To get a proper understanding of this portion, I believe we need to go back to the beginning of this book.  We read in Ecclesiastes 1:1-3, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?”  In searching for happiness and purpose ‘under the sun’ Solomon became a discouraged man who declared that ‘all is vanity (emptiness).’  In his searches, Solomon reached numerous ‘conclusions’.  This portion contains some of those conclusions.

In his discouraged state, Solomon declared that “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. (Ecclesiastes 9:5). “This verse is constantly used by false teachers to prove that the soul sleeps in death,  that consciousness ceases when the last breath is taken.  But is it senseless to build a doctrine of the hereafter on this verse, or on this book, that that matter.  As has been repeatedly emphasized, Ecclesiastes represents man’s best conclusions as he searches for answers “under the sun.”  It sets forth deductions based on observations and on logic, but not on divine revelation.  It is what a wise man might think if he did not have a Bible.”  (William MacDonald)

With that in mind, we can more easily understand Solomon’s statement in verse 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.”  To the natural eye, it appears that once a person is dead, he no longer exists.  However, with the knowledge that comes from the Word of God, we know from Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”  As I often say while speaking at funeral services, “When life is over…life is not over!”

Let’s read Ecclesiastes 9:11-18, “I returned, and saw UNDER THE SUN, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them. This wisdom have I seen also UNDER THE SUN, and it seemed great unto me: There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.”

In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon uses the expression “under the sun” 29 times.  It becomes obvious that his observations and conclusions reflect the perspective of looking at things naturally, rather than looking at them through the Word of God.  Solomon concludes that time and chance play a huge role in the destiny of men.  The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race.  The strongest warrior does not always win the battle, etc.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason “under the sun.”

The book of Ecclesiastes is unique.  There is no other book like it, because it is the only book in the Bible that reflects a human, rather than a divine, point of view.  It is indeed inspired of God.  The Lord led Solomon to write from his depressed point of view.  He writes as a man who only views things are they are naturally…as they are “under the sun.”  For more on this important book, please visit our website: and type “Ecclesiastes” into the search bar.  (347.2)