Ecclesiastes 9 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Ecclesiastes 9)

Verse 1

[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.

Their works — All events which befal them are governed by his providence, and therefore although we cannot fully understand the reasons of all, yet we may be assured they are done righteously.

No man — No man can judge by their present outward condition, whether God loves or hates them; for whom he loves he chastens, and permits those whom he hates to prosper in the world.

Verse 2

[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.

All things — The good and evil things of the world equally happen to good and bad men.

Verse 3

[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.

An evil — A great trouble to a good man.

Is full — Of wickedness.

Madness — They go on madly and desperately in evil courses.

They go — After all, they die in the same manner as the best men do.

Verse 4

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

Joined — That continues with living men.

Hope — He hath not only some comfort for the present, but also hopes of further happiness in this world.

Better — Much happier as to the comforts of this world.

Verse 5

[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.

Die — Whereby they are taught to improve life.

Any thing — Of the actions and events of this world.

Reward — The fruit of their labours in this world, are utterly lost as to them.

Forgotten — Even in those places where they had lived in great power and glory.

Verse 6

[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.

Also — They neither love, nor hate, nor envy any thing in this world, but are unconcerned in what is done under the sun.

Verse 7

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

Go — Make this use of what I have said.

Eat — Chearfully and thankfully enjoy thy comforts.

Accepteth — Allows thee a comfortable enjoyment of his blessings.

Verse 8

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

White — The eastern people of the best sort, used white garments, especially in times of rejoicing.

Ointment — Which upon joyful occasions was poured upon mens heads.

Verse 9

[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.

Vanity — Of this vain and frail life.

Verse 10

[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.

Whatsoever — Whatever thou hast opportunity and ability to do, do it with unwearied diligence, and vigour and expedition.

For — Thou canst neither design nor act any thing there tending to thy own comfort or advantage.

Verse 11

[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.

But time — There are times or seasons, casual to men, but known by God, in which alone he will give men success.

Verse 12

[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.

His time — The time of his death, or other distress which God is bringing upon him.

Are taken — While they are sporting and feeding themselves.

When — When they are most careless and secure.

Verse 13

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

This wisdom — I have observed this among many other instances of wisdom. Which he adds for the commendation of wisdom, notwithstanding its insufficiency for man's happiness without God's blessing.

Verse 15

[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.

Yet — He was soon neglected and his great service forgotten.

Verse 17

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

Of wise men — Though poor.

In quiet — Uttered with a modest and low voice.

The cry — The clamorous discourses of a rich and potent, but foolish man.