1 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.

2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.

3 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.

8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.

9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

13 This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me:

14 There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:

15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.

16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.

17 The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.

18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Ecclesiastes
Book: Ecclesiastes
Chapter: 9

Good and bad men fare alike as to this world. (1-3) All men
must die, Their portion as to this Life. (4-10) Disappointments
common. (11,12) Benefits of Wisdom. (13-18)

1-3 We are not to think our searching into the Word or Works of
God useless, because we cannot explain all difficulties. We may
learn many things good for ourselves and useful to others. But
Man cannot always decide who are objects of God's special Love,
or under his wrath; and God will certainly Put a difference
between the precious and the vile, in the other world. The
difference as to present happiness, arises from the inward
supports and consolations the righteous enjoy, and the benefit
they derive from varied trials and mercies. As far as the sons
of men are left to themselves, their hearts are full of evil;
and prosperity in Sin, causes them even to set God at defiance
By daring wickedness. Though, On this side Death, the righteous
and the wicked may often seem to fare alike, On the other side
there will be a vast difference between them.

4-10 The most despicable living Man's state, is preferable to
that of the most noble who have died impenitent. Solomon exhorts
the Wise and pious to cheerful confidence in God, whatever their
condition in Life. The meanest morsel, coming from their
Father's Love, in answer to Prayer, will have a Peculiar relish.
Not that we may set our hearts upon the delights of sense, but
what God has given us we may use with Wisdom. The joy here
described, is the gladness of Heart that springs from a sense of
the Divine favour. This is the world of service, that to come is
the world of recompence. All in their stations, may find some
work to do. And above all, sinners have the Salvation of their
souls to seek after, believers have to prove their Faith, adorn
the Gospel, Glorify God, and serve their Generation.

11,12 Men's success seldom equals their expectations. We must
use means, but not trust to them: if we succeed, we must give
God the praise; if crossed, we must submit to his will. Those
who Put off the great concerns of their souls, are caught in
Satan's Net, which he baits with some worldly object, for which
they reject or neglect the Gospel, and go On in Sin till they
suddenly fall into Destruction.

13-18 A Man may, By his Wisdom, bring to pass that which he
could never do By his strength. If God be for us, who can be
against us, or stand before us? Solomon observes the power of
Wisdom, though it may labour under outward disadvantages. How
forcible are right words! But Wise and good men must often
content themselves with the satisfaction of having done good,
or, at least, endeavoured to do it, when they cannot do the good
they would, nor have the praise they should. How many of the
good Gifts, both of nature and Providence, does one sinner
destroy and make waste! He who destroys his own soul destroys
much good. One sinner may draw many into his destroying ways.
See who are the friends and enemies of a kingdom or a family, if
one Saint does much good, and one sinner destroys much good.

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