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Ecclesiastes 06


 

Ecc 6:1-2a . .There is an evil I have observed under the sun, and a grave one it is for man: that God sometimes grants a man riches, property, and wealth, so that he does not want for anything his appetite may crave,

Here we go with that "gift of God" thing again; but these are typically a genre of gifts that Solomon observes "under the sun" rather than in the sphere of true providence. Just because somebody is rich is no indication their prosperity was engineered by God. Even career criminals, Wall Street barracudas, predatory lenders, and corrupt politicians are often rich; no thanks to God. Some feel the Kennedy clan is blessed, yet they are very well off due to grandpa Joe's lack of scruples.

Ecc 6:2b . . but God does not permit him to enjoy it; instead, a stranger will enjoy it. That is futility and a grievous ill.

That is the classic "the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord" attitude. Calling any act of God "futility and a grievous ill" would normally be considered accusing God of sin, except that in this case, Solomon doesn't really mean it that way. To an intellectual, the concept of God is merely academic; and an "act of God" is really no more literal than pie in the sky or the man in the moon.

A common example of this "evil" about which Solomon spoke is someone who worked hard all their life, saved and invested wisely, and then one day WHAM, during a routine physical exam, their doctor shocks them with the life-changing news they have on-set Alzheimer's. Guess where that person's savings and investments will end up now. Yes, towards medical attention and long term care. The health care system, and it's medical professionals, will make a big dent in their life savings.

Ecc 6:3-6 . . Even if a man should beget a hundred children and live many years— no matter how many the days of his years may come to, if his gullet is not sated through his wealth, I say: the stillbirth, though it was not even accorded a burial, is more fortunate than he. Though it comes into futility and departs into darkness, and its very name is covered with darkness, though it has never seen or experienced the sun, it is better off than he— yes, even if the other lived a thousand years twice over but never had his fill of enjoyment! For are not both of them bound for the same place?

One advantage a stillborn child enjoys over and above the living is that although it never had a chance to live; it doesn't know what it missed either. In its case, ignorance is truly bliss. The person who had the means and the wherewithal to enjoy life, but failed to take advantage of it before they died, will suffer unspeakable mental anguish throughout eternity for missing their chance to enjoy life before it was too late. In that respect, the miscarried child is much better off because it has more peace of mind than others even though it never owned anything; no, not even so much as a name to call its own.

I knew an older man once who owned a very expensive wrist watch that he reserved for special occasions. Well; that is short sighted if you ask me' He should wear that nice watch whenever he gets the chance because life is so uncertain. People should enjoy their nice things while they can rather than wait till they're at the point of death. Life is not a do-over. You've got live it as you live it: not wait till a more opportune moment; which, as sometimes happens, quite possibly may never come. Carpe Diem: seize the day. People who put off living life to its fullest till later often find out it's too late to do so.

Ecc 6:7-8 . . All of man’s earning is for the sake of his mouth, yet his gullet is not sated. What advantage then has the wise man over the fool, what advantage has the pauper who knows how to get on in life?

Food and water are two things in life that, like sleep, cannot be taken just once because once is not enough. You have to eat again, you have to drink water again, and you have to sleep again. That is a law of life for both the stupid and the intelligent, for both the rich and the poor, for both the female gender and for the male gender. No one is exempt from that law— all are equal in those respects— except for the reticent 17 year-old Twilight vampire Edward Cullen of whom it's said never needs sleep.

Ecc 6:9 . .What the eyes see is better than what the soul desires. This too is futility and a striving after wind.

Sometimes I think the most content people are the blind because they go shopping with their heads instead of their eyes. People invariably buy things that are far more expensive than what they could get by with if they had to.

This same weakness of the eyes will compel a boy to marry a beautiful girl who is totally wrong for him. The Creator made women to be a man's very best friend first, his lover second, and the mother of his children third. But some men just can't get past a girl's looks; and as all women know, when it comes to love; men use their eyes much better than they use their heads. They often pick a wife without thinking because looks mean almost everything to the average man; and a woman's personality is only secondary, if it's taken into consideration at all.

Women, as a rule, focus on the aspects of intimacy and relationship; but men, as a rule, focus on the physical aspect. One of Billy Crystal's lines from City Slicker says it all: "Women have to be in the mood, while men just need a place."

Take a look around the magazine racks in Barnes & Noble some time. The regular racks contain lots of magazines with girly covers; and inside them are lots of girly photographs; while over in another aisle away from the racks, are shelves displaying the romance novels. Most guys don't care for romance novels; those are for the women; because romance novels are to women what girly pictures are to men; just in a different way. Photographs stimulate men through their eyes, while novels stimulate women through their feelings; which easily explains why some men would rather walk the neighbor's dog than sit through a chick flick with their wives and girlfriends.

Ecc 6:10 . .Whatever happens, it was designated long ago and it was known that it would happen; as for man, he cannot contend with what is stronger than he.

I guess you could call that attitude fatalism.

Some things really are predestined and often we just have to face the facts; e.g. old age and death are two of life's unpleasant realities. Everyone is stuck with debilitation and there's no use in fighting it. Menopause is another chipped-in-stone fact of life that is just as real as the air we breathe all around us. If couples aren't careful, and let too much time slip by, menopause will steal away their chances for a baby. And on top of that, the older a woman gets, the more her eggs age and become less viable than when she was young. The same problem exists for men, just in a different way. Men aren’t born with all their sperm cells. Fresh ones are manufactured by their bodies all the time. However, those fresh cells are the cells of an aging man. So if a man waits to have children when he's old, his chances of producing a child with birth defects increase.

Some people enjoy toying with death; and go hiking in the wilderness all alone and/or jump off high places with a bungee cord. Some say people like that have a death wish. No, what they really have is a wish to flirt with death and live to tell about it. Their attitude is: If you aren't walking on the edge; then you're taking up room.

Personally, I don't want to die like a fool. People who tempt fate by participating in extreme sports are just asking to be dead and/or crippled for life before their next meal— and then what?

Ecc 6:11-12 . . Often, much talk means much futility. How does it benefit a man? Who can possibly know what is best for a man to do in life— the few days of his fleeting life? For who can tell him what the future holds for him under the sun?

Solomon's comment pertains to a man's time "under the sun" rather than after his death.

They say for every action there's a reaction; and that's generally true. But who can really predict the repercussions of their decisions? In other words: when a butterfly flaps its wings in England, does it put in motion other acts of nature that eventuate in a typhoon in Samoa?

Life isn't like a chess game where the masters can see twelve moves ahead. No, life is oftentimes a gamble. A young fellow contemplating the risks and responsibilities of marriage once lamented to me how chancy it is to get married in these days with the world in such turmoil and the economy uncertain. But I said to him: Life goes on.

My friend realized of course that life does go on even under the extreme threats of nuclear war, terrorism, air and water pollution, drug cartels, road rage, brown-outs and water shortages, insane oil prices, acid rain, crime, prejudice, drive-by shootings, global warming, unemployment, economic collapse, and reactor melt-downs. People do manage to somehow cope and keep going. Well, not long after that, he married his best girl; who proved to be just the right one for him too. His pretty bride made him forget all about the dangers of lay-offs, spiraling medical costs, and mortgage debt. My young friend never felt better in his life. Carpe Diem.
 


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