Wesley's Notes on the Bible
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.
6:2 Riches - All sorts of riches. To eat - Because God gives him up to a base and covetous mind.
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.
6:3 With good - He hath not a contented mind and comfortable enjoyment of his estate. Is better - Which as it never enjoyed the comforts, so it never felt the calamities of life.
For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness.
6:4 He - The abortive; of whom alone, that passage is true, hath not seen the sun, ver.5. Cometh - Into the world. In vain - To no purpose; without any comfort or benefit by it. Departeth - Without any observation or regard of men. His name - Shall be speedily and utterly forgotten.
Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this hath more rest than the other.
6:5 More rest - Because he is free from all those encumbrances and vexations to which the covetuous man is long exposed.
Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place?
6:6 Tho' he live - Wherein he seems to have a privilege above an untimely birth. Seen - He hath enjoyed no comfort in it, and therefore long life is rather a curse, than a blessing to him. All - Whether their lives be long or short. Go - To the grave.
All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.
6:7 Is - For meat. And yet - Men are insatiable in their desires, and restless in their endeavours after more, and never say, they have enough.
For what hath the wise more than the fool? what hath the poor, that knoweth to walk before the living?
6:8 More - In these matters. Both are subject to the same calamities, and partakers of the same comforts of this life. The poor - More than the poor that doth not know this. He means such a poor man as is ingenious and industrious; fit for service and business.
Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.
6:9 The fight - The comfortable enjoyment of what a man hath. Than - Restless desires of what a man hath not. This - Wandering of the desire.
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.
6:10 Is named - This is added as a further instance of the vanity of all things in this life. That which hath been (man, who is the chief of all visible beings) is named already, by God, who, presently after his creation, gave him the following name, to signify what his nature and condition was. Man - A mortal and miserable creature, as his very name signifies, which God gave him for this very end, that he might be always sensible of his vain and miserable estate in this world. With him - With almighty God, with whom men are apt to contend upon every slight occasion, and against whom they are ready to murmur for this vanity, and mortality, and misery.
Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better?
6:11 Seeing - This seems to be added as a conclusion from all the foregoing chapter s; seeing not only man is a vain creature in himself, but there are also many other things, which instead of diminishing, do but increase this vanity, as wisdom, pleasure, power, wealth; seeing even the good things of this life bring so much toil, and cares, and fears, with them. The better - By all that he can either desire or enjoy here?
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?
6:12 Who knoweth - No man certainly knows what is better for him here, whether to be high or low, rich or poor. Vain life - Life itself is a vain and uncertain thing, and therefore all things which depend on it must be so too. While - While it abides, hath nothing solid, or substantial in it, and which speedily passes away, and leaves no sign behind it. For - And as no man can be happy with these things while he lives, so he can have no content in leaving them to others, because he knows not either who shall possess them, or how the future owners will use or abuse them.