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Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 – 'It’s a Chancy Job, and It Makes a Man Watchful...'


Sheriff Matt Dillon's introduction to each radio episode of Gunsmoke (the title used for this section) serves as a fitting summary. "Time and chance" happen to all; knowing that to be true is part of human wisdom.


This segment of Ecclesiastes expands Matt Dillon's observation to include all of life. Notice that 9:7-10 (see above) is placed between a reminder of human mortality in 9:1-6 and this recitation about the chanciness of human life in 9:11-12. Both sections remind us that we can never be in complete control of our lives. All humans are subject to the limits of life and the reality of death (9:1-6). And all humans are subject to the fortunes and misfortunes of time and chance.

Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

11 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 favour to the skilful; but time and chance happen to them all. 12For no one can anticipate the time of disaster. Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them.

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