What Does Ecclesiastes 9:12 Mean?

Moreover, man does not know his time: like fish caught in a treacherous net and birds trapped in a snare, so the sons of men are ensnared at an evil time when it suddenly falls on them.

Ecclesiastes 9:12(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

It was most likely king Solomon who penned the unusual book of Ecclesiastes. God granted the young king the gift of wisdom and discernment, and there is much in his writing that pertain to the value of acquiring godly wisdom. But as one traces the life of this famous and fabulously wealthy king, through Scripture, we discover that he did not always make the wisest choices in his own life, as king of Israel.

During his life, Solomon used his position, power and prosperity, in an effort to discover the meaning of life. He did this by exploring many different avenues of productive employment and trivial entertainment, but he foolishly strove to do this by his own, human effort, instead of trusting the Lord to guard his heart and guide his steps. However, the resounding result of his in-depth search into the mysteries of life, which he recorded in the little book of Ecclesiastes, was that without God everything in life was meaningless.

In his search, Solomon discovered that one's labour is often motivated by inappropriate incentives.. and that fleshly passion are fleeting and futile. He discovered that the pursuit of politics and religiosity are vain and valueless, and that the cycle of life and death is unaffected by a man's position, power, prosperity or poverty, for all are destined to die. He even considered that being dishonoured in life is better than being celebrated after death - suggesting that he would rather be a living dog than a dead lion!!!

In chapter 9, Solomon notes the many injustices in life, and bitterly complains that it is not always the swiftest runner that wins a race nor the strongest army that triumphs on the battle field. He protests that it is not always the wise and intelligent individual that has food on the table and money in their pocket, and laments that skilled workers are not always given the recognition they justly deserve.

And so, in this verse, he draws a comparison of human injustices. with little fish, which are caught in a treacherous net - and likens them to birds, who become entrapped in some hidden snare, Solomon likens the fisherman's net and the hunter's snare to the many injustices he has observed, into which men can so easily become ensnared. He realised that time and tide wait for no man, and that chance opportunities can never be predicted - bringing all their strivings to naught.

Throughout his entire dialogue, Solomon demonstrated that human effort is futile and that nothing in this life has any permanence or lasting security, but behind all of his research, we are enabled to see that history of man's failure, through self-effort and human pride, happens.. because God is excluded from men's lives, causing them to be ignorant of His plans and purposes for humanity.

The entire book of Ecclesiastes appears to cover how the injustices and disadvantages of life are common to all people, and that no one escapes the final consequences of birth into the human race - which is death. But through it all Solomon is able to reach a conclusion,, which finally acknowledges the necessity to stop self-strivings, to fear God and to allow Him to guard our heart and guide our steps.

The important lesson of Ecclesiastes is that no amount of learning, experience, wealth, privilege or power can compare with the secure position we have in Christ - but that when wisdom, skill, prosperity and power are under God's influence, and subject to His control, then life has meaning - as God is placed in His rightful position in our heart and life.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You that my life has meaning in Christ, for without Him I am nothing. Help me not to chase after the wind and engage in futile matters that have no permanence or lasting security. Thank You that in Christ I have all I need to make my life meaningful and productive, and I pray that in all I say and do, my life may be lived to honour You, and to glorify Your holy name. This I ask in Jesus name. AMEN.

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