World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
Take Life as It Comes
All this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God; whether it is love or hate one does not know. Everything that confronts them 2is vanity, since the same fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to those who sacrifice and those who do not sacrifice. As are the good, so are the sinners; those who swear are like those who shun an oath. 3This is an evil in all that happens under the sun, that the same fate comes to everyone. Moreover, the hearts of all are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 4But whoever is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no more reward, and even the memory of them is lost. 6Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished; never again will they have any share in all that happens under the sun.
7 Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has long ago approved what you do. 8Let your garments always be white; do not let oil be lacking on your head. 9Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that are given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all. 12For no one can anticipate the time of disaster. Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them.
Wisdom Superior to Folly
13 I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me. 14There was a little city with few people in it. A great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. 15Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16So I said, “Wisdom is better than might; yet the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heeded.”
The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
than the shouting of a ruler among fools.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one bungler destroys much good.
1. declare—rather, explore; the result of my exploring is this, that "the righteous, &c., are in the hand of God. No man knoweth either the love or hatred (of God to them) by all that is before them," that is, by what is outwardly seen in His present dealings (Ec 8:14, 17). However, from the sense of the same words, in Ec 9:6, "love and hatred" seem to be the feelings of the wicked towards the righteous, whereby they caused to the latter comfort or sorrow. Translate: "Even the love and hatred" (exhibited towards the righteous, are in God's hand) (Ps 76:10; Pr 16:7). "No man knoweth all that is before them."
2. All things … alike—not universally; but as to death. Ec 9:2-10 are made by Holden the objection of a skeptical sensualist. However, they may be explained as Solomon's language. He repeats the sentiment already implied in Ec 2:14; 3:20; 8:14.
one event—not eternally; but death is common to all.
sacrificeth—alike to Josiah who sacrificed to God, and to Ahab who made sacrifice to Him cease.
sweareth—rashly and falsely.
3. Translate, "There is an evil above all (evils) that are done," &c., namely, that not only "there is one event to all," but "also the heart of the sons of men" makes this fact a reason for "madly" persisting in "evil while they live, and after that," &c., sin is "madness."
4. For—rather, "Nevertheless." English Version rightly reads as the Margin, Hebrew, "that is joined," instead of the text, "who is to be chosen?"
hope—not of mere temporal good (Job 14:7); but of yet repenting and being saved.
dog—metaphor for the vilest persons (1Sa 24:14).
lion—the noblest of animals (Pr 30:30).
better—as to hope of salvation; the noblest who die unconverted have no hope; the vilest, so long as they have life, have hope.
6. love, and … hatred, &c.—(referring to Ec 9:1; see on Ec 9:1). Not that these cease in a future world absolutely (Eze 32:27; Re 22:11); but as the end of this verse shows, relatively to persons and things in this world. Man's love and hatred can no longer be exercised for good or evil in the same way as here; but the fruits of them remain. What he is at death he remains for ever. "Envy," too, marks the wicked as referred to, since it was therewith that they assailed the righteous (see on Ec 9:1).
portion—Their "portion" was "in this life" (Ps 17:14), that they now "cannot have any more."
7. Addressed to the "righteous wise," spoken of in Ec 9:1. Being "in the hand of God," who now accepteth "thy works" in His service, as He has previously accepted thy person (Ge 4:4), thou mayest "eat … with a cheerful (not sensually 'merry') heart" (Ec 3:13; 5:18; Ac 2:46).
8. white—in token of joy (Isa 61:3). Solomon was clad in white (Josephus, Antiquities, 8:7,3); hence his attire is compared to the "lilies" (Mt 6:29), typical of the spotless righteousness of Jesus Christ, which the redeemed shall wear (Re 3:18; 7:14).
9. wife … lovest—godly and true love, opposed to the "snares" of the "thousand" concubines (Ec 7:26, 28), "among" whom Solomon could not find the true love which joins one man to one woman (Pr 5:15, 18, 19; 18:22; 19:14).
10. Whatsoever—namely, in the service of God. This and last verse plainly are the language of Solomon, not of a skeptic, as Holden would explain it.
hand, &c.—(Le 12:8, Margin; 1Sa 10:7, Margin).
11. This verse qualifies the sentiment, Ec 9:7-9. Earthly "enjoyments," however lawful in their place (Ec 3:1), are to give way when any work to be done for God requires it. Reverting to the sentiment (Ec 8:17), we ought, therefore, not only to work God's work "with might" (Ec 9:10), but also with the feeling that the event is wholly "in God's hand" (Ec 9:1).
favour—of the great.
chance—seemingly, really Providence. But as man cannot "find it out" (Ec 3:11), he needs "with all might" to use opportunities. Duties are ours; events, God's.
evil net—fatal to them. The unexpected suddenness of the capture is the point of comparison. So the second coming of Jesus Christ, "as a snare" (Lu 21:35).
evil time—as an "evil net," fatal to them.
13. Rather, "I have seen wisdom of this kind also," that is, exhibited in the way which is described in what follows [Maurer].
14, 15. (2Sa 20:16-22).
bulwarks—military works of besiegers.
15. poor—as to the temporal advantages of true wisdom, though it often saves others. It receives little reward from the world, which admires none save the rich and great.
no man remembered—(Ge 40:23).
17. The words of wise, &c.—Though generally the poor wise man is not heard (Ec 9:16), yet "the words of wise men, when heard in quiet (when calmly given heed to, as in Ec 9:15), are more serviceable than," &c.
18. one sinner, &c.—(Jos 7:1, 11, 12). Though wisdom excels folly (Ec 9:16; 7:19), yet a "little folly (equivalent to sin) can destroy much good," both in himself (Ec 10:1; Jas 2:10) and in others. "Wisdom" must, from the antithesis to "sinner," mean religion. Thus typically, the "little city" may be applied to the Church (Lu 12:32; Heb 12:22); the great king to Satan (Joh 12:31); the despised poor wise man, Jesus Christ (Isa 53:2, 3; Mr 6:3; 2Co 8:9; Eph 1:7, 8; Col 2:3).