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Ecclesiastes 9 The Voice (VOICE)

Teacher: So I set my mind on all of this, examined it thoroughly, and here’s what I think: The righteous and the wise and all their deeds are in God’s hands. Whether they are destined to be loved or hated, no one but God knows. Everyone shares a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good [and the bad],[a] the clean and the unclean, those who sacrifice and those who neglect the sacrifices. The good and the faithful are treated no differently than the sinner. Those who take an oath are treated no differently than those afraid to commit. Such a great injustice! Here is an evil that pervades all that is done under the sun: the same destiny happens to us all. Human hearts are inclined toward evil; madness runs deep throughout our lives. And then what happens? We die. So long as we are alive, we have hope; it is better to be a living dog, you see, than a dead lion. At least the living know they will die; the dead don’t know anything. No future, no reward is awaiting them, and one day they will be completely forgotten. All of their love and hate and envy die with them; then it is too late to share in the human struggle under the sun.

At best, life is unpredictable. No one knows whether a pleasant or harsh future awaits. Perhaps it is better that way. It would be nice if good actions always guaranteed a pleasant future, but they don’t. Sometimes, in this fallen world, it is just the opposite. One thing is certain, however: everyone faces death. It is the great equalizer. Yet the teacher is assured of something else: those who are right with God and live wisely are in His hands.

Teacher: So here is what you should do: go and enjoy your meals, drink your wine and love every minute of it because God is already pleased with what you do. Dress your best, and don’t forget a splash of scented fragrance. Enjoy life with the woman you love. Cherish every moment of the fleeting life which God has given you under the sun. For this is your lot in life, your great reward for all of your hard work under the sun. 10 Whatever you find to do, do it well because where you are going—the grave—there will be no working or thinking or knowing or wisdom.

11 I turned and witnessed something else under the sun: the race does not always go to the swift, the battle is not always won by the strong, bread does not always fill the table of the wise, wealth does not always accrue to the skillful, and favor is not always granted to the knowledgeable; but time and misfortune happen to them all. 12 A person can’t possibly know when his time will come. Like fish caught in a cruel net or birds trapped in a snare, without warning the unexpected happens, and people are caught up in an evil time.

When tragedy strikes, neither our wisdom nor our wealth nor our power can spare us from it.

13 I have witnessed an example of wisdom under the sun and admit I found it impressive: 14 Once there was a small town with only a few people in it. One day, out of nowhere, a king and his powerful army marched against it, surrounded it, and besieged it. The villagers didn’t know how to fend off such a powerful enemy. 15 But one man, who was very poor but very wise, rallied the villagers and managed to drive the army away. (The village remains to this day, but no one remembers the name of that one wise man who saved the village.) 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the wisdom of the poor is despised; nobody listens to their wise counsel.

17     It is better to hear the soft-spoken words of a wise person
        than the rant of a tyrant in the company of fools.
18     Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
        yet one wrongdoer can undo much good.


  1. 9:2 Most manuscripts omit this portion.
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Ecclesiastes 9 New International Version (NIV)

A Common Destiny for All

So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them. All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad,[a] the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.

As it is with the good,
    so with the sinful;
as it is with those who take oaths,
    so with those who are afraid to take them.

This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. Anyone who is among the living has hope[b]—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!

For the living know that they will die,
    but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
    and even their name is forgotten.
Their love, their hate
    and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
    in anything that happens under the sun.

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

11 I have seen something else under the sun:

The race is not to the swift
    or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
    or wealth to the brilliant
    or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

12 Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:

As fish are caught in a cruel net,
    or birds are taken in a snare,
so people are trapped by evil times
    that fall unexpectedly upon them.

Wisdom Better Than Folly

13 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: 14 There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. 15 Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.

17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
    than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
    but one sinner destroys much good.


  1. Ecclesiastes 9:2 Septuagint (Aquila), Vulgate and Syriac; Hebrew does not have and the bad.
  2. Ecclesiastes 9:4 Or What then is to be chosen? With all who live, there is hope
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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