A Common Destiny for All

Eccle 9:1 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 man knows whether love or hate awaits him. 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 man,
so with the sinner;
as it is with those who take oaths,
so with those who are afraid to take them.

All share a common destiny – ‘Outward things happen alike to good and bad. “There is one event to the clean and to the unclean.” They are both travellers in the thoroughfare of this world, both lodge in one inn, both have the same provision; perhaps the wicked have the better cheer-but in the morning their ways part!’ (Thomas Adams)

‘Those events that are beyond the individual’s own control so often appear to happen in a haphazard way. The tower at Siloam falls on the good as well as on the bad. And then, looming ahead, is the one event for all mankind, the one event of Death. And Death closes all.  “A living cur is better than a dead lion.” ” The living know that they shall die “, and can make their plans accordingly. There is a sense in which it is never too late in this life to take up your part in God’s plan. But the dead have run their course. They are waiting in Sheol for the judgment. They do not, like the living, know what is happening on the earth. They have no further opportunities of earning the Master’s reward. Their bodies, the vehicles of the emotions of love and hatred and envy, have gone to dust, and no more can they share in
life under the sun.’ (J. Stafford Wright)

Eccle 9:3 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. 4 Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!

Eccle 9:5 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.
Eccle 9:6 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.

Eccle 9:7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 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 labor under the sun. 10 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.

‘Take up the common things of life, and find your joy in the service of God there. Life is but vanity, but it is a vanity that may be turned to profit if only one grasps the opportunity while it is present.’ (Stafford Wright)

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might – The message of Ecclesiastes is not one of passive resignation, meeting God’s mysterious plan with an attitude of fatalism.  ‘The fact that he introduces the idea of moral responsibility, with his warning of the Judgment, shows that we are to live our life as free beings. Moreover the incidental pieces of proverbial wisdom are intended to be a guide for the practical side of life.’ (Stafford Wright)

‘If that last verse [v10b] sounds sub-Christian, we may remind ourselves that Christ Himself said, ” I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work” Jn 9:4).’ (Stafford Wright)

Eccle 9:11 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 favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

Eccle 9:12 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.

Wisdom Better Than Folly

Eccle 9:13 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: 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 siegeworks against it. 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. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.

Eccle 9:17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
Eccle 9:18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one sinner destroys much good.