We cannot predict our own future.
VERSE 1. For all this I laid to my heart, even to explore all this: that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God; whether it is love or hatred, man doesn’t know it; all is before them.
in the hand of God. We are not the masters of our own fate.
VERSE 2. All things come alike to all. There is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good, to the clean, to the unclean, to him who sacrifices, and to him who doesn’t sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; he who takes an oath, as he who fears an oath.
VERSE 3. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one event to all: yes 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.
one event to all. We all share a common destiny.
after that they go to the dead. The New Testament describes heaven and eternal life. But what does the Old Testament say about life after death? Read more »
VERSE 4. For to him who is joined with all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
a living dog. In those days, to refer to someone as a “dog” was a bad thing. And to refer to yourself as a “dog” was a way of referring to yourself as worthless.
1 Samuel 24:14. Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea?
2 Samuel 9:8. He bowed down, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look at such a dead dog as I am?”
2 Samuel 16:9. Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please let me go over and take off his head.”
Ecclesiastes 9:4. For to him who is joined with all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
better than a dead lion. In this verse, to be a living dog is better than to be a dead lion. Life is preferable to death.
VERSE 5. For the living know that they will die, but the dead don’t know anything, neither do they have any more a reward; for their memory is forgotten.
the dead don’t know anything. The New Testament describes heaven and eternal life. But what does the Old Testament say about life after death? Read more »
VERSE 6. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy has perished long ago; neither do they any longer have a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun.
VERSE 7. Go your way — eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works.
NLT translation. So go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this! Wear fine clothes, with a splash of cologne!
God approves of this. Some people cannot imagine the LORD God wants them having a nice life.
They imagine God will only approve if they wear shabby clothes and act sad, and avoid fun. But God calls us to enjoy our lives!
VERSE 8. Let your garments be always white, and don’t let your head lack oil.
VERSE 9. Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your life of vanity, which he has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity: for that is your portion in life, and in your labor in which you labor under the sun.
NLT translation. Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil.
Live happily with the woman you love. Some married people live as though their partner is a threat.
But the LORD God calls couples to cultivate a life together that is rich and meaningful.
VERSE 10. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor plan, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, where you are going.
Sheol, where you are going. The New Testament describes heaven and eternal life. But what does the Old Testament say about life after death? Read more »
VERSE 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 favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.
NAB translation. Again I saw under the sun that the race is not won by the swift, nor the battle by the valiant, nor a livelihood by the wise, nor riches by the shrewd, nor favor by the experts; for a time of calamity comes to all alike.
This is a very famous verse.
VERSE 12. For man also doesn’t know his time. As the fish that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, even so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly on them.
VERSE 13. I have also seen wisdom under the sun in this way, and it seemed great to me.
VERSE 14. There was a little city, and few men within it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it.
VERSE 15. Now a poor wise man was found in it, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.
a poor wise man. In every city there are poor people. Some of them are profoundly wise.
by his wisdom delivered the city. This poor wise man saved the entire city.
no man remembered. The poor wise man was not rewarded for saving the entire city.
VERSE 16. Then I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.
VERSE 17. The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the cry of him who rules among fools.
the wise heard in quiet. Wise people rarely shout. But their words are worth hearing.
cry of him who rules among fools. The NAB translation says:
the shout of a ruler of fools.
In our day, our rulers often shout. And they say things that only appeal to fools.
VERSE 18. Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.