Too bad the rich can’t enjoy themselves
Rich and unhappy1There’s another horrible problem I’ve noticed about wealth—a problem terribly unfair to rich people everywhere. 2God blesses some people with wealth, property, and respect. These people can buy anything they want. But for some reason, God doesn’t let them enjoy what they have. Others will get to enjoy it, instead. There’s nothing fair about that. It makes no sense at all.
3As far as I’m concerned, you could live a long time and have 100 children, but if you don’t enjoy the wealth you earned, you’ve wasted your life. You’d be better off born dead, tossed aside, trashed, and left unburied.
4A child born dead comes into a world of nothing and goes into a world of darkness. 5That child never even sees the sunrise. Yet, it’s better off than a rich person who can’t enjoy life. 6You could live 2,000 years, but what’s the point if you can’t enjoy life? Don’t you and the stillborn child end up in the same place?
We work to feed hunger that’s never satisfied7We humans work because we need to feed our mouths. It’s a never-ending job because our appetite never quits.
8In the end, how are wise people better off than fools? And what good does it do a poor person to master the art of coping with poverty? 9It’s better to see what you have than to want what you don’t have. If you’re going to daydream about what you want, you might as well chase the wind, too. And good luck with that.
Shut up and hang on for the ride10Whatever happens today was decided ahead of time. God has a plan for people, and there’s nothing they can do to change it. God is stronger than they are, and they know it.
11The more we talk, the less sense we make. So, isn’t it better to just shut up? Or at least talk a little less? 12Who knows what we should do in life when we glide along like shallow shadows under the sun? And who knows what happens to us when the sun goes down?
The Scholar returns to the subject of how meaningless wealth is, especially for rich folks who don’t seem satisfied with what they have and can’t seem to enjoy life. He says they’d be better off born dead and thrown out with the trash (6:3), a little hyperbole, perhaps. Sometimes, it may seem that the Scholar writes with all the intense drama of a kindergartener with an owie. But that hyperbole is exaggeration that’s to drive home a point.
Whatever humans think they are doing to control what happens in their lives, they’re kidding themselves—as far as the Scholar seems to see it. God’s the coach and he’s calling the plays. We might catch the ball and run to the right when the play was to the left. But it’s God who moves the ball down the field, regardless of what offensive move we choose to make in the face of God’s defensive front line. As in, “tackled for a loss.” Pardon the football illustration. But perhaps the Scholar is saying again that we shouldn’t chase the wind by kidding ourselves. We should “chase God” (5:7). Early Jewish scholars writing in the Targum Bible paraphrase and commentary said much the same—that people should pursue the spiritual over the material things of life.
“When the sun goes down” means when they die. The writer calls that place “a world of darkness” (6:4). When Old Testament writers talked about life after death, it was usually about a place called Sheol, where the dead spirits go and tend not to come back (Genesis 37:35), except for Samuel, conjured up by a medium (1 Samuel 28:15). Some Jewish scholars say Isaiah 26:19 helped convince Jews in Medieval times that there is a resurrection. Rabbinic Judaism, like much of Christianity, teaches that all people will rise from the dead.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.