English Bible translations usually have the word ‘desire’ or ‘appetite’ in Ecclesiastes 6:7 and 6:9. Appetite means desire for food. However, these verses are about something that is much more important than food. In the original language, the word for ‘desire’ or ‘appetite’ in these verses is the same word that we usually translate: ‘soul’.
The soul means the real person. It is from our soul - not our body - that our most important desires come. For example, our body needs food, so we feel hunger. But our soul needs a right relationship with God, and our soul cannot rest without him.
People work hard for their food, but food cannot satisfy the soul’s desire. That is why the wise person and the fool alike cannot find satisfaction without God. In this most important matter, the wisest person has no advantage. Careful study and thought do not give anyone a right relationship with God.
A poor person can hide the fact that he is poor. He can pretend that he is not hungry. People may believe him, but his own soul will still not find any satisfaction.
It is better to be content with the things that we have. Everyone knows that. But the things that we can see in this world cannot satisfy our souls. So the soul remains without rest, and people remain in a desperate state without God. And there is no remedy in this world.
But there is a remedy in God’s promises. A person who trusts Christ will find rest for his soul. Jesus promised that in Matthew 11:29. See also John 6:27 and Psalm 62:1.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.