Ecclesiastes 9:4
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Anyone who is among the living has hope --even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!

New Living Translation
There is hope only for the living. As they say, "It's better to be a live dog than a dead lion!"

English Standard Version
But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

New American Standard Bible
For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion.

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

Holman Christian Standard Bible
But there is hope for whoever is joined with all the living, since a live dog is better than a dead lion.

International Standard Version
"While someone is among the living, hope remains," because "it is better to be a living dog than to be a dead lion."

NET Bible
But whoever is among the living has hope; a live dog is better than a dead lion.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
But all who are among the living have hope, because a living dog is better than a dead lion.

Jubilee Bible 2000
For to him that is still among the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

King James 2000 Bible
For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

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

American Standard Version
For to him that is joined with all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

Douay-Rheims Bible
There is no man that liveth always, or that hopeth for this: a living dog is better than a dead lion.

Darby Bible Translation
For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

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

Webster's Bible Translation
For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

World English Bible
For to him who is joined with all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

Young's Literal Translation
But to him who is joined unto all the living there is confidence, for to a living dog it is better than to the dead lion.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

9:4-10 The most despicable living man's state, is preferable to that of the most noble who have died impenitent. Solomon exhorts the wise and pious to cheerful confidence in God, whatever their condition in life. The meanest morsel, coming from their Father's love, in answer to prayer, will have a peculiar relish. Not that we may set our hearts upon the delights of sense, but what God has given us we may use with wisdom. The joy here described, is the gladness of heart that springs from a sense of the Divine favour. This is the world of service, that to come is the world of recompence. All in their stations, may find some work to do. And above all, sinners have the salvation of their souls to seek after, believers have to prove their faith, adorn the gospel, glorify God, and serve their generation.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 4. - For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope. As long as a man lives (is one of living beings) he has some hope, whatever it be. This feeling is inextinguishable even unto the end.

Ἄελπτον οὐδέν πάντα δ ελπίζειν χρεών

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast." Thus Bailey sings, in 'Festus' -

"All Have hopes, however wretched they may be,
Or blessed. It is hope which lifts the lark so high,
Hope of a lighter air and bluer sky
;

And the poor hack which drops down on the flints,
Upon whose eye the dust is settling, he
Hopes, but to die. No being exists, of hope,
Of love, void."
This clause gives a reason for the folly of men, mentioned in ver. 3. Whatever be their lot, or their way of life, they see no reason to make any change by reformation or active exertion. They go on hoping, and do nothing. Something may turn up; amid the inexplicable confusion of the ordering of events some happy contingency may arrive. The above is the reading according to the Keri. Thus the Septuagint: Ὅτι τίς ὅς κοινωνεῖ; "For who is he that has fellowship with all the living?" Symmachus has, "For who is he that will always continue to live?" while the Vulgate gives, Nemo est qui semper vivat. The Khetib points differently, offering the reading, "For who is excepted?" i.e. from the common lot, the interrogation being closely connected with the preceding verse, or "Who can choose?" i.e. whether he will die or not. The sentence then proceeds, "To all the living there is hope." But the rendering of the Authorized Version has good authority, and affords the better sense. For a living dog is better than a dead lion. The dog in Palestine was not made a pet and companion, as it is among us, but was regarded as a loathsome and despicable object comp. 1 Samuel 17:43; 2 Samuel 3:8); while the lion was considered as the noblest of beasts, the type of power and greatness (comp. Proverbs 30:30; Isaiah 31:4). So the proverbial saying in the text means that the vilest and meanest creature possessed of life is better than the highest and mightiest which has succumbed to death. There is an apparent contradiction between this sentence and such passages as claim a preference for death over life, e.g. Ecclesiastes 4:2; Ecclesiastes 7:1; but in the latter the writer is viewing life with all its sorrows and bitter experiences, here he regards it as affording the possibility of enjoyment. In the one case he holds death as desirable, because it delivers from further sorrow and puts an end to misery; in the other, he deprecates death as cutting off from pleasure and hope. He may also have in mind that now is the time to do the work which we have to perform: "The night cometh when no man can work;" Ecclus. 17:28, "Thanksgiving perisheth from the dead, as from one that is not; the living and sound shall praise the Lord" (comp. Isaiah 38:18, 19.)

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope,.... That is, who is among the living, is one of them, and, as long as he is, there is hope, if his circumstances are mean, and he is poor and afflicted, that it may be better with him in time; see Job 14:7; or of his being a good man, though now wicked; of his being called and converted, as some are at the eleventh hour, even on a death bed; and especially there is a hope of men, if they are under the means of grace, seeing persons have been made partakers of the grace of God after long waiting. There is here a "Keri" and a "Cetib", a marginal reading and a textual writing; the former reads, "that is joined", the latter, "that is chosen"; our version follows the marginal reading, as do the Targum, Jarchi, Aben Ezra, the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions: some, following the latter, render the words, "who is to be chosen" (y), or preferred, a living, or a dead man? not a dead but a living man: "to all the living there is hope"; of their being better; and, as Jarchi observes, there is hope, while alive, even though he is a wicked man joined to the wicked; yea, there is hope of the wicked, that he may be good before he dies;

for a living dog is better than a dead lion; a proverbial speech, showing that life is to be preferred to death; and that a mean, abject, and contemptible person, living, who for his despicable condition may be compared to a dog, is to be preferred to the most generous man, or to the greatest potentate, dead; since the one may possibly be useful in some respects or another, the other cannot: though a living sinner, who is like to a dog for his uncleanness and vileness, is not better than a dead saint or righteous man, comparable to a lion, who has hope in his death, and dies in the Lord.

(y) "quisquis eligatur", Montanus, so Gejerus.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

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.

Ecclesiastes 9:4 Additional Commentaries
Context
Death Comes to Good and Bad
3This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one fate for all men. Furthermore, the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives. Afterwards they go to the dead. 4For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. 5For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten.…
Cross References
Ecclesiastes 9:3
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.

Ecclesiastes 9:5
For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.
Treasury of Scripture

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

Job 14:7-12 For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout …

Job 27:8 For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he has gained, when …

Isaiah 38:18 For the grave cannot praise you, death can not celebrate you: they …

Lamentations 3:21,22 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope…

Luke 16:26-29 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: …

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