Ecclesiastes 9:1–12 (NKJV)
9:1 For I considered all this in my heart, so that I could declare it all: that the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God. People know neither love nor hatred by anything they see before them. 2 All things come alike to all: One event happens to the righteous and the wicked;
To the good, the clean, and the unclean;
To him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice.
As is the good, so is the sinner;
He who takes an oath as he who fears an oath.
3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: that one thing happens to all. Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 4 But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
5 For the living know that they will die;
But the dead know nothing,
And they have no more reward,
For the memory of them is forgotten.
6 Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished;
Nevermore will they have a share
In anything done under the sun.
7 Go, eat your bread with joy,
And drink your wine with a merry heart;
For God has already accepted your works.
8 Let your garments always be white,
And let your head lack no oil.
9 Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun.
10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.
11 I returned and saw under the sun that—The race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor bread to the wise,
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favor to men of skill;
But time and chance happen to them all.
12 For man also does not know his time:
Like fish taken in a cruel net,
Like birds caught in a snare,
So the sons of men are snared in an evil time,
When it falls suddenly upon them.
In verses 1 – 6, Solomon discusses how good and bad things come to the righteous and holy and to the evil and foolish. There is little distinction among who does well and who suffers. Living righteous does not absolutely guarantee that you will never have problems or attacks against your life. However, the living do have a distinct advantage over the dead: they still have time to live! Solomon goes so far as to declare that a living dog is worth more than a dead lion. In life, a lion can kill a dog and rule the jungle, but in death, he corrupts and decays and fades into the earth. So live the life you have with passion and power.
In verses 7 – 12, the Preacher then encourages his readers to eat and drink the fruit of their works with joy, and to enjoy your spouse. These rewards are the portion of the wise and hard-working individual. So work hard and put your hand to your labor now, while you can. Death is coming when no one can work. Winners are not necessarily the strong, swift, or wise. Instead, redeem the time and do not get caught in a snare of sloth or carelessness. Your chances of success are much greater if you work hard and live wise!