v9: Live joyfully with the wife whom you love: Solomon counsels us to enjoy the company of a good spouse, as she (he) will bring a measure of comfort into a life that is futile (a life that ultimately produces nothing – from Solomon’s perspective).
- All the days of your vain life: Solomon is writing from such a negative perspective because he has no hope or Kingdom expectation. He sees death as the end of everything. He is seeing life through what he can know scientifically – through experience and not through the revelation of G-d.
v10: In this verse Solomon is saying that the place of the dead (Sheol) is empty or void of all things. This however is not true. Dan 12:2 tells us that when we die we will all experience one of two things: either we are going to experience eternal life or we will experience eternal judgment (shame and contempt).
v11: I returned: He went back and reconsidered life.
- The race is not to the swift…: Being the best at something does not guarantee getting the reward for it. Having the ability does not necessarily bring about desired results.
- Time and chance: We need to be prepared for any outcome in this world. This world is stained with sin and is not in its proper order. Therefore we are going to suffer injustice, hardship, unfairness etc. All of these things should give us a desire to escape this world and enter into the Kingdom of G-d. When we have this perspective, we are going to utilize the time that we have here for Kingdom purposes.
v12: Sons of men: Humanity
- It (death) falls suddenly upon them: Solomon says we are no better off than a fish or a bird caught in a trap, delivered over to death. Death can happen suddenly and sometimes happens without any forewarning – it can strike at any time.
v13: Solomon was given great wisdom and with it he saw injustice in the world. He gives us an example of this injustice…
v14-15: A mighty king came against a tiny city with few men. But a poor wise man lived in that city
- He…delivered the city: He saved the city by his wisdom.
- Poor: Despite saving the city the man lived a very meagre, sad, miserable kind of life. This man did not get the proper respect and thought that Solomon thought he deserved.
v16: Solomon is saying here that those who are wise but who are of little consequence will not be paid attention to and nor will they get the credit they deserve.
v17: Spoken quietly: Words that are intended to bring comfort to the hearer.
- Rather than the shout: Quiet words are heard better than the shouts of a ruler among the foolish.
v18: Even though wisdom is superior the problem, is this: it’s going to be forgotten, and will not have any lasting effect to it.
- One sinner destroys much good: A person may have a great amount of wisdom, but that wisdom can be destroyed by one sin.
Note: What Solomon is trying to convey to us is that we’re outnumbered because this world is evil. Even powerful kings will not be remembered. Reading through this chapter could leave one feeling depressed but we have the beauty and the joy of a Kingdom faith! We are going to be victorious over all these things that Solomon laments about (John 16:33)