1 I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on mankind: 2 God gives some people wealth, possessions and honor, so that they lack nothing their hearts desire, but God does not grant them the ability to enjoy them, and strangers enjoy them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.
First a quick note on the word heart above, it is from the Hebrew nephesh which is much more frequently translated as soul; instead of the more common Hebrew leb for heart which in the outline of Biblical usage may also refer to the soul.
With that out of the way, today’s verses are very much different from those we looked at yesterday, especially 5:20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. Here in verse two, even though they have all their hearts desire, they do not have the ability to enjoy them. Even worse it is God that denies them the ability to enjoy them. Why? What would cause God to do this? These are questions that naturally spring to mind. The Pulpit commentary says simply The ability to enjoy all these good things is wanting, either from discontent, or moroseness, or sickness, or as a punishment for secret sin.
However, only the latter is truly from God, the others are from a mental or moral defect such as always wanting more, never being satisfied. Ever wanting more is a form of idol worship, worshipping the god of MORE MORE MORE. Worshipping such a god has nothing to do with thanking the one true God for what one does have leading to thankfulness, contentment, and enjoyment of what one does have.
Or it could be he cannot enjoy it because he cannot let go of what he has, always clutching it, trying to keep it all, never letting any go except when he absolutely has to do so. This is not thrift, but lacking ownership of one’s possessions and instead letting one’s possessions own him. Such a person cannot enjoy what they have, they are too busy doing their best to hoard it all … and to no avail. Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible says something very similar about such a person
he has no desire to it; or rather he has no heart to enjoy what he has, and scarce any part of it; not to eat and drink, and wear suitably to his circumstances, but grudges whatever he lays out on his back or belly, or in housekeeping in his family; for though God gives him a large substance, yet not a heart to make use of it, without which he cannot enjoy it.
The key here is whatever he does use he does so grudgingly. I pray I, nor any member of my family, nor any of my friends, every experience life in such a manner. What a horrible way to live and just as bad as the person always wanting MORE and MORE.
Jesus had something to say about these attitudes as well from Luke 12
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”