Ecclesiastes 9: The Ultimate Chapter
July 2, 2012, 2:50 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

9:1-6  The ultimate mystery of life: death.

Death is the great proof that there is something wrong about humanity; it forces us to face reality.

1 For all this I considered (gave my heart or set my heart on) in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God (“in God’s control and possession.”) no man knoweth either love or hatred (in Hebrew two opposites together are a way of saying “everything.” Love and hate are best viewed as words for God’s favor and disfavor.by all that is before them.)

We are all in the hand of God and He does as He pleases.  If this was said about one of us, we would worry, because when we do as we please, it often demonstrates a selfish nature that takes advantage of others.  But God is good and holy, so we can expect Him to do what is RIGHT.  When we look at life from an overview, the events of life doesn’t show God as loving some while hating others.

At times, we create our own version of God, a version which with we are comfortable.  Our version of God,  immediately rewards the righteous and judges the wicked. What actually happens is very different.

Because God is longsuffering, His judgment upon sinners doesn’t occur immediately.  God give the opportunity to repent.  However, the sinner’s freedom from divine punishment causes him to fill his heart with madness and rebellion while he lives. The Hebrew word translated madness implies a blindness to the true issues. While alive there is hope of repentance or as verse 4 “A living dog is better than a dead lion”.

The living know that they shall die. Although at first this seems a pointless advantage, in reality the possession of this knowledge represents a great advantage. As long as a man is alive and is experiencing the grace of God as it encounters him in the various “time events” of his days, there is the possibility that he may be moved to consider his ways

2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.

3 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

9:3 event- simply refers to an outcome determined by God.

9:3 all men- all have sinned, universal depravity.

 4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

9:4 In this verse, Solomon uses a proverb that says a living lowly creature is preferable to a dead exalted creature. The point is not that death is the absolute end of all things; instead, the point is that while there is life, there is hope of doing something to the glory of God.

5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

9:5, 6 This, again, is not a flat denial of any hope beyond the grave. The point of view is limited to what can be known strictly from a human point of view, “under the sun.” they have no more reward: The Preacher’s point appears to be the same as that in the Gospel of John: One must work while it is still day (that is, while one is still alive), for the night will come when no one can work (John 9:4).

7–10 The ultimate profit: a joyful life.

The way to ultimate profit, is to commit to enjoying life and don’t get tied up with the problems of life.  We are to actively enjoy the little gifts of God.  To those who seek the treasures of this world, this concept is rejected. Men also need the inner conviction of God’s approval and acceptance of those who seek to walk before Him in righteousness instead of seeking outward tokens of His approval.  He delights in our decision to rest in Him and obey.

The Preacher also counsels us to “keep your garments white and anoint your head with fragrant spiced oil”. He tells men to get a wife and bask in the sunshine of her love. A man must love that wife all the days of his life and prize her as one of God’s choicest gifts. Here the emphasis is on monogamy and the intensity of relationship which the man and woman are to share a relationship that would not be possible in a polygamous structure. The companionship shared between a right-man and a right-woman joined in the bond of love will provide one of life’s greatest rewards for men and women who labor under the sun (4:9).

Men filled with the knowledge of these wise principles should enter upon the tasks of life with great boldness. Whatever we are to do, we must see it as a gift from the Lord and enter into its challenge with an awareness that He will hold us accountable for what we do with His provisions. When the spirit goes upward, there is no opportunity for making up tasks left undone.

7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. (God meant for all His gifts to be enjoyed. The image of bread and wine is frequently used in Scripture as a symbol of the fact that God gives comfort and cheer to people.)

8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.

9:8 It was difficult in ancient times to keep white garments clean. White garments and ointments—oil—were both symbols of joy and purity as well as symbols of festivity and joy.

9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.  (Marriage is the gift of God. “Marriage is honorable” and the marriage bed should be kept “undefiled,”.  Marriage is to be cherished and unfaithfulness avoided. Life of vanity, or the life which passes so quickly.

10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave (Sheol- the place of the departed dead), whither thou goest.

9:10 It is possible that the apostle Paul had this verse in mind when he wrote, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Col. 3:23). no work … in the grave: there will be no work because our focus on the torments.

 11–18. The ultimate question:  why do good people not receive all the rewards and bad people all the punishments?

11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. (time and chance. Wisdom cannot guarantee good outcomes because of what appear to be so many unpredictable contingencies.

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. Do these things for only the diligent practice of them will lead to true profit, profit that isn’t dependent on the events of life.  Do these things because life is uncertain and can end at anytime. “the swift … strong … wise … men of understanding … men of skill”: These five assets were enjoyed by individuals. But while some planned and counted on their assets, God in the end determined their lot.  Who was speedier than Asahel (2 Sam. 2:22, 23), stronger than Samson (Judg. 16:19), wiser than Solomon (1 Kin. 11:1–25), more discerning than Ahithophel (2 Sam. 16:23; 17:5–14), or more learned than Moses (Ex. 2:11–15; Acts 7:22)?

The winner in life is not always the one who you would think should win.

One sinner destroys much good, but the way of wisdom is still the better way.”

God’s hero in this world is the poor wise man who is ready to do his part, even though men will despise him, refuse to hear his words, and ultimately forget him. Such a man is, however, a man compelled by a sense of duty. He continues to speak the words of wisdom, regardless of the response of others. He has found the way to profit, and duty compels him to share it with all.

The words of the Preacher will only be heard by those who have an inner quietness.

12 For man also knoweth not his time  (The time of his misfortune, especially death).: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

 13 This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me:

9:11–13 We would like to think that the best always win, that the deserving are always rewarded. But our experience shows that these expectations are not always realized. not to.

9:14–18 Here is a parable about how an unstoppable military operation against a small city was prevented by the wisdom of one poor but wise man. The conclusion is that wisdom is preferable to strength and should be heeded.

14 There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:

15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.

16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.  (a poor wise man is despised because he lacks status and position).

17 The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.

18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.



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