1. common -- or else more literally, -- |great upon man,| falls heavily upon man.
2. for his soul -- that is, his enjoyment.
God giveth him not power to eat -- This distinguishes him from the |rich| man in Ec 5:19. |God hath given| distinguishes him also from the man who got his wealth by |oppression| (Ec 5:8, 10).
stranger -- those not akin, nay, even hostile to him (Jer 51:51; La 5:2; Ho 7:9). He seems to have it in his |power| to do as he will with his wealth, but an unseen power gives him up to his own avarice: God wills that he should toil for |a stranger| (Ec 2:26), who has found favor in God's sight.
3. Even if a man (of this character) have very many (equivalent to |a hundred,| 2Ki 10:1) children, and not have a |stranger| as his heir (Ec 6:2), and live long (|days of years| express the brevity of life at its best, Ge 47:9), yet enjoy no real |good| in life, and lie unhonored, without |burial,| at death (2Ki 9:26, 35), the embryo is better than he. In the East to be without burial is the greatest degradation. |Better the fruit that drops from the tree before it is ripe than that left to hang on till rotten| [Henry].
4. he -- rather |it,| |the untimely birth.| So |its,| not |his name.|
with vanity -- to no purpose; a type of the driftless existence of him who makes riches the chief good.
darkness -- of the abortive; a type of the unhonored death and dark future beyond the grave of the avaricious.
5. this -- yet |it has more rest than| the toiling, gloomy miser.
6. If the miser's length of |life| be thought to raise him above the abortive, Solomon answers that long life, without enjoying real good, is but lengthened misery, and riches cannot exempt him from going whither |all go.| He is fit neither for life, nor death, nor eternity.
7. man -- rather, |the man,| namely, the miser (Ec 6:3-6). For not all men labor for the mouth, that is, for selfish gratification.
appetite -- Hebrew, |the soul.| The insatiability of the desire prevents that which is the only end proposed in toils, namely, self-gratification; |the man| thus gets no |good| out of his wealth (Ec 6:3).
8. For -- |However| [Maurer]. The |for| means (in contrast to the insatiability of the miser), For what else is the advantage which the wise man hath above the fool?|
What -- advantage, that is, superiority, above him who knows not how to walk uprightly
hath the poor who knoweth to walk before the living? -- that is, to use and enjoy life aright (Ec 5:18, 19), a cheerful, thankful, godly |walk| (Ps 116:9).
9. Answer to the question in Ec 6:8. This is the advantage:
Better is the sight of the eyes -- the wise man's godly enjoyment of present seen blessings
than the (fool's) wandering -- literally, walking (Ps 73:9), of the desire, that is, vague, insatiable desires for what he has not (Ec 6:7; Heb 13:5).
this -- restless wandering of desire, and not enjoying contentedly the present (1Ti 6:6, 8).
10. Part II begins here. Since man's toils are vain, what is the chief good? (Ec 6:12). The answer is contained in the rest of the book.
That which hath been -- man's various circumstances
is named already -- not only has existed, Ec 1:9; 3:15, but has received its just name, |vanity,| long ago,
and it is known that it -- vanity
is man -- Hebrew, |Adam,| equivalent to man |of red dust,| as his Creator appropriately named him from his frailty.
neither may he contend, &c. -- (Ro 9:20).
11. |Seeing| that man cannot escape from the |vanity,| which by God's |mighty| will is inherent in earthly things, and cannot call in question God's wisdom in these dispensations (equivalent to |contend,| &c.),
what is man the better -- of these vain things as regards the chief good? None whatever.
12. For who knoweth, &c. -- The ungodly know not what is really |good| during life, nor |what shall be after them,| that is, what will be the event of their undertakings (Ec 3:22; 8:7). The godly might be tempted to |contend with God| (Ec 6:10) as to His dispensations; but they cannot fully know the wise purposes served by them now and hereafter. Their sufferings from the oppressors are more really good for them than cloudless prosperity; sinners are being allowed to fill up their measure of guilt. Retribution in part vindicates God's ways even now. The judgment shall make all clear. In Ec 7:1-29, he states what is good, in answer to this verse.