Online Bible Commentary
What Will be Your Legacy?
Ecclesiastes 6:10 Whatever one is, he has been named already, For it is known that he is man; And he cannot contend with Him who is mightier than he. 11 Since there are many things that increase vanity, How is man the better? 12 For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun? 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment, And the day of death than the day of one's birth; 2 Better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting, For that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better. 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. (NKJV)
Solomon, son of David, was the king of Israel for some forty years from 970 B.C. until his death at the age of fifty-nine in 931 B.C. He wrote the book of Ecclesiastes likely near the end of his life, about 935 B.C.
Solomon, being the son of a king, had received the best education known to man at the time. He learned the best of human wisdom. He also was blessed by God with true wisdom, the wisdom from God. He was considered to be the wisest man ever to live.
In this passage, Solomon writes of how we should be serious and reflective about our life, and legacy. This passage carries over into the next chapter. The chapter divisions and titles were not part of the original text and this is one of the times where they are best ignored.
We have been “named already”, established in God’s order, as man (v. 10a). The word translated “man” is the Hebrew word “adam”, which also means red earth. Man has been established from the earth, formed of clay. He is no match for God, his creator (v. 10b). God knows what is best for man.
There are “many things” that can cause a man’s life to be lived in vain (v. 11a). Man is not “better”, more knowledgeable, than God (v. 11b). God knows best “what is good for man” in his vain and short life (v. 12a). God is the Alpha and Omega. He knows the beginning and the end. He knows what will happen even after the man passes from this earth, the man’s legacy (v. 12b).
So what should be a man’s legacy? “A good name”, a man’s character, “is better than precious ointment”, the costly and sweet fragrance of perfume (v.1a). The most expensive perfume can never take the place of a good name. A good name is good to have as part of our legacy.
A man’s day of death is better than his day of birth (v. 1b). Perhaps, Solomon is expressing his belief in an afterlife, which he has previously expressed (3:21). Or maybe he is saying that the man who leaves a good legacy is better than one who has no legacy.
It is better to reflect upon our life and legacy at a funeral, than to party in an effort to not have to think about our own mortality (v. 2a). At a funeral we are forced to think about death, and how we will all face it some day (v. 2b). We are forced to reflect on our own lives, and what our legacy will be.
It is better to be reflective, and serious, than to only seek “laughter” and avoidance (v. 3a). This can help us to have a better “heart”, be a better person (v. 3b). The wise person seeks out time for reflection and seriousness, whereas “fools” seek out only laughter and fun (v. 4). There is a time for both seriousness and laughter, but only fools seek out laughter all the time.
So what should be our legacy? Different people have different answers to this question. As for me, I would want to be remembered as one who tried to live a life that glorified our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I believe that should be part of every Christian’s legacy. What will be your legacy?