True wisdom is to observe God's commandments. The ways of God are unsearchable.
8:1. The wisdom of a man shineth in his countenance, and the most mighty will change his face.
8:2. I observe the mouth of the king, and the commandments of the oath of God.
8:3. Be not hasty to depart from his face, and do not continue in an evil work: for he will do all that pleaseth him:
8:4. And his word is full of power: neither can any man say to him: Why dost thou so?
8:5. He that keepeth the commandment, shall find no evil. The heart of a wiser man understandeth time and answer.
8:6. There is a time and opportunity for every business, and great affliction for man:
8:7. Because he is ignorant of things past, and things to come he cannot know by any messenger.
8:8. It is not in man's power to stop the spirit, neither hath he power in the day of death, neither is he suffered to rest when war is at hand, neither shall wickedness save the wicked.
8:9. All these things I have considered, and applied my heart to all the works that are done under the sun. Sometimes one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.
8:10. I saw the wicked buried: who also when they were yet living were in the holy place, and were praised in the city as men of just works: but this also is vanity.
8:11. For because sentence is not speedily pronounced against the evil, the children of men commit evils without any fear.
8:12. But though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and by patience be borne withal, I know from thence that it shall be well with them that fear God, who dread his face.
8:13. But let it not be well with the wicked, neither let his days be prolonged, but as a shadow let them pass away that fear not the face of the Lord.
8:14. There is also another vanity, which is done upon the earth. There are just men to whom evils happen, as though they had done the works of the wicked: and there are wicked men, who are as secure as though they had the deeds of the just: but this also I judge most vain.
8:15. Therefore I commended mirth, because there was no good for a man under the sun, but to eat, and drink, and be merry, and that he should take nothing else with him of his labour in the days of his life, which God hath given him under the sun.
No good for a man, etc... Some commentators think the wise man here speaks in the person of the libertine: representing the objections of these men against divine providence, and the inferences they draw from thence, which he takes care afterwards to refute. But it may also be said, that his meaning is to commend the moderate use of the goods of this world, preferably to the cares and solicitudes of worldlings, their attachment to vanity and curiosity, and presumptuously diving into the unsearchable ways of divine providence.
8:16. And I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to understand the distraction that is upon earth: for there are some that day and night take no sleep with their eyes.
8:17. And I understood that man can find no reason of all those works of God that are done under the sun: and the more he shall labour to seek, so much the less shall he find: yea, though the wise man shall say, that he knoweth it, he shall not be able to find it.
Ecclesiastes Chapter 9
Man knows not certainty that he is in God's grace. After death no more work or merit.
9:1. All these things have I considered in my heart, that I might carefully understand them: there are just men and wise men, and their works are in the hand of God: and yet man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love, or hatred:
9:2. But all things are kept uncertain for the time to come, because all things equally happen to the just and to the wicked, to the good and to the evil, to the clean and to the unclean, to him that offereth victims, and to him that despiseth sacrifices. As the good is, so also is the sinner: as the perjured, so he also that sweareth truth.
9:3. This is a very great evil among all things that are done under the sun, that the same things happen to all men: whereby also the hearts of the children of men are filled with evil, and with contempt while they live, and afterwards they shall be brought down to hell.
9:4. There is no man that liveth always, or that hopeth for this: a living dog is better than a dead lion.
9:5. For the living know that they shall die, but the dead know nothing more, neither have they a reward any more: for the memory of them is forgotten.
Know nothing more... Viz., as to the transactions of this world, in which they have now no part, unless it be revealed to them; neither have they any knowledge or power now of doing any thing to secure their eternal state, (if they have not taken care of it in their lifetime:) nor can they now procure themselves any good, as the living always may do, by the grace of God.
9:6. Their love also, and their hatred, and their envy are all perished, neither have they any part in this world, and in the work that is done under the sun.
9:7. Go then, and eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with gladness: because thy works please God.
9:8. At all times let thy garments be white, and let not oil depart from thy head.
9:9. Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest, all the days of thy unsteady life, which are given to thee under the sun, all the time of thy vanity: for this is thy portion in life, and in thy labour wherewith thou labourest under the sun.
9:10. Whatsoever thy hand is able to do, do it earnestly: for neither work, nor reason, nor wisdom, nor knowledge shall be in hell, whither thou art hastening.
9:11. I turned me to another thing, and 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 learned, nor favour to the skilful: but time and chance in all.
9:12. Man knoweth not his own end: but as fishes are taken with the hook, and as birds are caught with the snare, so men are taken in the evil time, when it shall suddenly come upon them.
9:13. This wisdom also I have seen under the sun, and it seemed to me to be very great:
9:14. A little city, and few men in it: there came against it a great king, and invested it, and built bulwarks round about it, and the siege was perfect.
9:15. Now there was found in it a man poor and wise, and he delivered the city by his wisdom, and no man afterward remembered that poor man.
9:16. And I said that wisdom is better than strength: how then is the wisdom of the poor man slighted, and his words not heard?
9:17. The words of the wise are heard in silence, more than the cry of a prince among fools.
9:18. Better is wisdom, than weapons of war: and he that shall offend in one, shall lose many good things.
Ecclesiastes Chapter 10
Observations on wisdom and folly, ambition and detraction.
10:1. Dying flies spoil the sweetness of the ointment. Wisdom and glory is more precious than a small and shortlived folly.
10:2. The heart of a wise man is in his right hand, and the heart of a fool is in his left hand.
10:3. Yea, and the fool when he walketh in the way, whereas he himself is a fool, esteemeth all men fools.
10:4. If the spirit of him that hath power, ascend upon thee, leave not thy place: because care will make the greatest sins to cease.
10:5. There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as it were by an error proceeding from the face of the prince:
10:6. A fool set in high dignity, and the rich sitting beneath.
10:7. I have seen servants upon horses: and princes walking on the ground as servants.
10:8. He that diggeth a pit, shall fall into it: and he that breaketh a hedge, a serpent shall bite him.