Ecclesiastes 9:1-9

Ecclesiastes 9:1

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.


Then Solomon declares to his readers that he declared the truth in this matter concerning the righteous and wise man that all their works are in the hands of God whether they be blessed by the Lord or they are to be rejected.  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  (1 Corinthians 3:12)  Sometimes the Christian may do works which amount to wood, hay or stubble which means they are of no value.  This is because man is so fickle that he sometimes does not have the discernment to know the difference between doing a work out of hatred or love.  This is why God must judge all the works appropriately to see which works are of value, especially eternal value.  For example, if a Christian involves themselves in missions, then it is eternal value but if they campaign to save the whales, it is of temporary value which would be considered wood, hay or stubble in light of eternity.


Ecclesiastes 9:2

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.


Then Solomon makes a general statement concerning the great equalizer which comes to all people.  He mentions the righteous first in that their righteousness can never prevent the day of their death.  The wicked will also die even though they will do what they can to prolong life.  Those who are good in this, that is, those who are altruistic and enjoy helping others cannot prevent the day of their death.  Then the clean and the unclean alike will eventually come to their day of death.  Then those who sacrificeth which could refer to the sacrifices required under the Mosaic law which is in keeping with the law of God and those who do not sacrifice which could be referring to the pagans who are of false religions.  These two groups also will come to the day of their death.  Then he contrasts the good man which in this case would be those who are saved versus the sinner who remains unconverted, both of them share the same physical fate as all the world.  Then those who swear an oath and fulfill that oath along with the one who fears to make any oath to the Lord or to anyone.  In other words, Solomon is stating that no matter how good or how evil a person is, they will come to their day of death.  What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.  (Psalm 89:48)


Ecclesiastes 9:3

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.


Then Solomon speaks about death being the great calamity which comes unto all people but here another evil he sees is that people seem to pledge all their life to this earth and to amass as much as this world can give them.  People will remain evil as they live by the folly which is in their heart and never take into consideration that their actions upon earth will affect their eternity.  The evil man never considers the fact that eventually they will die and there will be consequences for their actions which they will face that will have eternal consequences.


Ecclesiastes 9:4

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


Those who are alive can still have hope, not just in having a better life if they walk away from evil ways but there is still hope that a person can become saved and have eternal life.  The lion is considered the king of animals which may refer to a great man who has died and therefore his hopes have died with him.  When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.  (Proverbs 11:7)  A dog was considered an unclean animal but a live person who is unsaved has the hope that someday they might become saved but if one dies, their fate is sealed on this side of the grave and therefore the unsaved in death have no hope no matter who prays for them.


Ecclesiastes 9:5

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.


In this particular verse Solomon is stating that even though people do not wish to admit it, every living person on earth will experience death although some live their entire lives in compete denial of that fact.  The living are conscious of all that is around them in contrast to the person who is dead that knows nothing because they cannot increase in knowledge of worldly things.  Solomon is not advocating soul sleep or annihilation but is speaking about death to this physical world.  Those who are dead cannot experience any reward for doing good in this life or they cannot experience any good for their labor for the time for that has passed with their death.  Since the dead are dead, the memory of good things a person has also passed from them making them a forgotten memory.  This also speaks about the fact that the dead, after a while, are forgotten especially those who were wicked in their lives.


Ecclesiastes 9:6

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.


Here is the reality of the physical dead.  They have no more emotional ties to this life written as love or hatred which covers the whole emotional spectrum.  If they had any envy or jealousies in this life, then all those evil feelings are existent no more and they can have nothing to do with anything more that is done under the sun.  The dead are sequestered from this life by means of them being buried and the only thing they can do now is to decompose.  Life now goes on even without them.  Sometimes that is a hard pill to swallow knowing that someday we will all be physically dead and then after we die, life goes on as if nothing happened and our friends and relatives go back to their normal lives while occasionally they think about us or mention us but eventually that will wane.


Ecclesiastes 9:7

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


Now Solomon commends the person who does all things in proper proportion.  Here he tells the people to eat thy bread with joy which means to eat what the Lord has provided for you and to be happy with the food which he has bountifully blessed and given to you.  Then he tells them to drink wine with a merry heart.  He is not advocating drunkenness nor having a booze and feast orgy or a Super Bowl party.  Wine was a staple drink along with bread being a staple food in the Middle East and both were drunk at a normal meal.  Keep in mind the water purification was not good at that time in history and that is why they drank wine with the meals.  Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.  (Proverbs 23:31)  In Proverbs 23:31, Solomon is warning those who get drunk with wine instead of using it as a part of the meal.  The wine back then was not like the wine is today.  Distillation started in the 11th century when alcohol was added to drinks.  The last part of our verse is that God accepts their works.  This is not works for salvation because that can never be according to the rest of the Scriptures.  The work he is accepting is the fact that people are enjoying the things which God gave to the people of this world in both food and recreation and allowing success to happen in our daily work.  To enjoy the good things which God has given us pleases him.  To enjoy the oceans, the parks, the skies, the mountains, the scenery and all the natural things God gave us which helps us see the beauty of the creation which God gave us thus helping us to stay healthy and appreciative of all he has given us.


Ecclesiastes 9:8

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


In the Middle east, especially in the very warm countries, white clothing is generally and frequently worn than colored clothing.  One of the reasons for this is white clothing tends to reflect the sun instead of colored clothing which absorbs the sun and thus making it warmer to wear.  The wearing of white also carries with it the meaning of perpetual purity which would have been readily appreciated by the Oriental mind.  When

Jesus was transfigured his clothing became white as the light.  And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.  (Matthew 17:2)  The redeemed of the Lord are going to be clothed in white.  And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.  (Revelation 19:14)  In the Middle East white clothing was worn as a sign of joyful times.  The ointment speaks of a custom in the Middle East where guests are anointed with oil when visiting for a feast.  The Lord himself anoints the head of the true believer with oil showing they are part of his family.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  (Psalm 23:5)  The Bible also symbolizes the Holy Spirit with oil.  The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;  (Isaiah 61:1)  In other words, may the person always have the blessing of God upon their life especially in the life of a true believer.  It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;  (Psalm 133:2)


Ecclesiastes 9:9

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.


Then Solomon turns to the subject of marriage and with 700 wives, he should know something about marriage.  He tells the husband that he is to live joyfully with the wife he married and love her all the days of the life of this vanity, that is, all the days upon this earth.  A good marriage is a great blessing from the Lord and makes the life of this vanity a little easier when there is two who can travel together.  Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.  (Proverbs 5:18)  Notice our verse states “all the days” that is for life and she is not to be divorced for any spurious accusation.  The fact that Solomon repeats the term “all the days of thy vanity” showing that life is vain or empty.  It is empty when one goes through it alone but at least with a wife, there is companionship and help when needed.  Then he once again speaks of a man’s labor which he will have as his portion in this life.  All that is labored for will eventually be left to someone else and that is something he must realize so therefore he is to enjoy the fruits of his labor as a gift from God.