Ecclesiastes 9 Commentary
All share a common destiny: the righteous and the wicked. Does it really matter what one does? Death is once again thought of as an equalizer. The wicked man is upgraded while the righteous man is downgraded. They all share the same destiny: death.
Death itself is a terrible phenomenon. We should hate it. It makes righteousness nothing; wickedness escapes into forgetfulness and erasure. Yet these thoughts here don’t make anyone comfortable. The LORD has put eternity into the hearts of men. Of course, they don’t exactly understand it. No one really believes death is the end of it all.
Who will sit down and make it big hoping that is all there is to life? Eat and drink; clothe yourself richly, possessions; enjoy your wife and pleasure; push your career upwards; does it not all look empty still?
The terrible fact of death for everyone aside, the randomness of events is yet another maddening fact. Proverbs did teach us that Wisdom is a sure passport to a good life. But here, everything is random, favor or misfortune popping up everywhere, regardless. Who will argue with this observation?
The Book of Job goes for straight equations. Evil times fall expectedly upon the wicked man. Good times fall expectedly upon the righteous man. Of course, Job’s life contradicts this thought. Here, everything is random.
The prophet-cum-teacher has observed something else. It is the story of a poor but wise man. He saves the city against an over-powering invasion with his wisdom. And the author underlines the fact that Wisdom is better than strength. The word is Wisdom in the NIV and KJV versions.
Interestingly, wisdom or Wisdom, importantly Wisdom should make someone rich. But the city’s savior is poor. The Wisdom that enables him to save the city hasn’t helped him overcome his own poverty. Think about it. Moreover, the poor man’s wisdom is despised. Interesting, indeed.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war, as clearly seen in the story of the poor but wise man. But wickedness is destructive.
The author switches between riddles and straight teaching in an interesting but deeply effective way. The brilliance is even more when the riddle is also a straight teaching. Verse 11 is all pessimism as it all means nothing whether you run fast or crawl. Imagine a game of football being decided neither by skill nor hard work; strategy nor discipline. At the same time, who wouldn’t love it that the LORD avails the chance to compete with the very best in the race of life?
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