Rev. Dr. Rick Marrs, senior professor of practical theology and pastoral counseling at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO, joins host Rev. Timothy Appel to study Ecclesiastes 5:18-6:12.
Recognizing that all humanity are dependent creatures of God, Solomon commends joy in the gifts of God throughout life. Such joy comes even in the midst of the reality that sometimes death comes before we expect it. In this life under the sun, Solomon recognizes the vanity of this reality that all eventually die. Though we are prone to work only to satisfy our longing for what we don’t have, Solomon urges us to give thanks for the gifts of God we do see. Although man does not know all that is good and man cannot see what comes after his life, God does know these things; therefore, true wisdom is fear of God as His dependent creatures.
“Wisdom for Life Under the Sun” is a series on Sharper Iron that goes through the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon’s favorite word in Ecclesiastes paints a bleak picture: “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!” Apart from God, life is nothing but vapor that does not last and can never be grasped. Yet Solomon does not leave us in despair. He shows us that life does have meaning in the faith and fear of God, from whom all things come to us as a gift.
Sharper Iron, hosted by Rev. Timothy Appel, looks at the text of Holy Scripture both in its broad context and its narrow detail, all for the sake of proclaiming Christ crucified and risen for sinners. Two pastors engage with God’s Word to sharpen not only their own faith and knowledge, but the faith and knowledge of all who listen.
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18 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment[a] in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.
6 There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: 2 a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity;[b] it is a grievous evil. 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 satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. 4 For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. 5 Moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything, yet it finds rest rather than he. 6 Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy[c] no good—do not all go to the one place?
7 All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.[d] 8 For what advantage has the wise man over the fool? And what does the poor man have who knows how to conduct himself before the living? 9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is vanity and a striving after wind.
10 Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to dispute with one stronger than he. 11 The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man? 12 For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain[e] life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?
- Ecclesiastes 5:18 Or and see good
- Ecclesiastes 6:2 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also verses 4, 9, 11 (see note on 1:2)
- Ecclesiastes 6:6 Or see
- Ecclesiastes 6:7 Hebrew filled
- Ecclesiastes 6:12 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. esv.org