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]? – Ecclesiastes 6:10-12
The narrator is trying to prove that life is not worth living, but the Holy Spirit is using him to show that these conclusions are the tragic effect of living “under the sun”—ignoring the Lord, living apart from God the Father, oblivious to the Holy Spirit—and yet face to face with the mysteries of life and nature. – Amplified Bible Study Notes
A factor that makes our work of lasting value is God’s enablement with His grace by His Spirit. – Dr. Thomas Constable
Life is transitory – what advantage do people have in life? Solomon depicts death as the reigning king in every individual’s life. – Dr. Barrick
Remember that the Preacher is speaking from the perspective of worldly knowledge and life under the sun without God, not divine biblical revelation. There are legitimate answers to these questions in God’s Word.
- Is there anything new?
- The Preacher views all which has been as being named already and known to man.
- God is the God of new things. He continually declares, “I will do a new thing, make you a new creature”
- Why bother to pray, if things are already predestined?
- The Preacher declares that man cannot contend with Him that is mightier than he. He believes everything’s predetermined and can’t be changed.
- The Bible teaches that prayer is effectual. God commands us to pray and He responds to prayer.
- Who knows what is good for us?
- The Preacher declares that there are many things that increase vanity, so how is a man better off?
- God knows what is good for us and reveals it in His Word.
- Can anyone know what is going to happen next?
- The Preacher asks, “For who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?”
- God’s prophetic Word foretells what is ahead and prepares us for it.
Solomon appears to be going through the ultimate “mid-life crisis”. He is struggling with what kind of legacy he is going to leave behind. In your opinion what kind of legacy did he leave? It was not as bad as he seemed to think it would be, but it certainly could have been better. With the kind of advantages he started out with in life, he could have been a marvelous spiritual giant and an example to much of the civilized world of his day. He could have explored ways to disseminate true religion and a correct knowledge of God throughout the world. He could have pointed out the foolishness of pagan religions. He could have established a group of spiritual leaders to go to all the nations of the world to teach them the truth about life, God, and the future. He could have established a government system that provided very well for all of its citizens so that everyone could live happy, prosperous lives. He could have set up centres for the study of nature,religion, and even how to live longer, healthier lives.