By nature, people are uncomfortable reflecting on life’s hardest realities, such as the uncertainty of the future and the certainty of death. Instead of considering our existence beyond this life, we often choose to focus on the fleeting pleasures of this world. Alistair Begg reminds us that, despite our best efforts to ignore these issues, our hearts will remain restless until we find rest in the God who created us.
1Who is like the wise?
And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
A man's wisdom makes his face shine,
and the hardness of his face is changed.
2I say:1 Keep the king's command, because of God's oath to him.2 3Be not hasty to go from his presence. Do not take your stand in an evil cause, for he does whatever he pleases. 4For the word of the king is supreme, and who may say to him, “What are you doing?” 5Whoever keeps a command will know no evil thing, and the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way. 6For there is a time and a way for everything, although man's trouble3 lies heavy on him. 7For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him how it will be? 8No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death. There is no discharge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it. 9All this I observed while applying my heart to all that is done under the sun, when man had power over man to his hurt.
10Then I saw the wicked buried. They used to go in and out of the holy place and were praised4 in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity.5 11Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. 12Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. 13But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
14There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. 15And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.
16When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one's eyes see sleep, 17then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.
1But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. 2It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil,1 to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. 3This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 4But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5For 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. 6Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.
7Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.
8Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.
9Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain2 life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might,3 for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
11Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. 12For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.
13I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me. 14There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. 15But there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man's wisdom is despised and his words are not heard.
17The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. 18Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.
Copyright © 2021, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.