Lord, grant me the wisdom to number my days and use them wisely.
Read ECCLESIASTES 9:1–12
A Common Destiny for All
9 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 one knows whether love or hate awaits them. 2 All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad,[a] the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.
As it is with the good,
so with the sinful;
as it is with those who take oaths,
so with those who are afraid to take them.
3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, 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[b]—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
5 For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
and even their name is forgotten.
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.
7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved 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 realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
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.
12 Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:
As fish are caught in a cruel net,
or birds are taken in a snare,
so people are trapped by evil times
that fall unexpectedly upon them.
a Ecclesiastes 9:2 Septuagint (Aquila), Vulgate and Syriac; Hebrew does not have and the bad.
b Ecclesiastes 9:4 Or What then is to be chosen? With all who live, there is hope
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” The Teacher emphasizes that death is certain (2,3), while life is plagued by uncertainties (1b,11,12). He ﬁnds it distressing that death comes to everyone without exception, regardless of how religious or righteous they may be. He ﬁnds it disturbing that life “under the sun” fails to operate in a rational, reasonable manner.
On the threshold of the Promised Land, the Israelites were urged to “choose life” (Deut. 30:19b). In our chapter, sandwiched between sobering truths about the inevitability of death and the unpredictability of life, comes a call to live fully and joyfully (7–10). The Christian is not one who is doomed to walk around
grim-faced and gloomy; on the contrary, joy is the fruit of the Spirit and the Scriptures frequently exhort us: “Let us rejoice and be glad” (Psa. 118:24b). Amid all of life’s uncertainties, believers stand secure, for they are “in God’s hands” (1a).
The thrust of the Teacher’s message is Carpe diem: seize the day! The assurance that “God has already approved what you do” (7b) echoes the creation narrative, where God endorses all creation as “very good” (Gen. 1:31). God’s plentiful provision is for both utility and beauty, to be gratefully and joyfully embraced, with the attitude advocated by Paul: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Marriage and work, both creation ordinances, are also affirmed as blessings to be enjoyed. The Teacher views marriage as a loving and lifelong union. With regard to work, he urges us to be positive and passionate: “Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!” (10, The Message). Carpe diem!
Despite the ﬁnality of death and the frailty of life “under the sun,” we draw comfort from Jesus’ assurance: “No one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28b).
Lord, we thank You for giving us the pleasures in life that we are authorized to enjoy. Give us the insight not to abuse what You have bestowed upon us.