To get a good understanding of these verses, it is necessary that we go back to the beginning of this book.  Ecclesiastes 1:1-3 says, “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?”

The Preacher, who is Solomon, in this book, seeks to gain knowledge of the world.  He does it independent of the Lord and seeks knowledge by his own devices and understanding.  In all his searching apart from the Lord’s revelation, he discovers that all is VANITY and vexation of spirit.  In verse 2 alone here, he uses the word VANITY fives times!  In this case and in this book the word vanity means: emptiness, something transitory and unsatisfactory.  Looking through the eyes of the natural man, Solomon determines that all the world has to offer is emptiness and is unsatisfying. 

He also uses the expression, UNDER THE SUN throughout this book (29 times).  There are things ABOVE THE SUN, such as Heaven, but the Preacher is occupied with that which is under the sun…the things of the earth, and what the natural man does on the earth apart from God.  In Solomon’s conclusions in this book, he does not look to God for answers, he seeks to reason within himself for his answers.  He says in Ecclesiastes 1:16, “I COMMUNED WITH MINE OWN HEART…” 

Now, let’s read Ecclesiastes 9:1-6, “For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them. All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath. This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 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. 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.” 

This chapter begins with Solomon reminding us that he “CONSIDERED IN MY HEART.”  He is reasoning to himself and not looking to the Lord for His wisdom.  To the natural man it seems there is no justice, there is no order, nothing makes sense, all is vanity.  There is one common event to the righteous and the wicked, to the clean and the unclean, to the one who sacrifices and the one that does not, to the one who is good and the one who is a sinner, to the one who will swear an oath and the one who is afraid to take an oath.  The common event among all is DEATH.  All die!  “They go to the dead.”

In Solomon’s earthly wisdom he declares that “a living dog is better than a dead lion.”  He determines that as long a someone is alive; he still has hope.  He goes on to say in verse 5 that the living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing!  In death, there is no reward, the memory of them is soon forgotten.  All they ever did or felt is now gone because they are dead. 

This is Solomon’s conclusion so in the next few verses he encourages his readers to enjoy life to the fullest for it will soon be over.  “Ecclesiastes represents the natural 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 revelations.  It is what a wise man might think if he did not have a Bible.” (William MacDonald). 

Thankfully, we have much more that wisdom that is from “under the sun”.  Thankfully, we have the Bible and the Spirit of God to guide us in our understanding.  James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”  Thankfully, we have “wisdom that is from above.”  (463.6)