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All of a man’s troublesome toil is for his mouth,

yet his appetite

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is not satisfied.

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It sure seems like all of a man’s efforts go to fill his natural, physical needs that bring temporary benefits, yet the complex needs of the inner man are  never truly filled by those efforts.


1: “appetite”

This is the great Hebrew word for “life” which also means “spirit or inner man, and breath.” Besides that, one of its less common meanings is “appetite,” which is a proper translation here. However, while “appetite” is correct for this context, the choice of this word seems to point toward, or hint at, deeper things than just appetite as we know it in English. It points to the desires of the inner man. Those desires are more than just physical; they are also emotional, relational and spiritual. We spend most of our time and effort working to satisfy our physical needs to the point where none of our many desires are fully met because the physical needs just keep coming.

2: “Is not satisfied”

The reason that so much of our time and effort must go to working and meeting our daily needs is the sin that permeates our world. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, things would be very different. Effort would be required for some things, but it would be free of the frustrations we now face. God leaves these frustrations in our lives so that we will be constantly reminded of the reality of sin. While some will just get angry at God, others will turn to Him and follow Him. That is the risk He is willing to take.