Men Are in the Hand of God
Verse 1 Are God’s People Different from Other People
There are those in this world that are loved in a special manner by God. These are the righteous and wise. They are righteous because God has forgiven their sin and they are wise because they respect God. (Job 28:28) These people of God are not better or cleverer than anyone else but they are special because they have chosen to obey God. They have invited God to rule their lives and accepted the invitation to learn God’s wisdom.
Their lives seem to be as the other lives in this world, as they have their portion of good and bad events as others do. They too deal with success, trouble. Illness, accidents, and death as everyone else. By this similarity you will not be able to tell that they belong to God’s special people.
They are in the hands of God and receive His protection and His special care. Through all of their trials and tribulations God is looking out for them so they really are different from other people. They do not live by luck or chance but under the rule of God in their lives.
Success does not come into a person’s life as a result of God’s love. Troubles in life do not show that God hates that person. God desires to show His kindness to every person. (John 3:16) God allows troubles into the life of His own but looks after them in a special manner.
Verse 2 Can Religion save People from Their Troubles
No religion will save people form the troubles of this world. All people must suffer the curse that came upon the world because of sin. Some believe that religion will save them and they give gifts to God to persuade His mercy. Gifts are expensive and some will promise a gift if God answers their prayer as they desire.
Offering God a bribe is the same as offering a bribe to a judge for favor. It is a sinful action and an improper use of religion. The reason people give gifts to God is for His honor and to promote the work of His Kingdom.
There are people in the world who have become ill and cannot attend a worship service in God’s house. But this does not hinder their desire to practice their religious beliefs. They still can pray to God. They still can have a relationship with God. All people are alike and all people can practice their religious beliefs.
Verses 3-4 Does Hope, or Chance, Rule This World
Some see the events of their life as a matter of chance. There are people that believe that all that happens is a matter of chance. In the Scripture it is taught that something much worse than chance has great power in this present world. It is the evil forces in the heavenly places that ruin people’s lives. (Ephesians 6:12) These evil desires fill the hearts of men and that is why people do not act in a sensible way. The evil forces that are above this world are real and they are very powerful and their purpose is to lead men away from God.
People live in the hope that good things will happen to them. Hope is an important part of our lives. People have a sin nature and this nature causes people to hope for wrong things even as hope itself is a good thing.
The best hope that people can have is that they will go to Heaven. This is just a possibility unless that person knows God personally. Hope can seem to be a matter of chance but true hope is a relationship with God. People nurture that relationship by prayer and study of the Bible. When people learn to confess their evil deeds and repent, invite God into their lives, then their hope becomes a certain truth. (Hebrews 6:19)
Lions, known as the king of beast, are impressive animals. Wild dogs are cruel and nasty. But a dog can be taught to be loyal to its master and obey instructions. So there is hope even for a wild dog. Someone can change the nature of the wild dog but nothing can be done for the dead lion.
People have evil hearts because of their sin nature from the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. The heart of a man can fill his mind with evil desires. (Romans 3:10-18) But the hope of mankind is that God can change the hearts of men. (2 Corinthians 5:17) People must trust God in their life and He will do that for them during their life. After life here is over it is too late. (Luke 16:19-31) The time for a man’s salvation is now. (2 Corinthians 6:2)
Verses 5-6 What Happens to Wicked People After Death
Life is full of opportunities and many people grab hold of them. One Opportunity that people fail to grab is the opportunity that God offers. People spend their lives satisfying their own evil desires or spend their lives to gain profits that only benefit in this world. They spend little of the short time in this world to prepare themselves for the time of their death and the judgment of God.
When people die the body returns to the dust and the spirit returns to God from where it came. (Genesis 2:7) There in the presence of God that life will be judged. (Ecclesiastes 12:7) For the one who trust God completely that is a wonderful promise. (Philippians 1:23)
When the evil deeds of a person is forgiven by God the right relationship is restored between that person and God. At death that person does face judgment at the judgment seat of Christ but their sins are covered by the blood of Jesus and God saves them from the troubles of the world. The person is given entry into the Kingdom of God, Heaven, where never again they will know pain, sorrow, or death. (Revelation 21:1-4) When that time comes their knowledge will be complete in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 3:12)
There is a difference for the wicked people. Solomon reduces the knowledge to the most important in life that all people must die. That fact and that alone is the most important for a wicked person. Wicked people have no knowledge of God. (Psalm 53:1) They have no knowledge of His wisdom. (Proverbs 2:6) They only know that they must die, and after that they will not even know that.
They will know that God is their judge and they will know they will receive punishment. It is their knowledge of this world that will end in their death. (Ecclesiastes 9:6) In the lake of fire there will be no friends as their opportunity to show love has ended with death. There will be no governing relationship in the lake of fire and there will not be opportunity to show hate. Their evil desires have also ended in their death. All the emotions that seemed so powerful in this world will now have ended in death.
When people hear this and realize its truth they should have a strong desire to avoid hell. We cannot save ourselves from this but God wants to save us. That is why He sent His Son Jesus to suffer death instead of us. (John 3:16) This is why God urges us to confess and repent of our sins and invite Jesus into their lives.
Verses 7-10 How People Waste Their Opportunity to Know God
The Bible warns us in severe manners but we look for statements that seem more pleasant. By avoiding the unpleasant we can miss the meaning of the passage. In Ecclesiastes 9:3:6 Solomon wrote of the effects of death. Solomon explained his own beliefs on the subject. Now in these verses he speaks to one particular person.
That man had not received Solomon’s advice about parties, he did not want to be serious and think about his death. He did not see himself as evil and that God should approve His works. Solomon seems to be angry in his reply to this man. He tells the man to go away and not forget that God has only given him a short time here on earth. He tells the man that while he is here he benefits from God’s kindness.
If the man wants, he can use this time given to enjoy himself. It is only for a little while so he must use every minute to make himself happy. The period of God’s kindness will come to an end at his death. It is then that God will judge how he used his time here on earth. (Ecclesiastes 11:9)
This man thinks that he can save himself by his works, so he will work very hard. But there will be no more works when he is dead and that day will some quickly. The point of Solomon is that the man is wasting his time to know God. The man wants to eat and drink, to love his wife, and to enjoy his work. Solomon has already tried all these things (Ecclesiastes 2:4-10) but they achieved nothing that was worthwhile. (Ecclesiastes 2:11) The efforts of the man will not save him from death or hell.
Verse 11 Time and Chance
The race goes to the fastest runner and it is he that certainly deserves to win. But if he stumbles and falls someone else will take the prize. In history we have seen that the strongest army does not always win the battle. The lack of food or water can ruin a powerful army. Armies have lost wars because their captains gave foolish orders. The clever are not always wealthy and the wise do not get enough food. Intelligent people sometimes do not receive the honor. And nations can remain poor because their rulers make foolish decisions.
We believe that strength and intelligence give the advantage over other people but there is no certainty to it. There are two factors that we sometimes fail to explore in this world and they are important for success. That is time and chance.
There seems to be a proper time for everything. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) The best of a person’s efforts can fail because he acted at the wrong time. Even if he acts at the right time success can still be a matter of chance. Events as accidents and opportunities happen and nobody can control them. (Ecclesiastes 9:1-3)
There are no certainties in this world that we can depend on because nothing is certain. That is why the Bible tells us to trust God. God knows the proper time for everything and He will not disappoint us. God’s people can trust in Him completely. (Psalm 62:1-2; Psalm 46)
Verse 12 The Right Reaction to Trouble
Trouble comes quickly. If we were ready for trouble, then we would try to avoid it. But often times there is nothing that we could have done to avoid trouble. It is then we feel as a fish in a net or a bird in a snare. We find ourselves in a desperate situation but we cannot escape.
We often complain that we did not deserve the troubles that have come upon us and usually that is true. Trouble often comes not at the result of bad behavior, even as success is not always from good behavior. This things seem to happen by chance and it never seems to be in a fair way.
The most notable example of this is in the book of Job. Job was a man rich who suddenly lost all his wealth and family. Shortly after Job lost his health. Job did not deserve his troubles as he was a righteous man who served God. (Job 31) Even Job’s friends thought that he must have sinned greatly to deserve all the troubles that he had. (Job 22:4-45) The troubles of Job did not happen by chance. Job’s troubles can as a result of an evil plan of Satan. (Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-7) God allowed this trial because Job’s loyal reaction would bring honor to God.
Troubles will come into our life and for various reasons that we do not even know. The best reaction is for us is to trust God. It is God’s desire to forgive us when we confess our wrong deeds to Him. (Exodus 34:7) It is God’s desire to save us when we humbly ask for His help. (Jonah 2:9; Jonah 4:10-11) This is the experience that David had as he tells us in Psalm. (Psalm 124:7-8)
Verses 13-15 How One Man’s Wisdom Saved His City
Solomon now tells an impressive story. A king had a strong army and surrounded the city. The cities inhabitants were too few for the defense of the city. The soldiers of the invading army had built up piles of earth to get past the cities defenses. The result of the battle seemed certain and all were waiting for the king to give the final order to attack and kill the cities inhabitants.
Solomon has already told us that strong armies do not always win the battles. It can seem that the events of life happen by chance. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) The city was saved and it was not by chance but by the wisdom of one poor man who none had respected. Solomon does not tell us what this man had done but there is a similar incident in 2 Samuel 20:14-22) There a wise woman saved the city.
The point of Solomon’s telling is that wisdom is far better that strength. (Ecclesiastes 9:16) People in general do not respect wisdom. This is sad as wisdom is more valuable than any other quality. (Proverbs 3:13-18) This is because true wisdom comes from God. (Proverbs 2:6)
Wisdom may not give wealth and honor. But in this world there are things that are more important that wealth and honor. It was wisdom that saved the city and its inhabitants. There was another battle that seemed certain as well. The evil forces that are strong and control the whole world and has made the world a prisoner. (Galatians 3:22) Wisdom is more powerful than strength and the wisdom of God is more powerful that the evil forces that come against our life.
The people laughed at the death of Christ. (Mark 15:29-32) The people viewed the death of Jesus as weakness. It wasn’t weakness but God’s wisdom. (1 Corinthians 1:22-25)
Even as the wisdom of the man in Solomon’s story saved the city the wisdom of Christ saved His people. (1 Corinthians 1:18) The wisdom of Christ is powerful enough to save His people from Satan. (Hebrews 2:14) His wisdom also saves His people from the evil forces that control this world. (Hebrews 2:15) The people in the city did not remember the wise man who had saved them and many in this world do not recognize the wisdom of Christ which could save them. (1 Corinthians 2:7-8; John 1:10) The wise still seek Him and can receive Him into their life. We can believe and trust Him. (John 1:12) If we do these things He will save us. (John 3:16-17)
Verse 16 Why People Will Not Listen to Wise Advice
The wise man who saved his city in verses 13-15 deserved great reward but had received none. He did not become famous or gain wealth, he remained poor and was forgotten. The people would not listen to his wisdom and he was despised.
Wisdom is a quality that people have just like strength and wealth. But people will respect a strong man and fear him. People do not care much for the wealthy man but do desire his wealth. Wisdom seldom impresses people and many will laugh at him rather than praise him.
Good advice is rarely popular among people as they are attracted to their wicked ways and they do not care to hear the wisdom of the righteous. The wise man will say that the evil deeds of the people offend God. (Romans 3:10-18) The wise will point out all the wrong that people have done against God. (7:20) The wise should tell people that God will judge them for their deeds here on the earth. (3:17; 12:14) The wise will tell them that they are unable to save themselves and only God can. (Romans 6:23) All this is true but it is not popular.
Wisdom causes people to be uncomfortable. If all people were wise then they would not need the wisdom of the wise. The wise will give advice to those who lack wisdom and of course they will disagree with his advice. People must become desperate in their life to desire proper wisdom. This is the example in Ecclesiastes 9:13-15. Before the city was in danger nobody cared for the wisdom of the wise man. Then afterwards nobody remembered him. But in the time of danger the people followed his advice and therefor by his wisdom the city was saved.
Christians experience this today. They speak God’s message declaring his wisdom but few are willing to follow his teaching. (Matthew 7:13-14) Most people will not trust God until everything else in their life has failed them.
Verses 17-18 Quiet Words of Wisdom
Whereas on wise man can save a city one foolish man can destroy a city.
A foolish ruler will shout to get the attention of his people. The ruler is trying to convince his friends and frighten his enemies. The ruler will speak with boldness so his soldiers will be bold. He will act wildly in desperation to control their sense of fear.
The wise do not need to speak loudly when he gives his advice. He will speak in a sensible manner because he wants his people to be sensible. He is seeking to appeal to their intelligence and not their emotions. His efforts are not for control but to teach them the truth. The truth will save a person, (John 8:32) the shouts of the foolish cannot save anyone.
This is why wisdom is the better instrument than a soldiers weapons. Wisdom is a better forces than strength. (9:16) And a poor man who is wise can save a city from a large army. (9:13-15)
The sinners do wrong and evil things and the Bible considers them to be fools. Only Fools do not follow God’s wisdom. In their evil deeds they oppose the good that God does. They not only cause trouble for themselves but for other people too.
All are sinners but have the opportunity to discover the wisdom of God. Wisdom cannot be found in our own thoughts because wisdom comes only from God. (Proverbs 2:6) With reverent fear of God He can teach us to be wise. (Proverbs 9:10)