In our study of Ecclesiastes chapter nine, we look at an earthly life lived without hope for eternity. They say that the most dangerous man is one that has no hope and we will see how that is true.
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 man knows whether love or hate awaits him.
Solomon refers to chapter eight and the fact that he found out that wisdom has its limits when it comes to men. His conclusion is that, apart from God, no man knows what awaits him when he dies.
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 man, so with the sinner; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them. This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.
There are many who believe that this world (the "here and now") is all that there is and that we all just die and decay away. This describes a life without consequences for our actions and so can lead to all kinds of evil things in this world. This is a lie from Satan and his desire is for people to believe this and be condemned to the judgment of Hell.
Anyone who is among the living has hope - even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. 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.
Those who believe that this earthly existence is all there is will hold onto it at all costs. The "hope" that Solomon speaks of here is the false hope that the devil peddles and not the hope that we have in Christ. We must remember that Solomon is describing life for those who are apart from God.
Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 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 labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
This passage speaks of the rich and the fact that they can enjoy the things of this life but, at the end of their days, they still go to the grave. If you believe that this world is all that there is, then, you will work at it to get the most out of it. There are those who spend their entire life trying to get more so that they can stay ahead of others and be considered "successful".
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 favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.
Next, Solomon tells us of those who put their hope in luck or chance. In our world today it seems like everywhere you look there is a lottery or gambling and people with the "hope" of striking it rich. Many times they do win but it is only temporary as they tend to spend it foolishly and it goes quickly.
Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.
When you start thinking that life is just like a giant game of chance, then, you get to the point of living like today is your last day. That may sound good and it actually could be if you served Christ like He was coming back today. But, that is not what Solomon is speaking about. He is talking about people without Christ living it up like there is no tomorrow and no eternity to answer for our actions.
I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: 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 siegeworks against it. 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. So I said, 'Wisdom is better than strength.' But the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.
Solomon tells a parable that compares wisdom and strength. In this we see a picture of the remnant of God's people and the role of a prophet. Many times the prophet was ignored or down-right despised as he shared a message from God. Most of the time, God used poor men to deliver the message that had the power to save the people.
The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.
Have you ever noticed that fools are usually the loudest and proudest of speakers? They will speak as though volume and quantity of words make up for their lack of wisdom. A wise man or woman will build up others while a fool/sinner will destroy.