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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Ecclesiastes

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FRAMEWORKS: Ecclesiastes 9


(The objective of these ‘Frameworks' is to provide an easy-to-read layout of the text in order then to use these individual verses for meditation. To achieve this we have used a variety of means, notes, headings, verse summaries.)



FRAMEWORKS: Ecclesiastes 9: Dealing with the Uncertainties of Life


[Preliminary Comments : There is more of a cohesion in this chapter as the subject of ‘uncertainty', which has been there in the background of previous chapters, comes more to the fore now in the form of somewhat gloomy warnings about having a limited life as we face death [v.2,3,5,10,12 – all underlined]. Uncertainty is the name of the game [v.1], and we will all die sometime [v.2] while we have to wait out our time on this fallen world [v.3]. While we are alive we still have hope [v.4-7] and so we should live wisely [v.8-10], remembering all the while the length of our time on earth is always uncertain [v.11,12]. The chapter finishes with a strange example of how wisdom prevailed but was forgotten [v.13-15] yet, Solomon maintains, wisdom is still best [v.16-18]. Really a call to catch the big picture of the whole of our life span which is different for every person.]



v.1 Even the righteous & the wise do not know the future

v.1   So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God's hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them.


v.2 The good and the bad, we all share the same destiny – we die

v.2  All share a common destiny – the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.

As it is with the good,
     so with the sinful;
as it is with those who take oaths,
     so with those who are afraid to take them.


v.3 Sin reigns throughout mankind

v.3  This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterwards they join the dead.


v.4-6 While you are alive you have hope and choice

v.4  Anyone who is among the living has hope – even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!

v.5  For the living know that they will die,
     but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
     and even their name is forgotten.
v.6  Their love, their hate
     and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
     in anything that happens under the sun.


v.7 The fact that you are still alive suggests God's approval of you

v.7  Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.


v.8 Take care of yourself

v.8  Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil.


v.9 Find pleasure with your wife

v.9  Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun – all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labour under the sun.


v.10 Be industrious making the most of your life

v.10  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.


v.11 Hold life lightly for it is uncertain how it will work out

v.11  I have seen something else under the sun:

The race is not to the swift
     or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
     or wealth to the brilliant
     or favour to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.


v.12 The ultimate is, of course, we never know when we might die

v.12  Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:

As fish are caught in a cruel net,
     or birds are taken in a snare,
so people are trapped by evil times
     that fall unexpectedly upon them.


v.13-15 An example of how wisdom overcame – but was forgotten

v.13  I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me:

v.14  there was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it.

v.15  Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man.


v.16-18 Nevertheless, the benefits of wisdom

v.16  So I said, ‘Wisdom is better than strength.' But the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.

v.17  The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
     than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
v.18  Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
     but one sinner destroys much good.


Continue to Ecclesiastes 10