of our former members, Jackie Crockett, told us a story of her parrot. An
African Gray, which is a very intelligent breed, the parrot did not like having
its cage covered for the night. As she would put the pillow case over the
cage, the parrot would comment, “Bummer, dude.”
parrot could be Solomon’s spokes-bird this week.
Ecclesiastes 6:1-2 NASB
(1) There is an evil which I have seen under the sun
and it is prevalent among men-- (2) a man to
whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing
of all that he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a
foreigner enjoys them. This is vanity and a severe affliction.
I point out two quick items about this evil which Solomon describes?
it is an evil. It’s a bummer, dude. You may or may not work your tail
off to get wealth and honor, but if you have them only to find someone
else – a stranger – enjoying them, it’s a bummer. Once you have
something, you feel entitled to it. If you think you are entitled to
something, losing it is a bummer. (Obvious enough, I hope).
it is prevalent. The story is repeated often enough. The schlemozzle
does the work and the schlemiel gets the credit and the money. But only
after the schlemozzle gets used to the lifestyle. (Comedy and tragedy are
the same art.)
something, please: God gives this wealth and honor in the first place. It is
a good gift; it’s a bummer to lose it. The Old Testament view is generally
that wealth and honor are a sign of God’s favor, though the matter is more
complicated than that. The word “honor” hear can also be translated “weight;”
just as we today might say that someone is “a real heavyweight.” The problem
is not the wealth and honor, then. So what is it?
that the man doesn’t get to enjoy it. When this happens, we usually ask one
question – “Why?” – and really mean to ask two:
first is, “Why?” By this we mean we want to know why this sort of thing
happens at all. The short, simple answer is that we live in a fallen
second is, “Why me?” Often enough the righteous see the answer the way
Job’s friends did: the victim is a horrible sinner, that’s why. Often
enough, that’s wrong.
don’t get no satisfaction”
Ecclesiastes 6:3-6 NASB
(3) If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many they
be, but his soul is not satisfied with good
things and he does not even have a proper
burial, then I say, "Better the
miscarriage than he, (4) for it comes in
futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity. (5) "It never sees the sun and it never knows anything; it is better off than he. (6) "Even if the other
man lives a thousand years twice and does not enjoy good things--do not all go
to one place?"
of you with the NIV will have, in verse three, “if he cannot enjoy his prosperity”
instead of the phrase highlighted. This is a problem with the “phrase by
phrase” method of translation. I hope you see the difference. In the NASB
(and ESV, and KJV, and a number of other, stricter, translations) it’s clear
that the issue is the satisfaction of the soul, not the enjoyment of
prosperity. We may look at those two items now.
Webster defined the soul as the “spiritual, rational and immortal” part of man’s
being – that which distinguishes us from all other animals. Darwinists must,
therefore, deny the existence of the soul, but I assume you are no such fool. There
are two pertinent aspects here:
is a spiritual problem – not a financial one. It originates in the
spirit of man, in his desires, not in his wallet.
problem can be dealt with rationally – it does not require mystic
mumbo-jumbo. It does require discipline.
problem is relatively simple: satisfaction occurs when our expectations have
been met by reality. So I ask you, which is easier to change: expectations
(which are under your sole control) or reality (which is not)?
is their god
Ecclesiastes 6:7-8 NASB
(7) All a man's labor is for his mouth and yet the
appetite is not satisfied. (8) For what
advantage does the wise man have over the fool? What advantage does the poor man have, knowing how to walk before the living?
can’t be all futility – after all, we still get to eat, right? Why can’t we
just “go with the flow” and just live for our bellies? Let pleasure be our
you do. May we point out (that’s Solomon and I):
still going to get hungry again.
always want a better steak. If you get it, you’ll want a better diet.
short, we’re back to older whiskey, younger women, faster cars and more money.
So why not?
Latin for “reduction to the absurd.” The logical argument is simply this: if
you reach an absurd conclusion based on your assumptions, your assumptions are
wrong. Let us examine the conclusions:
this is true, then everything you know about good manners is useless.
Reach, grab and fight for everything as rudely as you can. You don’t need
to know which fork to use, only how to stab with it. Which is absurd.
than that, wisdom is useless – you don’t need wisdom to use a fork at
all. Wisdom? Don’t need it. Which is absurd.
entire idea of living for your belly is absurd. Paul put it more fully to the
Christian in this manner:
Philippians 3:18-19 NASB
(18) For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now
tell you even weeping, that they are
enemies of the cross of Christ, (19) whose
end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their
minds on earthly things.
what’s the answer? Look again at verse 9: it’s contentment. It’s better to
be satisfied with “what the eyes see” (i.e., what you already have) than what
the KJV calls the “wandering of the
desire”. If you’re never
satisfied, maybe it’s because you’re still looking.
Ecclesiastes 6:10-12 NASB
(10) Whatever exists has already been named, and it
is known what man is; for he cannot dispute with him who is stronger than he
is. (11) For there are many words which
increase futility. What then is the
advantage to a man? (12) For who knows what
is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life? He will
spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under
at the facts
already know what’s out there. Better than ever, in our time. So don’t
tell me you’re looking for something unknown. You’re looking for “more”.
already know what people are like: they’re sinners. They’re going to
disappoint you eventually. If your expectations include the perfect wife
you’re going to be disappointed. And it won’t take long.
also know what your chances are of getting God to alter the universe to
that, just what is it that people really do about it?
talk about it, that’s what. We write books about it, we complain about it, we
watch TV shows that show us people like this, we read gossip magazines – and accomplish
nothing. Why? Because there is nothing we can accomplish. It’s basically
with the futility?
point, in our terms today, is pretty simple: without Christ,
who knows what then?
with Christ, things are different:
has purpose, meaning and joy.
gives us eternal life, and