Ecclesiastes 6:9
Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Ecclesiastes 6:9. Better is the sight of the eyes — That is, The comfortable enjoyment of what a man hath, seeing being often put for enjoying; than the wandering of the desire — Than restless and insatiable desires of what a man hath not. This is also vanity — This wandering of the desire, wherein many indulge themselves; and vexation of spirit — It is not the way to satisfaction, as they imagine, but to vexation.6:7-12 A little will serve to sustain us comfortably, and a great deal can do no more. The desires of the soul find nothing in the wealth of the world to give satisfaction. The poor man has comfort as well as the richest, and is under no real disadvantage. We cannot say, Better is the sight of the eyes than the resting of the soul in God; for it is better to live by faith in things to come, than to live by sense, which dwells only upon present things. Our lot is appointed. We have what pleases God, and let that please us. The greatest possessions and honours cannot set us above the common events of human life. Seeing that the things men pursue on earth increase vanities, what is man the better for his worldly devices? Our life upon earth is to be reckoned by days. It is fleeting and uncertain, and with little in it to be fond of, or to be depended on. Let us return to God, trust in his mercy through Jesus Christ, and submit to his will. Then soon shall we glide through this vexatious world, and find ourselves in that happy place, where there is fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore.What - literally, what profit (as in Ecclesiastes 1:3).

Knoweth ... living - i. e., "Knows how to conduct himself rightly among his contemporaries."

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).

The sight of the eyes, i.e. the comfortable enjoyment of what a man hath; for seeing is oft put for enjoying, as Psalm 34:12 Ecclesiastes 2:1 3:13, &c.

The wandering of the desire; restless and insatiable desires of what a man hath not, wherewith covetous rich men are perpetually haunted and tormented.

This, this wandering of the desire wherein most men indulge themselves,

is also vanity and vexation of spirit; is not the way to satisfaction, as they imagine, but to vexation. Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire,.... By "the sight of the eyes" is not meant the bare beholding outward riches, as in Ecclesiastes 5:11; but the enjoyment of present mercies; such things as a man is in the possession of, and with which he should be content, Hebrews 13:5; and by "the wandering of the desire", the craving appetite and insatiable lust of the covetous mind, which enlarges its desire as hell, after a thousand things, and everything it can think of; such a mind roves through the whole creation, and covets everything under the sun: now it is better to enjoy contentedly things in sight and in possession, than to let the mind loose in vague desires, after things that may never be come at, and, if attained to, would give no satisfaction;

this is also vanity and vexation of spirit: a most vain thing, to give the mind such a loose and liberty in its unbounded desires after worldly things; and a vexation of spirit it is to such a craving mind, that it cannot obtain what it is so desirous of.

Better is the {g} sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.

(g) To be content with that which God has given is better than to follow the desires that can never be satisfied.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire] Literally, than the wandering of the soul. The truth is substantially that embodied in the fable of “the dog and his shadow” and in proverbs like “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” To enjoy what we actually see, i.e. present opportunities, however limited, is better than the cravings of a limitless desire, “wandering” at will through all the region of possibilities. In that wandering, there is once more the feeding upon wind. Perhaps, however, that sentence is passed with an intentional ambiguity, characteristic of the writer (see note on Ecclesiastes 6:9), upon the actual present enjoyment, as well as on the unsatisfied desire, or upon the bare fact that the former with its lower aims is better than the latter with its higher ones.Verse 9. - Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire (nephesh, "the soul," ver. 7). This is a further confirmation of the misery and unrest that accompany immoderate desires. "The sight of the eyes" means the enjoyment of the present, that which lies before one, in contrast to the restless craving for what is distant, uncertain, and out of reach. The lesson taught is to make the best of existing circumstances, to enjoy the present, to control the roaming of fancy, and to narrow the vast field of appetency. We have a striking expression in Wisd. 4:12, ῤεμβασμὸς ἐπιθυμίας by which is denoted the giddiness, the reeling intoxication, caused by unrestrained passion. The Roman satirist lashed the sin of unscrupulous greed-

"Seal quae reverentia legum,
Quis rectus aut pudor eat unquam properantis avari?"


(Juven., 'Sat.,' 14:177.)

"Nor law, nor checks of conscience will he hear,
When in hot scent of gain and full career."


(Dryden.) Zockler quotes Horace, 'Epist.,' 1:18. 96, sqq -

"Inter cuncta leges et percontabere doctos,
Qua ratione queas traducere leniter aevum;
Num te semper inops agitet vexetque cupido,
Num paver et return mediocriter utilium spes."


"To sum up all -
Consult and con the wise
In what the art of true contentment lies:
How fear and hope, that rack the human will,
Are but vain dreams of things nor good nor ill."


(Howes.) Marc. Aurel., 'Meditat.,' 4:26, Has any advantage happened to you? It is the bounty of fate. It was all preordained you by the universal cause. Upon the whole, life is but short, therefore be just and prudent, and make your most of it; and when you divert yourself, be always on your guard' (J. Collier). Well is it added that this insatiability of the soul, which never leads to contentment, is vanity and vexation of spirit, a feeding on wind, empty, unsatisfying. Commentators refer in illustration to the fable of the dog and the shadow, and the proverb, A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." "If a man begat an hundred, and lived many years, and the amount of the days of his years was great, and his soul satisfied not itself in good, and also he had no grave, then I:say: Better than he is the untimely birth." The accentuation of 3a is like that of 2a. The disjunctives follow the Athnach, as at 2 Kings 23:13, only that there Telisha Gedhola stands for Pazer. Hitzig finds difficulty with the clause לו ... וגם־, and regards it as a marginal gloss to 5a, taken up into the text at a wrong place. But just the unexpected form and the accidental nature, more than the inward necessity of this feature in the figure, leads us to conclude that the author here connects together historical facts, as conjecturally noted above, into one fanciful picture. מאה is obviously to be supplemented by (ובנות) בנים; the Targ. and Midrash make this man to be Cain, Ahab, Haman, and show at least in this that they extend down into the time of the Persian kingdom a spark of historical intelligence. שׁן רבּ interchanges with שׁן הר, Ecclesiastes 11:8, as at Nehemiah 11:30. In order to designate the long life emphatically, the author expresses the years particularly in days: "and if it is much which (Heiligst.: multum est quod) the days of his years amount to;" cf. ימי ויּהיוּ, in Genesis 5. With venaphsho there follows the reverse side of this long life with many children: (1) his soul satisfies not itself, i.e., has no self-satisfying enjoyment of the good (min, as at Psalm 104:13, etc.), i.e., of all the good things which he possesses, - in a word, he is not happy in his life; and (2) an honourable burial is not granted to him, but קב חם, Jeremiah 22:19, which is the contrary of a burial such as becomes a man (the body of Artaxerxes Ochus was thrown to the cats); whereupon Elster rightly remarks that in an honourable burial and an honourable remembrance, good fortune, albeit shaded with sadness, might be seen. But when now, to one so rich in children and so long-lived, neither enjoyment of his good fortune nor even this shaded glory of an honourable burial is allowed, the author cannot otherwise judge than that the untimely birth is better than he. In this section regarding the uncertainty of riches, we have already, Ecclesiastes 5:14, fallen on a reminiscence from the Book of Job; it is so much the more probable that here also Job 3:16 has an influence on the formation of the thought. נפל is the foetus which comes lifeless from the mother's womb.
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