The Scriptorium

Too Much of Nothing

No matter how much, it will never satisfy. Ecclesiastes 6.1, 2

Ecclesiastes 6 (1)

Pray Psalm 4.3
But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly;
The LORD will hear when I call to Him.

Read Ecclesiastes 6.1, 2.

Prepare.

1. Solomon here sees riches, wealth, and honor as “evil”. Why?

2. What is the “power to eat of it” mentioned here? Do you sense a double meaning in this?

Meditate.
Solomon seems to be musing autobiographically again.

He had everything he could ever want but he found, too late in life, that none of it brought him enjoyment. He had lost the “power” to see these gifts for what they really were. Now he was about to turn it all over to his son (is he implying Rehoboam is more like a “foreigner” than a son?); and who could imagine what he would do with it all?

God gives us good gifts to enjoy; however, we will only enjoy them when we see them as gifts from God, to be used for His glory, and not just as ends in themselves, to bring us the pleasure and joy only God can give (Ps. 16.11). The “power” to do this comes from God; we must seek it from Him.

Treat your things and experiences as the source and substance of your happiness, and they simply won’t deliver.

“Evil” is the first and last word in this passage. Solomon means it. It’s not just “too bad” that people don’t live unto the Lord; it’s an eternal tragedy, one that consigns them to misery here and now and unrelieved suffering hereafter. Perhaps, in this increasingly secular world, if we as believers saw the plight of our lost neighbors as “evil” holding them in its grip, we might be moved to reach out to them with the love and truth of Christ (2 Tim. 2.24-26).

Even then, though, there are no guarantees: Rehoboam observed his father’s folly and saw the disappointment it brought him; however, not this, and not his father’s pleadings, would be enough to convince him to repent.

Reflect.
1. God gives us good gifts. We only enjoy them as He intends when we understand and use them as His gifts. With that in mind, how do you understand what Solomon is saying in verse 2? What “power” did the man in these verses lack? Where might he have secured that “power”, and why should he have sought it?

2. Why is the condition Solomon describes here “evil”? What makes anything “evil”?

3. We note that Solomon says this condition of wasting the gifts of God is “common among men”. Does the fact that we see this everywhere mean that we should regard it as normative? Is truth to be determined by majorities? Explain.

Let none of us entertain the desire for possessions, for what gain is it to acquire those things which we cannot take with us? Why not rather acquire those that we can take: prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, understanding, charity, love of the poor, faith in Christ, gentleness, hospitality? Athanasius (295-373), Life of St. Anthony 17

I want to increase in godliness, Lord, so help me today to…

Pray Psalm 4.1-3.
God has set you apart for godliness. Seek Him for godliness today, and know that He will hear you when you call.

Sing Psalm 4.1-3
Psalm 4.1-3 (Picardy: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent)
Answer when I call, Lord Jesus, God of all my righteousness!
Bend Your holy ear, relieve us from all terror, all distress!
Lord, receive our prayer, release us; send Your grace to save and bless!

Wicked men reproach and scorn us, loving what is vile and vain.
God with grace will shield and adorn us through the Savior’s blood and pain.
Jesus, You have bought and borne us; hear our cries for help again.

T. M. Moore

Where does the book of Ecclesiastes fit in the overall flow of Scripture? Our series of studies, God’s Covenant, can show you, and help you discover the great beauty of the unity and diversity of Scripture, and how it all points to Christ. To order your copy of this important workbook, click here.

You can download all the studies in this series on Ecclesiastes by clicking here. If you value Scriptorium as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button  at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.