Ecclesiastes 4:6
Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and pursuit of the wind.
Quality Better than QuantityT. C. Finlayson.Ecclesiastes 4:6
The Handful with QuietnessD. Thomas Ecclesiastes 4:6
Ambition and IndolenceJ. Willcock Ecclesiastes 4:4-6
Practical Wisdom in the Conduct of LifeW. Clarkson Ecclesiastes 4:4-6
An Old Portrait of Modern MenHomilistEcclesiastes 4:4-8
EnvyH. E. Nolloth, B. D.Ecclesiastes 4:4-8
How the Success of Others Should Affect UsJ. Bonnet.Ecclesiastes 4:4-8

The lesson here imparted is proverbial. Every language has its own way of conveying and emphasizing this practical truth. Yet it is a belief more readily professed than actually made the basis of human conduct.



1. This appears from a consideration of human nature. "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesses."

2. And experience of human life enforces this lesson; for every observer of his fellow-men has remarked the unhappiness and pitiable moral state of some wealthy neighbors, and has known cases where narrow means have not hindered real well-being and felicity.

III. IT IS HENCE INFERRED THAT A QUIET MIND WITH POVERTY IS TO BE PREFERRED TO WEALTH WITH VEXATION. So it seemed even to Solomon in all his glory, and similar testimony has been borne by not a few of the great of this world, Nor, on the other hand, is it uncommon to find the healthy, happy, and pious among the poor rejoicing in their lot, and cherishing gratitude to God for the station to which they were born, and for the work to which they are called.


1. The comparison made by the wise man in this passage is a rebuke to envy. Who can tell what, if his two hands were filled with earthly good, he might, in consequence of his wealth, be called upon to endure of sorrow and of care?

2. On the other hand, this comparison is an encouragement to contentment. A handful is sufficient; and a quiet heart, grateful to God and at peace with men, can make what others might deem poverty not only endurable but welcome. It is God's blessing which maketh rich; and with it he addeth no sorrow. - T.

Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.
The "quietness" here spoken of is not the inactivity of sloth, but that restfulness of spirit which an industrious man may enjoy when his industry is pervaded by a cheerful contentment. Now, here is one of those maxims with which Ecclesiastes sought to comfort the hearts and to direct the conduct of his countrymen. Many of them might be disposed to murmur because the times were adverse to their acquisition of wealth. But he wishes them to remember that, even if the times had been more prosperous, they themselves would not necessarily have been more happy. He directs their attention away from quantity to quality of possession. One man may get more real satisfaction out of a little than another man gets out of much. Two handfuls are not necessarily better than one. It depends on what is in the hands. One handful of grain is better than two handfuls of chaff. It depends also on what kind of man has the handful or handfuls. Happiness, in its degree and quality, varies with the man who enjoys, as welt as with the means of enjoyment. Yea, and even the same man may possibly get more satisfaction out of one handful than out of two handfuls of the same thing. It depends on whether the additional handful does not bring with it something else as well. In human life it often happens that a plus involves a minus; a gain in one direction means a loss in another. This, indeed, is no argument for "folding the hands" in sloth or indifference; for there is no weariness like the weariness of idleness, and there is no more prolific source of cares than carelessness. But it is an argument against that spirit of envious rivalry and selfish, restless ambition, which lessens the capacity, in the very act of increasing the means, of enjoyment. This maxim of Ecclesiastes is well worth pondering. It is pitched in the same key as the maxim of the Apostle Paul: "Godliness with contentment is great gain": and it reminds us of the still more inclusive maxim of our Lord Himself: "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."

(T. C. Finlayson.)

Better, Chasing, Desire, Fists, Full, Handful, Handfuls, Hands, Labor, Labour, Pursuit, Quietness, Rest, Spirit, Striving, Toil, Tranquillity, Travail, Trouble, Vexation, Wind
1. vanity is increased unto men by oppression
4. by envy
5. by idleness
7. by covetousness
9. by solitariness
13. by willfulness

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Ecclesiastes 4:6

     5057   rest, physical
     6701   peace, search for

The Order of Thought which Surrounded the Development of Jesus.
As the cooled earth no longer permits us to understand the phenomena of primitive creation, because the fire which penetrated it is extinct, so deliberate explanations have always appeared somewhat insufficient when applying our timid methods of induction to the revolutions of the creative epochs which have decided the fate of humanity. Jesus lived at one of those times when the game of public life is freely played, and when the stake of human activity is increased a hundredfold. Every great part,
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus

In making the following thread to the rich literature on Constantine the plan has been to confine almost wholly to Monographs, since to refer to all histories, encyclopædias, and the like which treat of him would be endless. Only such few analyzed references are introduced as have special reasons. Even with this limit it cannot be at all hoped that the list is exhaustive. Considerable pains has been taken, however, to make it full, as there is no really extended modern list of works on Constantine,
Eusebius Pamphilius—The Life of Constantine

And for Your Fearlessness against them Hold this Sure Sign -- Whenever There Is...
43. And for your fearlessness against them hold this sure sign--whenever there is any apparition, be not prostrate with fear, but whatsoever it be, first boldly ask, Who art thou? And from whence comest thou? And if it should be a vision of holy ones they will assure you, and change your fear into joy. But if the vision should be from the devil, immediately it becomes feeble, beholding your firm purpose of mind. For merely to ask, Who art thou [1083] ? and whence comest thou? is a proof of coolness.
Athanasius—Select Works and Letters or Athanasius

The Upbringing of Jewish Children
The tenderness of the bond which united Jewish parents to their children appears even in the multiplicity and pictorialness of the expressions by which the various stages of child-life are designated in the Hebrew. Besides such general words as "ben" and "bath"--"son" and "daughter"--we find no fewer than nine different terms, each depicting a fresh stage of life. The first of these simply designates the babe as the newly--"born"--the "jeled," or, in the feminine, "jaldah"--as in Exodus 2:3, 6, 8.
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

Letter xxxvi (Circa A. D. 1131) to the Same Hildebert, who had not yet Acknowledged the Lord Innocent as Pope.
To the Same Hildebert, Who Had Not Yet Acknowledged the Lord Innocent as Pope. He exhorts him to recognise Innocent, now an exile in France, owing to the schism of Peter Leonis, as the rightful Pontiff. To the great prelate, most exalted in renown, Hildebert, by the grace of God Archbishop of Tours, Bernard, called Abbot of Clairvaux, sends greeting, and prays that he may walk in the Spirit, and spiritually discern all things. 1. To address you in the words of the prophet, Consolation is hid from
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

Scriptures Showing the Sin and Danger of Joining with Wicked and Ungodly Men.
Scriptures Showing The Sin And Danger Of Joining With Wicked And Ungodly Men. When the Lord is punishing such a people against whom he hath a controversy, and a notable controversy, every one that is found shall be thrust through: and every one joined with them shall fall, Isa. xiii. 15. They partake in their judgment, not only because in a common calamity all shares, (as in Ezek. xxi. 3.) but chiefly because joined with and partakers with these whom God is pursuing; even as the strangers that join
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

It is not surprising that the book of Ecclesiastes had a struggle to maintain its place in the canon, and it was probably only its reputed Solomonic authorship and the last two verses of the book that permanently secured its position at the synod of Jamnia in 90 A.D. The Jewish scholars of the first century A.D. were struck by the manner in which it contradicted itself: e.g., "I praised the dead more than the living," iv. 2, "A living dog is better than a dead lion," ix. 4; but they were still more
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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