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Chapter 9

So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no man knows whether love or hate awaits him. All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good man, so with the sinner; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them. This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.

I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siegeworks against it. Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded. The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

Rob Don, Under the Sun

Everyone dies, regardless of whether they do good or evil, righteousness or wickedness, wisdom or foolishness, and whether they are clean or unclean.  Circumstances hit all people, regardless of hard work, wisdom, money, or intelligence.  Hard work doesn’t guarantee success, because random chance is often a bigger factor.  Humanity is dominated by evil in heart and action.  Yet, wisdom is a precious treasure.  Wisdom is powerful and gets things done, even if the doer is eventually forgotten. 

Random chance seems to add to the injustices that humans create.  The man who does our landscaping was told to stay home due to the Shelter in Place order in our area for the COVID-19 pandemic.  A neighbor, undoubtedly thinking they were doing good, called the police, who told him he would be fined $1500 if he violates the order again.  It affects me only as an inconvenience; I can do my own yard work without too much trouble.  But whenever I see my other neighbors getting their landscapes done, I feel sad that my landscaper’s livelihood is eliminated and he is forced to stay at home rather than enjoy the dignity of earning his living, while others who were not reported continue to work as before.  I hope that the restriction is lifted soon, so that all those at home can get back to work, with some constraints to protect their safety.

All people do will be forgotten after death.  People even forgot a wise man who saved a whole city—that’s a shame.  (For a fascinating story of a wise woman who saved a city, see II Samuel chapter 20).  How it is meaningless: Fame and wealth don’t last.  So enjoy life while you have it, and honor God, because now is the time to enjoy His rewards.  Enjoy your spouse and hard work, and live heartily, because you don’t have another chance to live “under the sun” after you die.   

Even though we now know all who trust in Jesus have eternal life in Him, yet that life is different from this time “under the sun.”  So it is still true that we should make the most of this unique time here on the earth to do good and enjoy God’s reward for it.  Enjoy wholesome fun with your family, and your spouse.  Wisdom is better than folly, and there is good in contentment during this life.  Use time wisely to invest in eternity—in people whose souls are eternal, and in proclaiming God’s eternal words. 

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