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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Ecclesiastes 9

Verses 1-18

Live Worthily While You May

1-3. The future is in God’s hands. Good and bad alike must die.

1. Considered in] RV ’laid to.’ Declare] RV ’explore.’ No man.. before them] RV ’whether it be love or hatred, man knoweth it not; all is before them.’ Whether God’s dealings with them shall be such as to suggest His favour or displeasure is unknown, because the part of life not yet traversed cannot be penetrated.

2. There seems no discrimination in the lot of men.

4. A living dog] Life has at any rate one advantage over death. The miserable hope that either positive happiness, or at least better fortune than in the past, may lie before them. The saying receives its point from the contempt with which a dog is regarded in the East.

5. The living know] A conscious recognition of the inevitable is better than the oblivion which belongs to death.

7-10. Couple enjoyment and work.

8. White] as symbolical of cheerfulness (2 Chronicles 5:12), and perhaps here, as later (e.g. Revelation 3:4.), of purity. White was constantly worn at feasts. Ointment] Sweet fragrant unguents for perfuming the person.

10. Be not half-hearted in any duty. The present alone is yours: cp. ’in diligence not slothful’ (Romans 12:11 RV). In St. Paul’s day the darkness had been lighted up, and this precept consequently transformed in the words which close the great Resurrection chapter (1 Corinthians 15:58).

11-18. Results must be left to God. Wisdom is better than strength, yet it is despised.

17. Are heard in quiet] RV’spoken in quiet are heard.’ There are times when men’s voices are hushed to listen to wise counsel.

18. One sinner, etc.] One man’s evil deed may bring to nought wide-reaching purposes of good.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 9". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.