We will now begin Chapter 9 of the great book of Ecclesiastes.
9:1-2 “So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them. All share a common destiny-the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good, so with the sinful; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them.”
- The first part of this verse is not telling us that God is the “puppet-master” of every action that we do. He does not control our every move, but the good things we do reflect Him. All people have the same fate: death. We will all die whether we are righteous or wicked.
9:3-4 “ This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. Anyone who is among the living has hope- even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!”
- The dead cannot change what they have done, but the living can. We all die so we need to change what we can now. Solomon refers to a live dog and a dead lion. Usually a lion is always better than a dog, but in the case that the lion is dead, anything living is better off than the lion.
9:5-6 “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.”
- This whole section is basically about the hope of the living. He gives many examples of why the living have hope. It’s because they are living. The dead have no hope because what’s done is done. Hope lives as long as people live.
9:7-9 “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun-all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.”
- After Solomon talks about the fate of all, which is death, he tells us to enjoy it while it lasts. There is no use in wasting the time we have, so use it to glorify God. Enjoy what we get in return for our labor and soon enough, we will get our reward for being his children.
9:10 “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”
- What Solomon is saying here is whatever work we do, do it with all our strength. Not just physical strength, but mental strength as well. The “where you are going” part of this verse does not describe heaven or hell. It is describing the grave, the physical earth in which our bodies lay once we die. We can’t do any work on this earth once we die. Our physical bodies are dead, and nothing can be done with them.
9:11 “ I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.”
- Solomon gives several examples of how things don’t always go according to plan. In 2 Samuel 2:18, Asahel was a fast runner, but Abner was able to kill him. In 1 Samuel 17:41-51, Goliath, the tallest and strongest of them all, was killed by a small but brave (soon to be king) David. In these examples the race and the battle is life itself. When we talk about the time we have, or chance (luck), we are basically saying we cannot control the outcome of every situation. Just because we’re the biggest or strongest doesn’t mean we’ll always win. Time and chance goes to everyone.
9:12 “Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.”
- As Solomon has talked about death in this chapter, he reminds us that we cannot predict it. He uses examples as fish caught in a net, or birds taken in a trap. Death is unpredictable.
9:13-16 “I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.”
- Here Solomon gives us an example, of how wisdom is better than strength. This incident may have happened, because Solomon uses the phrase ‘I also saw under the sun’ meaning that he probably saw it and it impressed him. A small town was being attacked by a great king and army, the town is defenseless. Now we don’t know how he did it, but somehow a poor but wise man saved the city. But no one remembered the man, all they see is the action. So Solomon states that ‘Wisdom is better than strength’.
9:17-18 “The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.”
- King Solomon says that the quiet words of the wise need to be paid attention to more than the shouts of a foolish ruler. The words of the wise don’t come as loudly and clear as shouts do, but it’s those voices that need the most heeding to. They will get us farther than shouts of a fool.
This concludes the ninth chapter of Ecclesiastes.