I’m studying in Ecclesiastes 6 right now. A lot of people give Solomon a hard time for Ecclesiastes. They say that, well, if I were to paraphrase what I have heard, read, and understood people to think about this book and the King who wrote it, I would put it this way:
“Solomon, is a depressed, moody, rich-boy king who would do better to up his anti-depressants and stop writing wisdom literature at this point in his career. Stick to the poetry my friend.” -New Jerusalem Times
Basically. I disagree though. I think we don’t like it for the same reason it is depressing: he is honest. But I learned something interesting today.
The first part of chapter six concerns itself with how miserable it is if God grants us great wealth, but for some reason we have no ability to enjoy it. Verse 3 reads this way:
“A man may beget a hundred children, and live many years; but however many are the days of his years, if he does not enjoy life’s good things, or has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.”
Dang, Solomon! But here is the interesting thing. See, in English, we have words for wordplay that make the wordplay seem less impressive. Puns are the prime example of that. In ancient Hebrew, the wordplay was more artistic and less obvious. According to the footnotes of the third edition of the New Oxford Annotated Bible, something beautiful is taking place in verse 3.
“With a slight change of one word in the Hebrew, on may read, ‘and yet he complains that the days of his years will come to pass.’ Even though this person has everything that anyone might desire, including abundant wealth, progeny, and long life, he complains about the days ahead of him, dissatisfied with all that he has and worried about proper burial when he dies.” (Pg. 950)
Remember, as you go about your day, one word can make a difference. Just one word. One word changes “many years” to “why so many years?”; one word changes “you’re a good child” to “because you’re a good child”; one word changes “He loves me” to “does He love me?”. Don’t let syntax through you off trax today. Wordplay. Mic drop.