Ecclesiastes 9:1-18

Talks for Growing Christians

Keeping the Joy of Living

Ecclesiastes 9:1-18

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Lesson Number 11

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Man’s limited knowledge should not diminish a believer’s joy of living.
  2. Man’s limited knowledge should not diminish a believer’s dedication for work.
  3. Man’s limited knowledge should not diminish a believer’s appreciation of wisdom.

Practical Application

  1. Don’t be surprised if people forget you!


  1. In review, what are the two major points to keep in mind when studying the book of Ecclesiastes? What conclusion can we draw regarding life as Solomon presents it?
  2. In verse 1 of chapter 9, Solomon uses the phrase, “all this.” What is Solomon referring to?
  3. In verses 1-9, Solomon makes it clear that man has limited knowledge. What would be an improper response to this truth? What would be a proper response?
  4. Solomon gives advice concerning work in verse 10. Is this good advice?
  5. What is the lesson that Solomon teaches us about wisdom in verses 13-18?


  1. When studying Ecclesiastes, keep in mind that the complete theme of the book: While life and labor under the sun without God in the picture are meaningless, life and labor received with God in the picture and viewed from His perspective from above the sun and from what He has revealed to us in Scripture, can be a life of joy and meaning. Also keep in mind that in the structure of the book, Solomon includes the divine perspective from above the sun throughout the book, not just in the final chapter. Solomon’s conclusion is that life can be lived joyously because it is a gift from God. See chapters 2, 3, 5 and 8.
  2. The phrase “all this” that Solomon uses in verse 1 of chapter 9 refers to the teachings in the second half of chapter 8 – that the ways of God are beyond human wisdom. Verse 8:17 confirms that although God has complete control and knows all, He has designed His moral universe in a way that is beyond human wisdom.
  3. While God has designed His universe in such a way that mankind has limited knowledge, we should not be discouraged or demoralized. We should understand that with divine approval we can live life under the sun joyously, because life is a gift of the Creator and Controller of all things.
  4. In the positive view of Ecclesiastes which we are presenting, verse 10 is good advice. Just as our limited knowledge should not diminish our joy of living, so our limited knowledge should not diminish our dedication for work. Whatever area of work or service the Lord sovereignly gives us in this life, we should use all of our abilities and capabilities to do the work to the best of our ability.
  5. The wisdom lesson taught by Solomon in verses 13-18 is that we should learn to appreciate wisdom. Even though it is not always heeded and is limited, quiet words of wisdom are better than the shouting of a ruler with authority, and wisdom is better than military strength.


  1. Discuss areas where human knowledge, even for the believer, is clearly limited and identify those areas where human knowledge, while still limited, is greater for the believer who is instructed by the Holy Spirit in the Scripture. Consider those areas of knowledge where you have grown through Bible study during the last year.


  1. Have your sacrificial good deeds been forgotten by those who you served and those around you? Have you expected to received the praise of men and been disappointed? Your faithful and authentic service to the Lord will be remembered and rewarded. People may forget you, but the Lord will not. Ephesians 6:7-8 says, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.”

Key Verses

  • “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going. Ecclesiastes 9:10
  • “Wisdom is better than strength . . . Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard rather than the shout of a ruler of fools . . . Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good. From Ecclesiastes 9:16-18

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