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Ecclesiastes 6 The Message (MSG)

Things Are Bad

1-2 I looked long and hard at what goes on around here, and let me tell you, things are bad. And people feel it. There are people, for instance, on whom God showers everything—money, property, reputation—all they ever wanted or dreamed of. And then God doesn’t let them enjoy it. Some stranger comes along and has all the fun. It’s more of what I’m calling smoke. A bad business.

3-5 Say a couple have scores of children and live a long, long life but never enjoy themselves—even though they end up with a big funeral! I’d say that a stillborn baby gets the better deal. It gets its start in a mist and ends up in the dark—unnamed. It sees nothing and knows nothing, but is better off by far than anyone living.

Even if someone lived a thousand years—make it two thousand!—but didn’t enjoy anything, what’s the point? Doesn’t everyone end up in the same place?

We work to feed our appetites;
Meanwhile our souls go hungry.

8-9 So what advantage has a sage over a fool, or over some poor wretch who barely gets by? Just grab whatever you can while you can; don’t assume something better might turn up by and by. All it amounts to anyway is smoke. And spitting into the wind.

10 Whatever happens, happens. Its destiny is fixed.
You can’t argue with fate.

11-12 The more words that are spoken, the more smoke there is in the air. And who is any better off? And who knows what’s best for us as we live out our meager smoke-and-shadow lives? And who can tell any of us the next chapter of our lives?

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

Ecclesiastes 6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Futility of Life

There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is widespread [a]among mankind: a person to whom God has given riches, wealth, and honor, so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God has not given him the opportunity to [b]enjoy these things, but a foreigner [c]enjoys them. This is futility and a severe affliction. If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many [d]they may 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, for a miscarriage comes in futility and goes into darkness; and its name is covered in darkness. It has not even seen the sun nor does it know it; yet [e]it is better off than that man. Even if the man lives a thousand years twice, but does not see good things—do not all go to one and the same place?”

All a person’s labor is for his mouth, and yet [f]his appetite is not [g]satisfied. For what advantage does the wise person have over the fool? What does the poor person have, knowing how to walk before the living? What the eyes see is better than what the soul [h]desires. This too is futility and striving after wind.

10 Whatever exists has already been named, and it is known what man is; for he cannot dispute with the [i]one who is mightier than he is. 11 For there are many words which increase futility. What then is the advantage to a person? 12 For who knows what is good for a person during his lifetime, during the few [j]years of his futile life? He will [k]spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a person what will happen after him under the sun?

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 6:1 Lit upon
  2. Ecclesiastes 6:2 Lit eat from it
  3. Ecclesiastes 6:2 Lit eats it
  4. Ecclesiastes 6:3 Lit the days of his years
  5. Ecclesiastes 6:5 Lit more rest has this one than that
  6. Ecclesiastes 6:7 Lit the soul
  7. Ecclesiastes 6:7 Lit filled
  8. Ecclesiastes 6:9 Lit goes after
  9. Ecclesiastes 6:10 Or Him who
  10. Ecclesiastes 6:12 Lit days
  11. Ecclesiastes 6:12 Lit do
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.

Ecclesiastes 6 New Living Translation (NLT)

There is another serious tragedy I have seen under the sun, and it weighs heavily on humanity. God gives some people great wealth and honor and everything they could ever want, but then he doesn’t give them the chance to enjoy these things. They die, and someone else, even a stranger, ends up enjoying their wealth! This is meaningless—a sickening tragedy.

A man might have a hundred children and live to be very old. But if he finds no satisfaction in life and doesn’t even get a decent burial, it would have been better for him to be born dead. His birth would have been meaningless, and he would have ended in darkness. He wouldn’t even have had a name, and he would never have seen the sun or known of its existence. Yet he would have had more peace than in growing up to be an unhappy man. He might live a thousand years twice over but still not find contentment. And since he must die like everyone else—well, what’s the use?

All people spend their lives scratching for food, but they never seem to have enough. So are wise people really better off than fools? Do poor people gain anything by being wise and knowing how to act in front of others?

Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

The Future—Determined and Unknown

10 Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny.

11 The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they?

12 In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? Our lives are like a shadow. Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone?

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Ecclesiastes 6 New International Version (NIV)

I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on mankind: God gives some people wealth, possessions and honor, so that they lack nothing their hearts desire, but God does not grant them the ability to enjoy them, and strangers enjoy them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.

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. 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?

Everyone’s toil is for their mouth,
    yet their appetite is never satisfied.
What advantage have the wise over fools?
What do the poor gain
    by knowing how to conduct themselves before others?
Better what the eye sees
    than the roving of the appetite.
This too is meaningless,
    a chasing after the wind.

10 Whatever exists has already been named,
    and what humanity is has been known;
no one can contend
    with someone who is stronger.
11 The more the words,
    the less the meaning,
    and how does that profit anyone?

12 For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days they pass through like a shadow? Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone?

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Ecclesiastes 6 King James Version (KJV)

There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men:

A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease.

If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.

For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness.

Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this hath more rest than the other.

Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place?

All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.

For what hath the wise more than the fool? what hath the poor, that knoweth to walk before the living?

Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.

10 That which hath been is named already, and it is known that it is man: neither may he contend with him that is mightier than he.

11 Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better?

12 For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

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