Ecclesiastes 9:10-18

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.

Wisdom Better Than Folly

13 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me:
14 There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it.
15 Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man.
16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.
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.

Ecclesiastes 9:10-18 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO ECCLESIASTES 9

Though the wise man, with all his wisdom, search, and labour, could not find out the causes and reasons of divine Providence, in the branches and methods of it; yet some things he did find out, and observe, in making this inquiry, and which he declares; as that good and wise men, more especially their persons and their affairs, were in the hand of God, under his guidance, government, and direction; and that an interest in his love and hatred was not to be known by the outward estate of men, Ec 9:1; That the same events happen to good and bad men, who are variously described; that the hearts of wicked men are full of sin and madness as long as they live, and that they all must and do die, Ec 9:2,3; and then the state of such dead is described, as being without hope, knowledge, reward, or memory; and without love, hatred, or envy, or any portion in the things of this life, Ec 9:4-6. Wherefore good men are advised to live cheerfully, in a view of acceptance with God, both of persons and services; and eat and drink, and clothe well, according to their circumstances, and enjoy their friends and families; since nothing of this kind can be done in the grave, Ec 9:7-10. Then the wise man observes another vanity; that success in undertakings is not always to persons who bid fair, and might hope for it, but looks like the effect of chance, Ec 9:11; which want of success is often owing to their ignorance of the proper time of doing things, and to their want of foresight, thought, and care, to prevent evils; for which reason they are compared to fishes and birds, taken in a net or snare, Ec 9:12. And concludes with a commendation of wisdom, illustrated by an example of it, in a certain person that delivered a city by it, Ec 9:13-15; and though the man's wisdom was despised, yet it is preferable to strength, or weapons of war, or the noise of a foolish ruler, who destroys much good, Ec 9:16-18.

Ecclesiastes 9:10-18 In-Context

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.
13 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me:
14 There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it.
15 Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man.
16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.
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.

Cross References 14

  • 1. S 1 Samuel 10:7
  • 2. Ecclesiastes 11:6; Romans 12:11; Colossians 3:23
  • 3. Numbers 16:33; S Psalms 6:5; Isaiah 38:18
  • 4. S Ecclesiastes 2:24
  • 5. Amos 2:14-15
  • 6. Job 32:13; Isaiah 47:10; Jeremiah 9:23
  • 7. Ecclesiastes 2:14
  • 8. S Deuteronomy 8:18
  • 9. S Proverbs 29:6
  • 10. S Psalms 73:22; S Ecclesiastes 2:14; Ecclesiastes 8:7
  • 11. S 2 Samuel 20:22
  • 12. S Genesis 40:14; S Ecclesiastes 1:11; Ecclesiastes 2:16; Ecclesiastes 4:13
  • 13. Esther 6:3; Proverbs 21:22; Ecclesiastes 7:19
  • 14. S Ecclesiastes 2:13; ver 16
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