Ecclesiastes 6:1-12

Ecclesiastes 6:1-12 English Standard Version 2016 (ESV)

There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous evil. If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. Moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything, yet it finds rest rather than he. Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy no good—do not all go to the one place? All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied. For what advantage has the wise man over the fool? And what does the poor man have who knows how to conduct himself before the living? Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is vanity and a striving after wind. Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to dispute with one stronger than he. The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man? For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 6:1-2-11-12 The Message (MSG)

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

Ecclesiastes 6:1-12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

There is an evil which I have seen under the sun and it is prevalent among men— 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. 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, for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity. It never sees the sun and it never knows anything; it is better off than he. Even if the other man lives a thousand years twice and does not enjoy good things—do not all go to one place?” All a man’s labor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied. 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? What the eyes see is better than what the soul desires. This too is futility and a striving after wind. 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. For there are many words which increase futility. What then is the advantage to a man? 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 the sun?

Ecclesiastes 6:1-12 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. 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. The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they? 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?

Ecclesiastes 6:1-12 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. 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. Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? 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?

Ecclesiastes 6:1-12 New Century Version (NCV)

I have seen something else wrong here on earth that causes serious problems for people. God gives great wealth, riches, and honor to some people; they have everything they want. But God does not let them enjoy such things; a stranger enjoys them instead. This is useless and very wrong. A man might have a hundred children and live a long time, but what good is it if he can’t enjoy the good God gives him or have a proper burial? I say a baby born dead is better off than he is. A baby born dead is useless. It returns to darkness without even a name. That baby never saw the sun and never knew anything, but it finds more rest than that man. Even if he lives two thousand years, he doesn’t enjoy the good God gives him. Everyone is going to the same place. People work just to feed themselves, but they never seem to get enough to eat. In this way a wise person is no better off than a fool. Then, too, it does a poor person little good to know how to get along in life. It is better to see what you have than to want more. Wanting more is useless— like chasing the wind. Whatever happens was planned long ago. Everyone knows what people are like. No one can argue with God, who is stronger than anyone. The more you say, the more useless it is. What good does it do? People have only a few useless days of life on the earth; their short life passes like a shadow. Who knows what is best for them while they live? Who can tell them what the future will bring?

Ecclesiastes 6:1-12 American Standard Version (ASV)

There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is heavy upon men: a man to whom God giveth riches, wealth, and honor, so that he lacketh nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but an alien eateth it; this is vanity, and it is an evil disease. If a man beget a hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul be not filled with good, and moreover he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he: for it cometh in vanity, and departeth in darkness, and the name thereof is covered with darkness; moreover it hath not seen the sun nor known it; this hath rest rather than the other: yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, and yet enjoy no good, do not all go to one place? All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled. For what advantage hath the wise more than the fool? or what hath the poor man, that knoweth how to walk before the living? Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this also is vanity and a striving after wind. Whatsoever hath been, the name thereof was given long ago; and it is known what man is; neither can he contend with him that is mightier than he. Seeing there are many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? For who knoweth what is good for man in his 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?

Ecclesiastes 6:1-12 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. Whatever exists has already been named, and what humanity is has been known; no one can contend with someone who is stronger. The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone? 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?

Ecclesiastes 6:1-12 Amplified Bible (AMP)

There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it weighs heavily on men: a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God has not given him the power or capacity to enjoy them [all those things which are gifts from God], but a stranger [in whom he has no interest succeeds him and] enjoys them. This is vanity and it is a [cause of] great distress. If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many they may be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things and he is not respected and is not given a proper burial [he is not laid to rest in the sepulcher of his fathers], then I say, “Better the miscarriage than he, for the miscarriage comes in futility (in vain) and passes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity. It has not seen the sun nor had any knowledge; yet it has more rest and is better off than he. Even if the other man lives a thousand years twice over and yet has seen no good and experienced no enjoyment—do not both go to one place [the grave]?” All the labor of man is for his mouth [for self-preservation and enjoyment], and yet the desire [of his soul] is not satisfied. For what advantage has the wise man over the fool [for being worldly-wise is not the secret to happiness]? What advantage has the poor man who has learned how to walk [publicly] among the living [with men’s eyes on him; for being poor is not the secret to happiness either]? What the eyes see [enjoying what is available] is better than [craving] what the soul desires. This too is futility and chasing after the wind. Whatever exists has already been named [long ago], and it is known what [a frail being] man is; for he cannot dispute with Him who is mightier than he. For there are many other words that increase futility. What then is the advantage for a man? For who [limited by human wisdom] knows what is good for man during his lifetime, during the few days of his futile life? He spends them like a shadow [staying busy, but achieving nothing of lasting value]. For who can tell a man what will happen after him [to his work, his treasure, his plans] under the sun [after his life is over]?