even strangers like a king who subdues this wise man’s country, and confiscates all his riches for himself.
The Nazis certainly weren’t the first, nor will they be the last to take another man’s wealth for their own.
The Preacher (Solomon) sums up by saying that, in effect, riches, in the hands of a man that is wise and generous, are good for something, but in the hands of a sordid, sneaking, covetous miser, they are good for nothing. That miserly person will never be able to enjoy the fruit of his labors because his whole focus is on what he can amass in this life; he is not considering that there will be an eternity in which all his riches will do him no good whatsoever.
I really don’t know if it’s still a result of jet lag, or just that I spent two weeks being spoiled rotten 🙂 I’m just having a hard time getting into the groove here. My sleep isn’t normal, and a lot of other things are derailed along with it. Hoping for a change in the next few days.
My ever-cheerful husbands says, “We’re getting old, Linda. Things change.”
I don’t know about that. I do know I need a couple nights of solid, uninterrupted sleep.
Isn’t sleep a wonderful thing? God could have figured out some other way for us to restore our energy, but He chose sleep to be our restorative.
I love going to bed. So comfortable, and since I got my My Pillows and a new comforter, I’m literally sinking into a dreamy environment.
19 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 labour; this is the gift of God.
20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.
How often do we count our blessings, as the old gospel song says:
We in America live in a nation that has been richly blessed. We still have the right to practice our biblical faith. That, in itself, is something millions of people around the world do not have. Persecution of Christians is escalating all around the globe. Are we truly thankful?
I have a friend who has been keeping a Blessing List for many years. Every time she grows discouraged, disheartened, unhappy—she goes to her Blessing List and uses it to thank God . It’s a good idea, especially if you are more inclined to see the negative than the positive
When we learn to focus on our blessings, we won’t spend much time fretting over what we don’t have. God will so fill our hearts abundantly with the joy of the Lord that we will not be disheartened when trouble rears its head to scare us away from trusting the Lord.
Years ago, I did a year of practicum toward my master’s degree in a nursing home. One of my assigned residents was a miserable, lonely old man who never had anything but complaints. He could cite date,time, and surrounding circumstances of everything negative that had ever happened to him, and he was over 85 years old. Every detail of his wrongs was sharply etched into his memory.
No one ever visited him, and he could go on and on about that, too.
One day, dreading the visit, I stepped into his room. The moment he saw me, he started to complain about a nurse who had offended him earlier that day. She was a gentle soul, and she committed the terrible crime of asking him to please not repeat the story he had launched, because he had told her that story the day before. Deeply offended, he roared at her to get out of his blankety blank room and never come back.
And that’s the first thing he said to me that day. I’d had enough. I told him that I wanted him to have something good to tell me the next day. If he didn’t, I was going to leave. Not only that, but I told him I would no longer listen to his complaints about his caregivers, who had reported to me on several occasions that he’d been physically and verbally abusive.
He was angry, and I walked out on his tirade.
The next day, I stepped into his room and he was ready with a loud, angry volley of profanity. I simply turned and left. Same thing the next day, and the next. Finally, on the fourth day, he was quiet. I greeted him and asked for a good, positive story. He told me about the people who had taken him in when was orphaned at age seven. In the telling, he began to cry. He didn’t want to stop talking, and he didn’t want me to continue my rounds with my other residents. I had to tell him he could continue his story the next day.
It changed our relationship. I was even able to share my faith with him because he wanted to hear it, asked me more than once to talk about it.
I don’t know what happened to him. One day I checked in and my supervisor told me he’d been transferred to a different facility. She had no information, either. I’ve always wondered.
I share this lengthy story with you because it emphasizes verse 20. Once this man began to focus on the good in his life, he didn’t have the time or energy to go back to his negative, miserable habits. We have a great and merciful God Who, even in difficult times, has promised never to leave us or forsake us.
Eccl. 5:18. Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.
As I pondered this verse this morning, another scripture came to mind: I Timothy 6:17. ” Charge those who are rich in this world that they be not haughty, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.”
It is a caution to the wealthy to remember that God can remove it in the snap of His fingers. It is a reminder to all of us that the living God has given us all things richly, and we are to enjoy His bounty.
At this point in my life, I hope I have learned to be thankful for all of His benefits. He has enabled me to work hard for most of the years of my life. I was privileged to be a stay-at-home mom, and if you do it right,that’s a lot of hard work.I did NOT spend my days watching soaps and popping chocolate! Then I was a teacher, and now a counselor. Most of the work I’ve done is not so much physical as it is mental, emotional, and spiritual. The energy required has always been there for me, with a few days off here and there to rest when I’ve persisted in doing too much.
We aren’t wealthy by any definition, but we’ve always had everything we needed. I believe we’ve also learned to enjoy all that God has given us so richly.
I have a friend who has been waiting, struggling, praying, that God would provide a way for her to leave a very difficult, volatile relationship. She was patient, and now she has seen God answer her prayer in a truly stupendous manner. She is so excited, so thankful for the way the Lord, in His time, has provided her every need.
Matthew 7:11. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?”
Our God is not one Who wants His children to suffer. He is a God Who desires to give us good things if only we would ask. If we ask and do not receive what we have requested, it’s often because the time isn’t right; or because God knows it would not be good for us at all.
Just look at all the different directions this one verse has taken me this morning. Maybe that’s because I’m still full to the brim with all the blessings of our recent trip to England to celebrate our 50 years of marriage. His provision was amazing, every step of the way.
As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.
And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind?
All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness.
When we are born, we bring nothing with us. Babies must depend upon those around them to clothe, feed, and provide for them.
When we die, it is the same. We may have accumulated great wealth in our lifetimes, but we can take nothing with us to the grave that won’t rot away. Nothing we have owned will help us enter heaven. A mansion here does not guarantee wealth and abundance there.
To “eat in darkness” is explained by the meaning of the word darkness: chôshek, kho-shek’; from H2821; the dark; hence (literally) darkness; figuratively, misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness:—dark(-ness), night, obscurity.
We just spent two weeks in England. We ate like kings, both at restaurants and at home–especially at home. We had much joy with our meals because we were with family we don’t get to see very often.
The food, however, would not have been so delicious if we’d had to eat in misery, sorrow, or obscurity. And none of that food will go with us to the grave.
We need to get a handle on what is truly important in our lives. Contentment (says I Tim. 6:6) with godliness is great gain. We need to learn to be content with what we have, and to anticipate the joys of heaven where the chief joy will be the presence of Jesus Christ. THAT is what matters!
There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.
But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand.
Often, we hear scripture misquoted to state that money is the root of all evil. I Timothy 6:10 actually says:
” For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Anything that we crave above all else becomes an idol to us, and money is no exception. If increasing wealth is your primary goal in life, then money is an idol to you, and you will end in misery because your money will not help you when you have died. Whoever inherits your wealth may waste it, and use it in foolish and selfish pursuits.
Should Christians, then, avoid money? Should wealth be shunned as a possible source of worship?
I don’t believe that’s what the Bible teaches. There is much said in scripture about the wise, godly, and careful use of money. One thing we are enjoined to do is to share our wealth with the poor and needy. Proverbs 19:17 is just one of many verses that encourage us to share with those who are in need: 17 “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him again.”
We need to remember that God is the owner and ruler of all. We cannot give more than He can repay. I’ve heard testimonies all my life about how someone gave to missions, or a charity, or to an individual who was in great need. The benefactors do not expect to be repaid, yet God blesses the gift and the giver over and over again.
When we give, we need to do it with a heart of compassion. We need to do it with gratitude that God has allowed us to have enough to share with others and be a blessing. And we need to do it with no thought of being recognized or repaid.
To be able to give is a great blessing. Don”t rob yourself of the joy of giving from that which God has allowed you to possess.
I really don’t know where my thoughts are going to take me this morning. They’re a bit random, to tell the truth.
So I was thinking: Two weeks ago we got on an airplane in Philadelphia; had a layover in Toronto, and landed in London. From there, we went to Islip near Oxford, and by the time we got there we’d connected with just about everyone who was coming. And all of that in about 12 hours.
Think of that. We went to one country, then across the ocean, to London and Oxford in just 12 hours. It used to take people months to cross the ocean in a little sailing ship, risking everything to make the journey, not really knowing how they would survive. They left everything they knew, knowing it was a final goodbye.
Later, people moved westward across our country, piling all they could into a covered wagon, journeying into unknown territory to find their heart’s desire of a perfect place to start a new life. Some sickened and died on the way; some died in childbirth; some died or were taken captive by native tribes. But more made it all the way. A new start, a new life, a load of hard work and unanswered questions.
Today, we have an ever-shrinking world where the new frontiers have all been crossed. All but one.
Back in the height of missionary work, people traveled for months sometimes to reach the country they believed God was leading them to, to preach the gospel and win others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Some didn’t survive the trip. Others sickened and died on the mission field. Some were in great danger from people who didn’t trust them, thought they were evil, Some were imprisoned; some were killed.
There are still frontiers to cross with the gospel of Christ. There are amazing things happening in places that have resisted Christianity for generations. And there are still places that are not open to the gospel, and that are actively persecuting Christians.
Only God knows when Jesus will come to take His church out of this sin-sick world, and the rest, who are left behind, will suffer seven years of unimaginable tribulation. Armageddon. And the establishment of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ; the final captivity of Satan and his demons; and the beginning of eternity for all believers. Heaven will hold no boundaries of time, sickness, death, sorrow. Only goodness; only the presence of Jesus to bring constant joy and peace.
This life, I’m learning, is very short. And if we know the Lord, we have more to look forward to than we can ever imagine.
Our flights were problem-free. We had wheelchair help arranged at each place, from check-in to baggage. What a wonderful help that was. You get taken to the front of the line, and everyone seems to be perfectly okay with that. All our helpers were polite, kind, and efficient.
It’s very hot here in our corner of PA. Supposed to be record-setting highs tomorrow, up to 100. Ugh. I’m missing the cool mornings and evenings near Oxford. We had wonderful weather the whole time we were there. This heat saps my energy. I’m looking around at all that needs to be done, and I don’t want to do any of it! We do have central air, which is a huge blessing, but there’s just something about the atmosphere that changes with that kind of heat.
I was just looking through Dan’s pictures, and this one made me hungry 🙂 This was the meal they prepared to celebrate our 50th anniversary. The rosemary was cut fresh from the garden. The aromas of the rosemary, meat, and veggies roasting was unbelievable. Sooooooo good!
I can’t remember if the Peacock Garden was at Blenheim or Warwick, but this photo perfectly captures the peacock in full display:
Josh, Victoria’s boyfriend, is from New Zealand. He certainly met a lot of us all at one time–not sure, maybe that’s not a good thing. Hope we didn’t scare him off 🙂
You can see that when I get started posting everyone’s photos, it’s hard to stop. They all bring back such a good time.
Well. It’s good to be home, and we have memories of a lifetime with everyone who was there.
I’m hoping to get back to my regular blogging tomorrow with Sunday Morning Coffee, and then back to Ecclesiastes on Monday.