Chapter 9

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1 For all this I considered in my heart, euen to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their workes, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either loue, or hatred, by all that is before them.

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

3 This is an euill among all things that are done vnder the Sunne, that there is one euent vnto all: yea also the heart of the sonnes of men is full of euill, and madnesse is in their heart while they liue, and after that they goe to the dead.

4 For to him that is ioyned to all the liuing, there is hope: for a liuing dogge is better then a dead Lion.

5 For the liuing know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither haue they any more a reward, for the memorie of them is forgotten.

6 Also their loue, and their hatred, and their enuy is now perished; neither haue they any more a portion for euer in any thing that is done vnder the Sunne.

7 Goe thy way, eate thy bread with ioy, and drinke thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy workes.

8 Let thy garments bee alwayes white; and let thy head lacke no oyntment.

9 Liue ioyfully with the wife, whom thou louest, all the dayes of the life of thy vanitie, which he hath giuen thee vnder the Sunne, all the dayes of thy vanitie: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest vnder the Sunne.

10 Whatsoeuer thy hand findeth to doe, doe it with thy might: for there is no worke, nor deuice, nor knowledge, nor wisedome in the graue, whither thou goest.

11 I returned, and saw vnder the Sunne, That the race is not to the swift, nor the battell to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of vnderstanding, nor yet fauour to men of skil; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

12 For man also knoweth not his time, as the fishes that are taken in an euil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sonnes of men snared in an euill time, when it falleth suddenly vpon them.

13 This wisedome haue I seene also vnder the Sunne, and it seemed great vnto me:

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

15 Now there was found in it a poore wise man, and hee by his wisedome deliuered the citie; yet no man remembred that same poore man.

16 Then said I, Wisedome is better then strength: neuerthelesse, the poore mans wisedome is despised, and his words are not heard.

17 The words of wise men are heard in quiet, more then the cry of him that ruleth among fooles.

18 Wisedome is better then weapons of warre: but one sinner destroyeth much good.

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Commentary for Ecclesiastes 9

Good and bad men fare alike as to this world. (1-3) All men must die, Their portion as to this life. (4-10) Disappointments common. (11,12) Benefits of wisdom. (13-18)1-3 We are not to think our searching into the word or works of God useless, because we cannot explain all difficulties. We may learn many things good for ourselves and useful to others. But man cannot always decide who are objects of God's special love, or under his wrath; and God will certainly put a difference between the precious and the vile, in the other world. The difference as to present happiness, arises from the inward supports and consolations the righteous enjoy, and the benefit they derive from varied trials and mercies. As far as the sons of men are left to themselves, their hearts are full of evil; and prosperity in sin, causes them even to set God at defiance by daring wickedness. Though, on this side death, the righteous and the wicked may often seem to fare alike, on the other side there will be a vast difference between them.

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.

11,12 Men's success seldom equals their expectations. We must use means, but not trust to them: if we succeed, we must give God the praise; if crossed, we must submit to his will. Those who put off the great concerns of their souls, are caught in Satan's net, which he baits with some worldly object, for which they reject or neglect the gospel, and go on in sin till they suddenly fall into destruction.

13-18 A man may, by his wisdom, bring to pass that which he could never do by his strength. If God be for us, who can be against us, or stand before us? Solomon observes the power of wisdom, though it may labour under outward disadvantages. How forcible are right words! But wise and good men must often content themselves with the satisfaction of having done good, or, at least, endeavoured to do it, when they cannot do the good they would, nor have the praise they should. How many of the good gifts, both of nature and Providence, does one sinner destroy and make waste! He who destroys his own soul destroys much good. One sinner may draw many into his destroying ways. See who are the friends and enemies of a kingdom or a family, if one saint does much good, and one sinner destroys much good.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

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