4 ¶ For to him that 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 shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. 7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. 8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. 9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. 10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
At least, Solomon says, while you’re alive, there is hope. The living have the opportunity, we would say from our perspective, of receiving Christ as their personal Saviour, and while they are alive that hope remains. The dead know have nothing more to do with this world and their hope is gone if they have not trusted in Christ.
Job 7:7 ¶ O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good. 8 The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more: thine eyes are upon me, and I am not. 9 As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more. 10 He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more.
A person’s enjoyments, his pleasures, and his daily toils perish with his flesh. His passions, his feelings, and his influence in worldly affairs, except by his memory, are gone. Your power tools and your baseball card collection have no meaning in eternity, as neither do your American Girl dolls or your Precious Moments figurines.
John 6:27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
1Corinthians 6:13a Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them...
We should learn to live in the now, enjoying what God has so kindly given us, but act keeping eternity in mind.
For verse 8 it is noteworthy to remember that in Revelation white garments are a type of the righteousness of the saints, believers, as a symbol of that righteousness.
Solomon tells the man to live joyfully with the wife that God has given him all the days of his life. Solomon elsewhere speaks of this.
Proverbs 5:15 ¶ Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. 16 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. 17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. 18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. 19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.
Paul expresses the relationship between a husband and wife as being a type of Christ and His church, His bride, as Paul defines the limits of wifely submission in contexting it with Christians submitting to each other. Women clearly are not to submit to men in general but to their own husbands as Paul repeats in Titus 2:5 and as Peter says in 1Peter 3:5. God is not the author of confusion ;
Ephesians 5:21 ¶ Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Solomon here tells a person to be the best that he or she can be, to work hard, and excel in the best way they can in their work but understand that when your life is over that is gone. You will not be a salesperson, a janitor, a company CEO, or a homebuilder in death. Paul tells the Christian that there is something more for him to consider as we do not live in a kingdom dedicated to God;
Romans 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
There is a clear division here, and it is important to remember that Solomon is speaking only of this temporal existence. It would be easy, as some unbelieving “scholars” have done, to get into the thinking that Solomon didn’t know about a resurrection. But, that is a stupid idea as a resurrection is spoken of in the oldest written book of the Bible, Job, hundreds of years before Solomon, and in Isaiah’s writing, hundreds of years after Solomon, the speculations of educated idiots influenced by eighteenth century German heresies notwithstanding.
Job 19:25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
Isaiah 26:19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
And as Job refers to his resurrection Solomon will later refer to the spirit of man returning to God. Keep in mind, though, that Solomon’s lamentation in Ecclesiastes is exclusively a perspective on this physical existence.
So, Solomon says here to be grateful you’re alive, be the best you can be at what you do, enjoy your life and your spouse, and remember, you get one chance to make a difference in this world.
Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment…