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Life’s opportunities (9:1-12)
A person may believe that life is under the control of God, but still not know whether the experiences one meets in life are a sign of God’s pleasure or a sign of his anger. The same fate, death, comes to all (9:1-3). Good people have no advantage over the bad. The only advantage is that of the living over the dead. The living can still do things, but the dead are useless and forgotten (4-6).
Therefore, people should enjoy life to the full while they have the opportunity, as there will be no further opportunity when they are dead. Festive occasions, marital relations and daily work are all part of the order that God has instituted for human society, and he wants people to enjoy them (7-10). Much in life seems to depend on chance. Those who deserve success may miss out because of some misfortune; those who do not deserve defeat may be overtaken by calamity (11-12).
Thoughts on wisdom and folly (9:13-10:20)
A simple story illustrates how a person may be wise and humble, but the good he does is not appreciated by those who benefit from it. Riches, status and a show of power are the things people admire. If a person lacks these, he is ignored or despised, even though his quiet words of wisdom may save a city from destruction (13-18).
One foolish act can spoil a lot of good. Stupidity leads to wrongdoing and marks a person out as a fool in the eyes of everyone (10:1-3). But when a ruler acts like a fool, the wise person will be patient and not panic. Unfortunately, fools often get into places of authority, but more capable people are not given a chance (4-7). In most activities there is some danger, so people should be careful and plan ahead; otherwise, instead of enjoying success they may meet disaster (8-11).
Fools talk without thinking of the consequences of their words and so get themselves into trouble. They waste their time with much talk about the future, even though no one can know the future. They waste their energy in useless work. They have no idea where they are going (12-15).
Immature rulers, who think only of their own comforts and ignore the needs of the people, bring hardship and discontent to the country they rule (16-17). Laziness leads to decay. If people want to enjoy the good things of life, they must work so that they can earn the money to buy them (18-19). The wise will learn how to control their thoughts and, consequently, their words and actions. In this way they will keep out of trouble (20).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 9". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany