Verse 1 – For I considered all this in my heart, so that I could declare it all: That the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God. People know neither love nor hatred by anything that is before them.
Verse 2 – Everything occurs alike to all: One event happens to the righteous and the wicked; to the good, the clean, and the unclean; to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; and he who takes an oath as he who fears an oath.
While all things, good or bad, happen to both the righteous and the sinner, God makes a difference in the believer’s life. Many, including me, have witnessed God’s divine intervention.
Verse 3 – This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: That one thing happens to all. Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
Verse 4 – But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
Verse 5 – For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.
Solomon is describing what he sees, not what he believes. There is no reference of the soul after death, which is a matter of faith. He’s simply saying, the dead have no more gratification after their death.
Verse 6 – Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun.
Verse 7 – Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works.
Verse 8 – Let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil.
The Jews wore white garments on festival occasions. The oil is a sign of anointing and blessing.
Verse 9 – Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun.
Verse 10 – Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.
Life after death was only a vague concept in the Old Testament. It was only made clear after Jesus rose from the dead.
Verse 11 – I returned and saw under the sun that – The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.
Verse 12 – For man also does not know his time; like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.
The moment of death is not ours to control. Solomon does not deny the sovereignty of God over human affairs, he’s simply stating life is not always fair.
Verse 13 – The wisdom I have also seen under the sun, and it seemed great to me:
Verse 14 – There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it.
Verse 15 – Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man.
Verse 16 – Then I said, “Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.
Verse 17 – Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard rather than the shout of a ruler of fools.
Verse 18 – Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.”
The society we live in honors wealth, attractiveness, and success above wisdom. Wisdom from one is not often recognized. Power in the hand of the ignorant will destroy the good that wisdom provides through God. But we know who is greater!