Saturday after the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 4-6 (NKJV)
4:1 Then I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun:
And look! The tears of the oppressed, but they have no comforter—on the side of their oppressors there is power, but they have no comforter. 2 Therefore I praised the dead who were already dead, more than the living who are still alive. 3 Yet, better than both is he who has never existed, who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
4 Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
5 The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. 6 Better a handful with quietness than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.
7 Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun:
8 There is one alone, without companion: He has neither son nor brother. Yet there is no end to all his labors, nor is his eye satisfied with riches. But he never asks, “For whom do I toil and deprive myself of good?” This also is vanity and a grave misfortune.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
13 Better a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more. 14 For he comes out of prison to be king, although he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I saw all the living who walk under the sun; They were with the second youth who stands in his place.
16 There was no end of all the people over whom he was made king; Yet those who come afterward will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
5:1 Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.
2 Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few. 3 For a dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by his many words.
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—5 Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. 6 Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.
8 If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them. 9 Moreover the profit of the land is for all; even the king is served from the field.
10 He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity.
11 When goods increase, they increase who eat them; So what profit have the owners except to see them with their eyes?
12 The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.
13 There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun:
Riches kept for their owner to his hurt. 14 But those riches perish through misfortune; When he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand. 15 As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; And he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand.
16 And this also is a severe evil
—just exactly as he came, so shall he go. And what profit has he who has labored for the wind? 17 All his days he also eats in darkness, and he has much sorrow and sickness and anger.
18 Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. 19 As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.
6:1 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: 2 A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil affliction.
3 If a man begets a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he—4 for it comes in vanity and departs in darkness, and its name is covered with darkness. 5 Though it has not seen the sun or known anything, this has more rest than that man, 6 even if he lives a thousand years twice—but has not seen goodness. Do not all go to one place?
7 All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the soul is not satisfied. 8 For what more has the wise man than the fool? What does the poor man have, who knows how to walk before the living? 9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
10 Whatever one is, he has been named already, for it is known that he is man; And he cannot contend with Him who is mightier than he. 11 Since there are many things that increase vanity, how is man the better?
12 For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun?
Another theme of Ecclesiastes is sufficiency. The faithful man should learn to be satisfied with the good things that he has, rather than chasing and toiling after more.
Satan inspires lust in mankind. We desire things in unrighteous ways. We want more than we need, we want what has been given to another, and we want things according to our will. Furthermore, the Enemy lies to us and convinces us that we have a right to such desire. He inflames our vain foolishness so that we chase after unrighteous quests and are distracted from seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
The wisdom of God teaches us to be content in all circumstances and to give thanks for the daily bread that He gives us. That which we are freely given is meant to remind us of God’s greatest gift to us in Jesus Christ, Who is the Bread of Life that saves us from everlasting death. And the things that we do not have are valuable for teaching us contentment in connection with faith. If we are faithful with the reality given to us, understanding it according to God’s wisdom in Christ, then we have what we truly need!
We pray: Almighty and Everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and that we may obtain that which Thou dost promise, make us to love that which Thou dost command; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.