(Article by Denny Petrillo)
In one of the most intriguing passages in Ecclesiastes, Solomon maintains that, under certain conditions, it would have been better to have been born dead (6:3). This is a most startling statement. We value life. We consider existence a precious gift. So what is Solomon talking about, and to whom is he saying that it would have been better for him to have been born dead?
First, Solomon states that a miscarriage is better than a man who fails to appreciate his family. In his illustration, a man is blessed with “a hundred children” (6:3). Yet he is not satisfied. How can one not be satisfied with such a large “quiver” full of children (Ps. 127:3-5)? Since children are a blessing from God (Ps. 113:9), this man is richly blessed. Yet if such a man cannon appreciate this blessing, he would have been better off being miscarried.
Second, Solomon states that a miscarriage is better than a man who fails to appreciate the years of his life. Again using hyperbole, he says that if the man should live “a thousand times twice” (6:6), but fails to enjoy them, he is better off dead. Far too often we don’t enjoy life. Rather, we let cares and worries rob us of daily joy. Those days turn to months which turn to years. Before long, it is a lifetime of discontent.
Third, Solomon states that a miscarriage is better than a man who fails to appreciate material blessings. Paul states that we should be content with what we have, even if we have very little (1 Tim. 6:8; Phil. 4:11, 12). In contrast, this man has much, being enriched with “good things” (6:3, 6). But he fails to enjoy those good things. Again, Paul notes that it is God who “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17). We must learn to be satisfied. If we’re not, Solomon would say it would have been better off if we had never been born.
Is it good that you’re alive? Let us all learn to enjoy our families, our years of life and our material blessings. Most importantly, for us on this side of the cross, let us “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4).