Chapter 9

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1 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.

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.

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

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.

7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.

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

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.

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, whither thou goest.

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.

12 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Discussion for Ecclesiastes 9

  • Jesse on Ecclesiastes 9:5
    To whoever is upset about not being able to pray to there lost loved ones ,or talk to them. Be happy that the Bible is here for us and it is very True and when it says the dead no nothing, the dead no nothing!!! I lost my mom when I was 29 a day before my bday so I can relate how it may be saddening to learn this , but you have to believe it so if you believe. Be glad you have Jesus to talk to he will get you to God! Amen
  • Jesse - in Reply on Ecclesiastes 9:5
    Sorry for your loss!
  • Antoine Swift Israel on Ecclesiastes 9:5
    Besides ecclesiastes 9 -5,6 ...Where else does scripture speak on the dead not knowing anything
  • Marc - in Reply on Ecclesiastes 9:5
    "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."

    Ecclesiastes 9:10

    "For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?"

    Psalms 6:5

    "Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?"

    Psalms 88:12

    "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this dayFor David did not ascend into the heavens"(Acts 2:29, 34)

    Our hope in Christ is the hope of the resurrection.

    "For as by a man (Adam) came death, by a man (Jesus) has come also the resurrection of the dead." 1 Corinthians 15:21
  • Gerald on Ecclesiastes 9
    Explain verse 11 and how it applies to the people of today.
  • Salomão Matsinhe on Ecclesiastes 9
    As reading verse 12 where it says "man knows not his time is like a fish and bird" they are taken in an evil net. Proverbs 1:17 Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. Says the fish prayer : Oh God deliver me from the net of the fisher!
  • Salomão Matsinhe on Ecclesiastes 9
    Praise God for his word. I appreciatted the commentary from Godwin where he said not by smartness neither by strength...But by God's grace man become successful.This verse is not discouraging us from going for knowledge or skills, go after them but acknowledge that is the sovereign judge. God bless us.
  • I Am that Michael Isaac Dale on Ecclesiastes 9
    He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? He mocks the sufferings of a child of GOD in the sight of my Holy Father. He speaks evil of this woman (my own blood,) not seeing that a pit is digged not for her, but him: her blood is on his hands. Nevertheless through envy of the devil came death into the world: and they that do hold of his side do find it.
  • Bruce on Ecclesiastes 9
    One that Looked Good and now babbling about no oxygen from smoking all them cigarettes hoping to find The Fountain of Youth: There's no Such fountain / There is a Fountain at The Cross, Where All Can be Made New(2 Corinthians 5:17) Works of The Flesh(Galatians 5:19-21) Thou Shall Not Suffer a Witch to Live(Exodus 22:18)
  • Jacqueline on Ecclesiastes 9
    Eccl. 9 instructs me how to go about running and completing the race I've been assigned to by Almighty God. From the beginning of time he has equipped me with "the measure of faith" in which to be victorious. Each race is different for each of us. Know, we are equipped by his power and might and to lean/depend not to our own understanding, but to look to him, the author/finisher of our faith


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According to the 'Preacher' of Ecclesiastes, a living dog is better than what?
  • A dead lion
  • A lame bird
  • A barren field
  • A sad heart