Summary: In today's lesson we are urged, in view of the certainty of death and the unpredictability of life, to enjoy life to the fullest.
In his quest to find out how to live a meaningful life the writer of Ecclesiastes urges his readers, in view of the certainty of death and the unpredictability of life, to enjoy life to the fullest.
Let us read Ecclesiastes 9:1-12:
1 But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. 2 It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. 3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 4 But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.
7 Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.
8 Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.
9 Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. 12 For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them. (Ecclesiastes 9:1-12)
Many people go through life with little joy.
People are anxious about the economy. More than 1 in 10 Floridians are without work. A number of people in our own congregation have been laid off and are looking for gainful employment. And, if one listens to some commentators, it is likely to get worse before it gets better.
People are anxious about their health. They wonder if their cancer will return. Or, if the cancer they already have, will go into remission. Others worry about Alzheimer’s Disease. Or diabetes. Or losing their eyesight. And to make matters worse, health care costs are going up—and not down, as promised.
People are also anxious about their children. Some parents, frankly, are ill equipped to be parents, and so it is not surprising that their children are going astray. But, then there are parents who doing all the right things in terms of raising their children, and, still, there seems to be one who is simply bent on going his own way.
Anxiety eats away at the joy life can give. Anxiety kills joyful living! That is as true today as the day on which the Preacher wrote it when he wrote the book we call Ecclesiastes.
In our text for today, the Preacher urges his readers, in view of the certainty of death and the unpredictability of life, to enjoy life to the fullest.
And so in today’s lesson we are urged, in view of the certainty of death and the unpredictability of life, to enjoy life to the fullest.
I. The Certainty of Death (9:1-6)
The Preacher begins with an observation about the certainty of death.
In the previous two chapters (i.e., chapters 7 and 8) the Preacher noted that bad things happen to some good people and good things happen to some bad people. Now, as he begins chapter 9 the Preacher continues in verse 1a, “But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God.”