Again 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 intelligent, nor favor to the men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.Ecclesiastes 9:11
THE RACE IS NOT TO THE SWIFT
NOR THE BATTLE TO THE STRONG
This passage, one of the most famous in Ecclesiastes, should be understood as dealing with unexpected exceptions to what may be generally expected.
It was an untimely rain that defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, and a purposeless bow-shot that slew Ahab.
All kinds of happenings may intervene to make:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Gang aft a-gley!
An’ lea’e us naught but grief and pain
For promised joy.
In the recent Olympic races, the swiftest runner, unanimously favored to win, suffered a fall; and another took the prize.
In his rebellious days, Solomon looked upon all such disappointments as more proof that, “all is vanity.”
“Time and chance happeneth to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
All kinds of unpredictable and uncontrollable events may, and frequently do, change good fortune into bad fortune, or vice versa.
There was a bare possibility that Paul had this verse in mind when he wrote, “So it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy” (Romans 9:16); but he pointed out that, Paul’s concept is far different from that here. Paul noted that God has mercy upon all mankind, but there is not a trace of any thought of God’s compassion here.