-Solomon’s final conclusions to all he has pondered begin in this chapter and will go for the final four chapters in the book. He has taken all these things to heart with the realization that righteous men, wise men, and their deeds are fully in the Hand of God Almighty. Anything and everything can happen to a person. Like Forrest Gump has said, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” We just don’t know exactly what will transpire. It could be love or hate and everything in between. The fate that we all experience in the end is physical death. Both good and bad will see an end to their lives because of the sin nature that has corrupted our bodies of flesh. No amount of sacrifice can stave off our passing away into eternity. The Preacher surmises that we are all full of evil and insanity in our hearts throughout our lives. Only the grace and mercy of God can save us for the eschaton. Hope is for the living Solomon says. He philosophizes that a living dog is better than a dead lion, and this is true in the temporal world. The living have knowledge that they will one day pass on, but the king presents, for whatever reason, a worldly understanding of the afterlife where the dead don’t know anything, have no reward, and their memory is forgotten. There is no longer a share in all that is done under the sun among the living. Their love, their hate, and their zeal have perished from this world. Because of these certainties, the advice is, once again, to eat bread in happiness and drink wine with a cheerful heart “for God has already approved your works.” Further, people are advised to enjoy the symbols of happiness and celebration with white clothes and the anointing of oil on the head. He tells humanity to enjoy life with the woman that we have been given in our fleeting lives, for she is a great reward in life (Proverbs 18:22) and in toil for which we have labored under the sun (Ecclesiastes 9:1-9).
-The realness of this temporal existence continues as Solomon tells his audience to do everything that we find to do with all our might, “for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where we are going. I take this to mean that it is a cessation of earthly activities, but not eternal activities of this sort. We definitely get a different perspective from the spiritual man, Paul, when he tells us to work heartily in everything we do as for the LORD, and not man, knowing that we will receive the inheritance (eternal inheritance) as our reward for serving Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:23-24). On this earth, the injust forces at work often give the race to the one who is not swift and the battle to the one who is not the best warrior. Neither does bread always go to the wise, nor wealth to the discerning, nor favor to people of ability. Time and chance have a way of overtaking the best of intentions in this world. In other words, we don’t always get what we want, or even deserve, due to the effects of a sinful, corrupted, and fallen world. Evil can have its way of suddenly falling upon us and we don’t know our time, “like fish caught in a treacherous net and birds trapped in a snare.” Solomon came to see this as wisdom under the sun, and it impressed him greatly. There was a tiny-little city with few men in it that came under siege from a mighty king. It was surrounded with large siegeworks placed against it. But, a poor-wise man was found in the small city, and he delivered the city by his wisdom. However, no one cared enough to remember the poor man. This led Solomon to the conclusion that, “Wisdom is better than strength,” but the poor man’s wisdom is despised without heeding his words. There will always be injustice in this world. “The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good (Ecclesiastes 9:10-18).”
-*Application* Proverbs, another book written primarily by Solomon, has the perspective of how the ideal life would go if everyone acted fairly. Ecclesiastes, on the other hand, truthfully explains what usually happens as consequences in our sinful, pathetic, and imperfect world. In light of this, we interpret these Scriptures for what they are, and keep an eternal perspective on things through Christ Jesus’ redemption. Do NOT let the discriminations of this fading life keep us from sober, enthusiastic service to our King.
Verse to Memorize: Ecclesiastes 9:18