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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ecclesiastes 9:1

For I have taken all this to my heart and explain it that righteous men, wise men, and their deeds are in the hand of God. Man does not know whether it will be love or hatred; anything awaits him.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Holman Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Chance;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Providence;  
Every Day Light - Devotion for August 24;  

Adam Clarke Commentary


No men knows, by any present sign, what is before him, 1.

All things happen alike to all, 2, 3.

Comparison of the state of the dead and the living, 4-6.

Enjoy God's mercies, and live to his glory, 7-10.

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, 11.

Man is ignorant of futurity, 12, 13.

The account of the little city, and the poor wise man, 14-18.


Verse Ecclesiastes 9:1. The righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God — This is a continuation of the preceding subject; and here the wise man draws a conclusion from what he had seen, and from the well-known character of God, that the righteous, the wise, and their conduct, were all in the hand of God, protected by his power, and safe in his approbation: but we cannot judge from the occurrences which take place in life who are the objects of God's love or displeasure.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 9:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

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).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 9:1". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

This chapter actually concludes the part of Ecclesiastes which is the most difficult to understand and interpret. Up to this point Solomon has written a lot of things which, to a Christian, do not make any sense at all. What is the explanation of this? Scholars vary in their explanations; but the conclusion must be; (1) that Solomon is rehearsing the allegations of materialistic unbelievers with a view to refuting them in his conclusion (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14), (2) that he was writing of what he saw `under the sun,' and not of what he believed, or (3) that, "Solomon, for the time being, had abandoned his faith in God, altogether,"[1] and that his words throughout Ecclesiastes thus far indicate that, "Man would not know that there was any fundamental difference between a man and a beast."[2] This writer has been unable to find a convincing answer as to which of these explanations should be adopted.

Part of the reason for this uncertainty lies in the enigma of Solomon's life. He was a man greatly loved by the Lord, endowed with great wisdom, who prayed a magnificent prayer at the dedication of the Temple, and who was the most honored and glorified person (from the human standpoint) in the whole history of Israel. In spite of this, however, any careful student of God's Word must conclude that the magnitude of Solomon's wickedness was immeasurable. It is this fact that suggests the possibility that Ecclesiastes is generally a statement of Solomon's unbelief; but if that is true, it would mean that the conclusion in Ecclesiastes 12 was later added by an inspired writer, as some scholars affirm (although without any proof whatever). Another explanation of the magnificent "conclusion of the whole matter" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14) is that Solomon finally came to his senses and returned to the love and service of God. This is the interpretation that seems most logical to this writer.

"The Jews generally, and also St. Jerome, hold the book to have been written by Solomon following his repentance and restoration from the idolatry into which he had fallen through the influence of the heathen women he had married."[3]

We find it impossible to believe that "all is vanity," a declaration that occurs dozens of times in the book. Nor can it be true that men and animals have the same fate. Who can believe that, "Eat, drink, and be joyful," is, in any sense whatever, the ultimate meaning and employment of life? It is impossible to believe that the "dead know nothing," except in a limited sense. Moses and Elijah stood on the mountain of transfiguration and carried on a conversation with Jesus Christ. Of course, Solomon lived before the magnificent revelation of life and immortality that were brought to mankind in the life and teachings of the Christ; but Solomon's father David certainly would never have said a lot of things that one finds in Ecclesiastes.

Also, the idea of the hopelessness and futility of life, stressed throughout Ecclesiastes, was by no means accepted by the patriarchs. They most certainly believed in the possibility, if not the certainty, of life after death. Abraham was willing to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, because, "He believed that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead" (Hebrews 11:19).

From all these considerations, this writer favors the view that Solomon indeed repented (even as did Manasseh), and that after his return to God, he was inspired to write this book, and that many of the things written in Ecclesiastes represent views which Solomon once had erroneously received, and which, when he wrote Ecclesiastes, he would reject and outlaw altogether in his conclusion (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

We have previously mentioned Paul's description of his life under the Mosaic Law (Romans 7), which is analogous to what was probably Solomon's life (and beliefs) prior to his repentance. In all of Ecclesiastes, we should never forget that it was written long ages before the glorious revelation of the New Testament was delivered to mankind, certified and sealed by the death, burial and resurrection of the Son of God.

Ecclesiastes 9:1


"For all this I laid to my heart, even to explore all this: that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God; whether it be love or hatred, man knoweth it not; all is before them."

The grand truth stated here is that God is in control. Everything that occurs, in the final analysis, happens under the permissive will of God.

The meaning of the latter part of this verse is that, "We are unable to discern from that which we may observe taking place in life, which men are living under God's displeasure, and which ones are those whom he loves."[4]

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 9:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

A good man’s trust in God is set forth as a counterpoise to our Ignorance of the ways of Providence.

In the hand of God - Under His special protection (Deuteronomy 33:3 ff) as righteous, and under His direction Proverbs 21:1 as people.

No man ... - literally, both love and also hatred man knoweth not: all are before them. Love and hatred here mean the ordinary outward tokens of God’s favor or displeasure, i. e., prosperity and adversity. “Man knoweth not” probably means: “man knows not whether to expect prosperity or adversity from God; all his earthly future is in obscurity.”

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 9:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter 9

For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knows either love or hatred by all that is before them. All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that fears an oath. This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead ( Ecclesiastes 9:1-3 ).

So one thing happens to everybody--they die whether you're good or bad, sacrifice or don't sacrifice. It doesn't matter. You're all going to die. And as far as Solomon was concerned, that was horrible. If all of your wisdom can't cause you to escape death, all of your wealth can't cause you to escape death, how dies the rich man? As the poor. How dies the wise? As the fool. They all die.

You can't escape death was the conclusion of his human wisdom, but Jesus taught us how to escape death. Jesus said, "He who lives and believes in Me shall never die" ( John 11:26 ). You can escape death by living and believing in Jesus Christ. But the human mind, human wisdom won't bring you to that. It takes the revelation of God. And if you're only coming at life from the human level and trying to find God from the human level, you'll never make it. God must reveal Himself to you by His Spirit. And God has revealed Himself through His Word. And God has revealed, "And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life and this life is in the Son, and he who has the Son has life" ( 1 John 5:11-12 ). "He that lives and believes in Me," Jesus said, "will never die."

For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion ( Ecclesiastes 9:4 ).

I guess so.

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead don't know any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten ( Ecclesiastes 9:5 ).

Now those who teach the annihilation of the soul immediately turn to this as their scriptural proof. The book of Ecclesiastes, a book that deals with human reason, human intellect apart from God. And they pick out this scripture to prove soul annihilation. "For the living know that they shall die, but the dead know nothing, neither have they any more reward. For the memory of them is forgotten." And then in verse Ecclesiastes 9:9 , their second proof text. No, I beg your pardon. The second text is right in here somewhere close.

But anyway, Jesus tells us that there was a certain rich man who fared sumptuously every day. Moreover, there was a poor man who was daily brought at his gate, full of sores, begging bread and eating bread that fell from the rich man's table. And the poor man died and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. And the rich man also died, and in hell, lifted up his eyes being in torment and said, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus unto me that he may take his finger and dip it in water and touch my tongue, for I am tormented in this heat." And Abraham said unto him, "Son, remember that in thy lifetime you had good things." Now that's what Jesus said. The consciousness that exists after death.

Solomon with human reason and understanding said, "But the dead don't know anything." This guy knew that his tongue was tormented, he knew Lazarus, and he knew that he had brothers back on earth who were still living sinful lives. And he could remember his past sinful life. Now you have to either accept the word of Jesus or the word of Solomon in a backslidden state as he is trying to find the reason and purpose of life apart from God, life under the sun. It is wrong to take the book of Ecclesiastes for biblical doctrine. Better to turn to the words of Christ. He surely knew much better than did Solomon in his backslidden state.

Also their love [that is, of the dead], and their hatred, and their envy, [is forgotten] and it's perished [annihilated]; neither have they any more a portion for ever of any thing that is done under the sun ( Ecclesiastes 9:6 ).

They're through. It's over. It's all... it's the end.

Go thy way, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God now accepts your works. Let your garments be always white; and let your head lack no ointment. Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest [all the days of your life] all the days of your empty life, which he hath given you under the sun, all the days of your emptiness: for that is your portion in this life, and in thy labor which you take under the sun ( Ecclesiastes 9:7-9 ).

That's all you're going to get, man, so you might as well go for it. That's life.

Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave ( Ecclesiastes 9:10 ),

That's their other proof text. "No work, device, knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going." It's not what Jesus said.

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all ( Ecclesiastes 9:11 ).

There is no purpose in life. There is no guiding hand in life. It's all a matter of time and chance. That's his conclusion. That is not a Scriptural doctrine. Only Solomon's conclusion of looking at things. Life is just time and chance. It doesn't matter how swift or slow, weak or strong, wise or foolish. Life is just time and chance.

For a man also knows not his time: as the fish that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them. This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great to me ( Ecclesiastes 9:12-13 ):

Now this is what I observed. It seemed like a great thing.

There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and he built great bulwarks against it: Now there was in this little city found a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. Then I said, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that rules among fools. Wisdom is better than the weapons of war: but one sinner destroys much good ( Ecclesiastes 9:14-18 ).

So his conclusions of observing a city spared by a wise man. "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 9:1". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

"All this" refers to the general pattern of God’s inconsistent retribution that Solomon had discussed. Even though he could not predict whether a given person would experience prosperity or adversity, he believed all people are in God’s hand. He sovereignly controls individual destiny, and He may manifest either apparent love or apparent hate toward anyone in this life.

"Every possible thing may befall a man-what actually meets him is the determination and providence of God." [Note: Delitzsch, p. 356.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 9:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

1. The future of the righteous on earth 9:1-10

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 9:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For all this I considered in mine heart,.... What goes before, in the latter end of the preceding chapter, concerning the various providences of God, the difficulty of finding out the reasons of them, and the fruitlessness of attempting it; and also what follows, the work of Providence: Solomon gave his mind unto, attended it with great application, and strictly considered and examined it, in order to find it out, but could not; and if he could not, no other man could. And he had a good intention in all; his views were,

even to declare all this; for the end of search and inquiry should be, to make known what is found for the good of others, Job 5:27; and as the wise man had done before, Ecclesiastes 7:25; or "to purge", or "purify", as the word p signifies; to make dark providences clear, and consistent with the perfections and promises of God; to free and vindicate them from all charges of unrighteousness and partiality, and to set them in a clear light to others: now though he failed in his attempt, yet having made some discoveries, he imparted them, as follows: and the observations he made were,

that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, [are] in the hand of God; that those who are truly "righteous" in the sight of God; are so, in an evangelical sense, made so by the obedience of Christ; and who believe in him for righteousness, and live soberly, righteously, and godly: and who are "wise", not for the things of this world but another, who are wise unto salvation; and are concerned for the truth of grace, as well as an outward profession, and walk wisely in the world; these, their persons, are under the special care of divine Providence; they receive from the hand of God what is needful and proper for them, and they are preserved and protected by him, 1 Timothy 4:8; and their "works", or affairs; all events relating to them, are all appointed, ordered, and directed by the hand of God, and all for their good. In a more evangelic sense, their persons are in the hands of God, Father, Son, and Spirit; in the hands of the Father of Christ, being engraven there: he looks at them, and upon them; with delight and pleasure, and never forgets them; he has a high and honourable esteem of them, they are a crown of glory, and a royal diadem in his hand; he directs and guides them, holds them, and upholds them with his right hand; and keeps them, by his power, through faith unto salvation, John 10:29. They are in the hands of Christ; put there by his Father, as the effect of his love, care, and wisdom; where they are in his possession, the objects of his delight; and are under his guidance and direction, his care and protection, Deuteronomy 33:3. And they are in the hands of the Spirit, who begins and carries on his own work in them; leads them to Christ, and into all truth, and guides them safe to glory, John 16:8. And so their "works" also are in the hands of God; the work of grace upon the soul is in the hand of the Spirit, to carry it on and finish it; good works done by them are done by the assistance of divine grace, the strength of Christ, and the aid of the blessed Spirit; are received and accepted with God through Christ; and will not be forgotten, but are retained, and will be remembered another day; see Ecclesiastes 9:7;

no man knoweth either love or hatred [by] all [that is] before them; no man knows his own love and hatred, his passions are so fickle and inconstant; what he loves now, he presently hates, as may be seen in the instances of Ammon, Ahasuerus, and others: or he knows not that what he loves and hates shall befall him, all depending on divine Providence; or he does not know the love and hatred of others, who are his friends or his foes, there is such deceitfulness in men: or rather, he does not know the love and hatred of God, with respect to himself or others, by the outward conduct of Providence; since the same things happen to one as to another; as health and strength, wealth and riches, honour and fame, wisdom and learning, long life, and the like: good men may know that they are loved of God, by his love being shed abroad in them, by the blessings of grace bestowed on them, and the witnessings of the Spirit to them; and know that sin is abominable to God, and wicked men are hated by him; and living and dying in sin, will be eternally damned; but who is an elect person, and who a reprobate, is not to be known by the outward estate of men, as to the things of life. Some render it, "even love and hatred" q, in connection with the preceding clause; that is, these are in the hands of God also; his love to his people is purely sovereign, according to his own will; not through any motives in them, as their love, loveliness, or good works; and his hatred of others, or the punishment of them for sin, and appointment of them to it; for the same is also as he pleases; see Romans 9:11; or the love and hatred of men; for God has the hearts and passions of all men in his hand, and at his command, and can raise or restrain them at his pleasure, Proverbs 21:1; the love and hatred of good men; he works in them love to himself and all divine things, and hatred of that which is evil; and also of bad men, he can make them love his people, and he can restrain their wrath when he pleases,

Proverbs 16:7; and then the last clause is rendered, "no man knoweth all [that is] before them" r; either before Elohim, the three divine Persons, to whom all things are manifest, or that were before decreed, as Aben Ezra; the purposes and decrees of God, which are the secret and deep things of God, and cannot be known but by his promises or providences: or man is so short sighted, that he cannot discern the things that are plain and manifest before him; and much less things future, that are yet to come. But the words, according to the accents, may be better rendered, as by Munster, "neither love nor hatred man knows"; whether the love professed to him is sincere, and what secret hatred is bore to him: "but all things are before him"; Elohim, the three divine Persons.

p לבור "purgare", Gejerus, Gouge. q גם אהבה גם שנאה "etiam amor, etiam odium", i.e. "in manu Dei", De Dieu, Gouge, Gussetius, p. 150, 873. r אין יודע האדם הכל לפניהם "non norunt homines quicquam corum quaea ante se sunt", De Dieu; "non est homo quisquam qui cognoscat omnes qui sunt coram ipsi", Gussetius, p. 873.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 9:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Mysteries in Providence.

      1 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.   2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.   3 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

      It has been observed concerning those who have pretended to search for the philosophers' stone that, though they could never find what they sought for, yet in the search they have hit upon many other useful discoveries and experiments. Thus Solomon, when, in the close of the foregoing chapter, he applied his heart to know the work of God, and took a great deal of pains to search into it, though he despaired of finding it out, yet he found out that which abundantly recompensed him for the search, and gave him some satisfaction, which he here gives us; for therefore he considered all this in his heart, and weighed it deliberately, that he might declare it for the good of others. Note, What we are to declare we should first consider; think twice before we speak once; and what we have considered we should then declare. I believed, therefore have I spoken.

      The great difficulty which Solomon met with in studying the book of providence was the little difference that is made between good men and bad in the distribution of comforts and crosses, and the disposal of events. This has perplexed the minds of many wise and contemplative men. Solomon discourses of it in Ecclesiastes 9:1-3, and, though he does not undertake to find out this work of God, yet he says that which may prevent its being a stumbling-block to us.

      I. Before he describes the temptation in its strength he lays down a great and unquestionable truth, which he resolves to adhere to, and which, if firmly believed, will be sufficient to break the force of the temptation. This has been the way of God's people in grappling with this difficulty. Job, before he discourses of this matter, lays down the doctrine of God's omniscience (Job 24:1), Jeremiah the doctrine of his righteousness (Jeremiah 12:1), another prophet that of his holiness (Habakkuk 1:13), the psalmist that of his goodness and peculiar favour to his own people (Psalms 73:1), and that is it which Solomon here fastens upon and resolves to abide by, that, though good and evil seem to be dispensed promiscuously, yet God has a particular care of and concern for his own people: The righteous and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God, under his special protection and guidance; all their affairs are managed by him for their good; all their wise and righteous actions are in his hand, to be recompensed in the other world, though not in this. They seem as if they were given up into the hand of their enemies, but it is not so. Men have no power against them but what is given them from above. The events that affect them do not come to pass by chance, but all according to the will and counsel of God, which will turn that to be for them which seemed to be most against them. Let this make us easy, whatever happens, that all God's saints are in his hand, Deuteronomy 33:3; John 10:29; Psalms 31:15.

      II. He lays this down for a rule, that the love and hatred of God are not to be measured and judged of by men's outward condition. If prosperity were a certain sign of God's love, and affliction of his hatred, then it might justly be an offence to us to see the wicked and godly fare alike. But the matter is not so: No man knows either love or hatred by all that is before him in this world, by those things that are the objects of sense. These we may know by that which is within us; if we love God with all our heart, thereby we may know that he loves us, as we may know likewise that we are under his wrath if we be governed by that carnal mind which is enmity to him. These will be known by that which shall be hereafter, by men's everlasting state; it is certain that men are happy or miserable according as they are under the love or hatred of God, but not according as they are under the smiles or frowns of the world; and therefore if God loves a righteous man (as certainly he does) he is happy, though the world frown upon him; and if he hates a wicked man (as certainly he does) he is miserable, though the world smile upon him. Then the offence of this promiscuous distribution of events has ceased.

      III. Having laid down these principles, he acknowledges that all things come alike to all; so it has been formerly, and therefore we are not to think it strange if it be so now, if it be so with us and our families. Some make this, and all that follows to Ecclesiastes 9:13; Ecclesiastes 9:13, to be the perverse reasoning of the atheists against the doctrine of God's providence; but I rather take it to be Solomon's concession, which he might the more freely make when he had fixed those truths which are sufficient to guard against any ill use that may be made of what he grants. Observe here (Ecclesiastes 9:2; Ecclesiastes 9:2),

      1. The great difference that there is between the characters of the righteous and the wicked, which, in several instances, are set the one over-against the other, to show that, though all things come alike to all, yet that does not in the least confound the eternal distinction between moral good and evil, but that remains immutable. (1.) The righteous are clean, have clean hands and pure hearts; the wicked are unclean, under the dominion of unclean lusts, pure perhaps in their own eyes, but not cleansed from their filthiness, God will certainly put a difference between the clean and the unclean, the precious and the vile, in the other world, though he does not seem to do so in this. (2.) The righteous sacrifice, that is, they make conscience of worshipping God according to his will, both with inward and outward worship; the wicked sacrifice not, that is, they live in the neglect of God's worship and grudge to part with any thing for his honour. What is the Almighty, that they should serve him? (3.) The righteous are good, good in God's sight, they do good in the world; the wicked are sinners, violating the laws of God and man, and provoking to both. (4.) The wicked man swears, has no veneration for the name of God, but profanes it by swearing rashly and falsely; but the righteous man fears an oath, swears not, but is sworn, and then with great reverence; he fears to take an oath, because it is a solemn appeal to God as a witness and judge; he fears, when he has taken a oath, to break it, because God is righteous who takes vengeance.

      2. The little difference there is between the conditions of the righteous and the wicked in this world: There is one event to both. Is David rich? So is Nabal. Is Joseph favoured by his prince? So is Haman. Is Ahab killed in a battle? So is Josiah. Are the bad figs carried to Babylon? So are the good, Jeremiah 24:1. There is a vast difference between the original, the design, and the nature, of the same event to the one and to the other; the effects and issues of it are likewise vastly different; the same providence to the one is a savour of life unto life, to the other of death unto death, though, to outward appearance, it is the same.

      IV. He owns this to be a very great grievance to those that are wise and good: "This is an evil, the greatest perplexity, among all things that are done under the sun (Ecclesiastes 9:3; Ecclesiastes 9:3); nothing has given me more disturbance than this, that there is one event unto all." It hardens atheists, and strengthens the hands of evil-doers; for therefore it is that the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil and fully set in them to do evil,Ecclesiastes 8:11; Ecclesiastes 8:11. When they see that there is one event to the righteous and the wicked they wickedly infer thence that it is all one to God whether they are righteous or wicked, and therefore they stick at nothing to gratify their lusts.

      V. For the further clearing of this great difficulty, as he began this discourse with the doctrine of the happiness of the righteous (whatever they may suffer, they and their works are in the hands of God, and therefore in good hands, they could not be in better), so he concludes with the doctrine of the misery of the wicked; however they may prosper, madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. Envy not the prosperity of evil-doers, for, 1. They are now madmen, and all the delights they seem to be blessed with are but like the pleasant dreams and fancies of a distracted man. They are mad upon their idols (Jeremiah 50:38), are mad against God's people, Acts 26:11. When the prodigal repented, it is said, He came to himself (Luke 15:17), which intimates that he had been beside himself before. 2. They will shortly be dead men. They make a mighty noise and bustle while they live, but after awhile, they go to the dead, and there is an end of all their pomp and power; they will then be reckoned with for all their madness and outrage in sin. Though, on this side death, the righteous and the wicked seem alike, on the other side death there will be a vast difference between them.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Ecclesiastes 9:1". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.