“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” (v.10). We know so much about man and his tendencies. Virtually nothing man does is really a surprise anymore, neither to God or man. Nor can man argue or fight against God or “show Him up.” God is so much greater than man, and although man is predictable and unsurprising, God is unpredictable and surprising.
“Since there are many things that increase vanity, how is man the better?” (v.11) So many extra things in life that are unnecessary. Information, material possessions, fame, power…in the end, it increases vanity and does man no good.
“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?” (v.12) What really has value in life? Does life just pass away into nothingness with no meaning at all?
Sounds like a depressing passage, but it’s encouraging to be reminded of God’s sovereignty and preeminence over all of life. Man “cannot contend with Him who is mightier than he.”
Look at pitiful lowly man,
All that’s good for him is vain.
To contend with God he never can,
So from worldly things he should refrain.