Ecclesiastes 9

More Solomon the cynic. First he says this:

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.

Enjoy it if you can, but it still doesn’t mean anything because you’ll end up dead like everyone else. He looks out on life and injustice everywhere, which if you think about it for a minute just isn’t true. He says:

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.

Surely time and chance happen to everyone, but more often than not the swift win the race, the strong win the battle, the wise and brilliant are better at making money, and the learned very often get favor for it. I would chalk this up to hyperbole. But it is true that these things are not always the case, that sometimes the exact opposite happens from what we think ought to happen based on what we’ve tried to do. And there is no doubt that many people feel that life is just “time and chance.” From all appearances it can often seem that way.

And yet he ends the chapter with, “wisdom is better than folly.” Why, if all is “time and chance”? Well, speaking pragmatically:

17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
    than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
    but one sinner destroys much good.

So even if it is all meaningless, and even if injustice abounds, it makes sense to live wisely rather than foolishly because practically it is just better.


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