Life is a game of chance (Eccl 9:11-9:12)

“Again I saw that under the sun.

The race is not to the swift.

Nor is the battle to the strong.

Nor is bread to the wise.

Nor is riches to the intelligent.

Nor is favor to the skillful.

But time happens to them all.

Chance happens to them all.

No one can anticipate

The time of disaster.

Like fish taken in a cruel net,

Like birds caught in a snare,

So mortals are snared

At a time of calamity.

When it suddenly falls upon them.”

Qoheleth sees human life under the sun like a game of chance. The swiftest runner does not always win the race. The strongest do not always win the battle. The wise do not always have the best food. The intelligent are not always rich. The skillful do not always succeed. Time and chance play a role. No one can predict when disaster will come. Just as fish and birds get stuck in nets and snares, so too mortals get caught when calamity suddenly happens to them.

The hidden work of God (Eccl 8:16-8:17)

“I applied my mind to know wisdom.

When I wanted to see the business

That is done on earth,

How one’s eyes see sleep

Neither day nor night.

Then I saw all the work of God.

No one can find out

What is happening

Under the sun.

However much they may toil in seeking,

They will not find it out.

Even though those who are wise

Claim to know,

They cannot find it out.”

Qoheleth wanted to know about wisdom so he applied his mind. He wanted to see everything that was done on earth. However, no one could tell him what was happening here on earth, under the sun. Even the wise ones could not find out, despite their labors. These wise humans were not able to discern the wisdom of the work of God.

Enjoy yourself (Eccl 8:15-8:15)

“So I commend enjoyment.

There is nothing better for people

Under the sun

Than to eat and drink.

Let them enjoy themselves.

This will go with them

In their toil

Through the days of life

That God gives him

Under the sun.”

Qoheleth has a response to all this ambiguity that was also found with Job. His recommendation is that they should enjoy yourselves. There is nothing better under the sun than to eat and drink. Enjoy your labor under the sun during all the days of your life that God has given you. Just relax and enjoy life.

The right time (Eccl 8:6-8:9)

“Every matter has its time,

Every matter has its way,

Even though the troubles of mortals

Lie heavy upon them.

Indeed they do not know

What is to be.

Who can tell him

How it will be?

No one has power over the wind,

To restrain the wind.

No one has power over the day of death.

There is no discharge from the battle.

Wickedness does not deliver

Those who practice it.

All this I observed.

I applied my mind to all

That is done

Under the sun.

One person exercises authority over another

To the other’s hurt.”

You have to know the right time and the correct way to do things. Those with wisdom will be able to do these things. No knows how to stop the wind or the day of their death. You cannot be excused from the battle. Wickedness has its own reward. Qoheleth knows all about these things because he observed them. He saw how one person exercised authority over another that caused harm. That is our way of life under the sun.

The inability to enjoy a wealthy life (Eccl 6:1-6:6)

“There is an evil

That I have seen under the sun.

It lies heavy upon humans.

God gives wealth.

God gives possessions.

God gives honor to people.

Thus they lack nothing of all that they desire.

Yet God does not enable them

To enjoy these things.

But a stranger enjoys them.

This is vanity.

It is a grievous illness.

If a man beget a hundred children,

If a man lives many years,

However many are the days of his years,

But he does not enjoy life’s good things,

If he has no burial,

I say

That a stillborn child is

Better off than he.

‘It comes into vanity.

It goes into darkness.

In darkness

Its name is covered.

Moreover it has not seen the sun

It does not know anything.

Yet it finds rest rather than him.’

Even though he should

Live a thousand years twice over,

Yet enjoy no good,

Do not all go to the one place?”

Qoheleth finds another evil under the sun in his pessimistic mood. What happens to those who have everything that they desire? Somehow they are not able to enjoy all their wealth. Instead a stranger seems to enjoy them. This is another useless vain thing, another grievous illness among us. Even if someone had 100 children and a long life, but cannot enjoy them, what is the point of all this? If he does not even get a burial, this wealthy person with a large family and a long life is no better off than a stillborn child. This is an amazing comparison. He maintains that the stillborn is better off because it lives in darkness with no name, never seeing the sun, or knowing anything, but finds a better rest than this old rich guy with the large family. Even though this person might live 2,000 years, he would not enjoy any good things. After all, the stillborn and this old guy, as well as everyone else, will end up in the same place, dead.

Enjoy your wealth (Eccl 5:18-5:20)

“This is what I have seen to be good.

It is fitting is to eat and drink.

It is fitting to find enjoyment

In all the toil

With which one toils under the sun

The few days of the life

That God gives us.

This is our lot.

Likewise,

God gives wealth.

God gives possessions.

He enables them to enjoy them.

They should accept their lot.

They should find enjoyment

In their toil.

This is the gift of God.

They will scarcely brood

Over the days of their life

Because God keeps them occupied

With joy in their hearts.”

Qoheleth finally found something good. It was appropriate to eat and drink. You should find enjoyment in your work when you toil under the sun. God has given you a few days to enjoy all this. This is your lot in life, accept it. You may have wealth and possession, so enjoy them. Enjoy your work and any wealth that comes with it as a gift from God. Do not brood over the few days you have here on earth because God can keep you occupied with joy in your heart.