This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.
Today we are looking a verse requiring context in a chapter with the following heading or title A Common Destiny for All in the NIV, Death Comes to All in the ESV, The Same Fate-Death-Awaits Everyone in the LEB, Is Death Fair in the EXB, Men are in the Hand of God in the NASB, and finally Take Life as it Comes in the NRSV. Why look at all these headings or titles? Perhaps they provide the first context for the verses that follow and most are clearly about death in summary form.
But let’s get more context and look at the first two verses as well.
1 So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them. 2 All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good, so with the sinful; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them.
So now we see verse three, at least the first part is a summation of the two prior verses. However, verse one is addressing the end of chapter eight which ended with the following two humbling verses
16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the labor that is done on earth, people getting no sleep day or night 17 then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it.
So now we return to verse three and we can surely understand how The same destiny overtakes all, but what about there being evil in everything that happens under the sun? Frankly, this is disagreeable to me, but the truth of it may be found here
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. Psalm 73
And further a verse we recently looked at
When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong. Ecclesiastes 8:11
Thus our sin nature is always there if nothing else in the background waiting for an opportunity to come forth in our lives. The rest of the verse is built around this conclusion. Still there is hope as revealed in the Geneva Bible’s note to this verse
In outward things, as riches and poverty, sickness and health, there is no difference between the godly and the wicked: but the difference is that the godly are assured by faith of God’s favor and assistance
Which ties in very closely to Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
As far as the sons of men are left to themselves, their hearts are full of evil; and prosperity in sin, causes them even to set God at defiance by daring wickedness. Though, on this side of death, the righteous and the wicked may often seem to fare alike, on the other side there will be a vast difference between them.
All too often we take the short view, looking only on this side of death. Taking the long view gives great hope in spite of that takes place in everyone’s lives. Spend time in prayer, spend time in your Bible, spend time in fellowship with other believers who are also taking the long view. They will all help.