In our study of Ecclesiastes chapter six, we look at the importance of enjoying our lives and the things that God has provided.
I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on men: God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor, so that he lacks nothing his heart desires, but God does not enable him to enjoy them, and a stranger enjoys them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.
In chapter five, we saw Solomon's conclusion on the hoarding of wealth instead of sharing with those in need. He continues with the theme of possessions as he speaks of the man that has it all but does not have the ability to enjoy it. This speaks of contentment which is basically celebrating what God has given us. We often see cases of people who spend all of their time acquiring possessions or chasing recognition for their activities and yet die at an early age. God has numbered the days of each of us and we can use them as we want but we do not know how many we have. It is meaningless to store up things for a day in the future that you might not even have.
A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.
Even if God grants us many days, what good are the days if we do not have contentment? If we do not slow down to enjoy the relationships that God has provided, Solomon says that we would be better off to have never lived. Many people today pass away and leave nobody that misses them or even knows they are gone. This is sad and they are no better off than a child that never had the chance to live.
It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded. Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man - even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity. Do not all go to the same place?
The stillborn child does not have to face the struggles of this world but instead goes to be with Jesus for eternity. That baby is better off than the man who lives a long life without happiness and contentment. That is what Paul was talking about when he said that it would be gain for him to die and to go to be with the Lord (see Philippians 1:21).
All man's efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied. What advantage has a wise man over a fool? What does a poor man gain by knowing how to conduct himself before others? Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Here, Solomon describes the futility of chasing the latest and greatest thing instead of being happy with what we have. Once again, he tells us that it is like trying to catch the wind. Without this contentment that can only come from God, we are at the mercy of the next advertisement that is put in front of our face. We can chase the latest thing but, even when we get it, there will be something new that the world says we must have.
Whatever exists has already been named, and what man is has been known; no man can contend with one who is stronger than he. The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone? For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?
Now, we see that contentment also has to do with the fact that we cannot know and understand everything. We have to accept the fact that God knows all things and He is in control so we don't have to worry about the future.