In Ecclesiastes 9:1-12 reasons are adduced for the universal conclusion Ecclesiastes 8:17 that no person can understand the works of God. This does not, however, prevent the assertion of the practical advantage in this life of that wisdom which includes the fear of God (Ecclesiastes 9:13 ff). Compare Ecclesiastes 9:1-10 with Wisd. 2:1-9.
For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.A good man's trust in God is set forth as a counterpoise to our Ignorance of the ways of Providence.
No man ... - literally, both love and also hatred man knoweth not: all are before them. Love and hatred here mean the ordinary outward tokens of God's favor or displeasure, i. e., prosperity and adversity. "Man knoweth not" probably means: "man knows not whether to expect prosperity or adversity from God; all his earthly future is in obscurity."
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.Event - See Ecclesiastes 2:14 note.
Sweareth - i. e., Swears lightly or profanely.
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.Compare Ecclesiastes 8:11. The seeming indiscriminateness of the course of events tends to encourage evil-disposed men in their folly.
For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.For to him - Rather: "Yet to him." Notwithstanding evils, life has its advantage, and especially when compared with death.
Dog - To the Hebrews a type of all that was contemptible 1 Samuel 17:43.
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.See Ecclesiastes 8:12, note; Ecclesiastes 8:14, note. The living are conscious that there is a future before them: but the dead are unconscious; they earn nothing, receive nothing, even the memory of them soon disappears; they are no longer excited by the passions which belong to people in this life; their share in its activity has ceased. Solomon here describes what he sees, not what he believes; there is no reference here to the fact or the mode of the existence of the soul in another world, which are matters of faith.
The last clause of Ecclesiastes 9:6 indicates that the writer confines his observations on the dead to their portion in, or relation to, this world.
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.Now - Rather: "long ago."
Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.Read these six verses connectedly, in order to arrive at the meaning of the writer; and compare Ecclesiastes 2:1-12.
After the description Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 of the portionless condition of the dead, the next thought which occurs is that the man who is prosperous and active should simply enjoy his portion all through this life Ecclesiastes 9:7-10; and then Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 follows the correcting thought (see Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 note), introduced as usual Ecclesiastes 2:12; Ecclesiastes 4:1, Ecclesiastes 4:7 by "I returned," namely, that the course of events is disposed and regulated by another will than that of man.
The person addressed is one whose life of labor is already pleasing to God, and who bears visible tokens of God's favor.
Now accepteth - Rather: "already has pleasure in." Joy (the marginal reference note) is regarded as a sign of the approbation and favor of God.
Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.White garments and perfume are simply an expressive sign of joy.
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.
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, whither thou goest.The works which we carry on here with the combined energies of body and soul come to an end in the hour of death, when the soul enters a new sphere of existence, and body and soul cease to act together. Compare John 9:4.
Device - See Ecclesiastes 7:25 note.
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.Chance - Or, "incident," that which comes to us from without, one of the external events described in Ecclesiastes 3. Compare Ecclesiastes 2:14 note.
For man also knoweth not his time: 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.Time - See Ecclesiastes 3:1 ff.
This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me:Or, Also this have I seen - wisdom under the sun, and great it seemed to me.
From this verse to the end of Ecclesiastes 10, the writer inculcates, in a series of proverbs, wisdom in contrast to folly, as the best remedy in the present life to the evil of vanity.
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:A parable probably without foundation in fact. Critics who ascribe this book to a late age offer no better suggestion than that the "little city" may be Athens delivered 480 b.c. from the host of Xerxes through the wisdom of Themistocles, or Dora besieged 218 b.c. by Antiochus the Great.
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.
Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.
The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.Sinner - The word in the original indicates intellectual as well as moral error.