TIME AND CHANCE HAPPEN TO THEM ALL – Ecclesiastes 9


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.

The swift usually win the race, and the battle usually goes to the strong, but not always!

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.”

Ecclesiastes 9:11 is another reason why the righteous sometimes suffer, whereas the wicked sometimes prosper and are honored.

“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.


He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.
Mark 16:16 ASV
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