Time and Chance

Posted by on June 21, 2015

Time and Chance

Ecclesiastes 9:11  (KJV)

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Consider first, the origin of our text, The book of Ecclesiastes (which I will refer to as “the book of man under the sun”) along with Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Lamentations is classed with the poetic books (or wisdom books in the Hebrew bible) and is attributed to King Solomon.

As such, we must recognize that Solomon was a backslidden preacher when this book was written. These words are the reasoning’s, searching’s, and findings of a natural man “under the sun,” a natural man seeking to satisfy his soul. -Finis Jenkins Dakes



The Hebrew word “eth” (pronounced “ayth”) is translated “time” in many instances of scripture,

Vines Dictionary

  1. Noun.

`et (H6256), “time; period of time; appointed time; proper time; season.” This word also appears in Phoenician, post-biblical Hebrew, Arabic (where the same radicals constitute a verb signifying “to appear”), and Akkadian (where these radicals form an adverb signifying “at the time when”). `Et appears about 290 times in the Bible and in all periods.

Basically this noun connotes “time” conceived as an opportunity or season

Now, taking the verse as a whole but dwelling specifically on the phrase “Time and Chance”

The Authorized King James Version (KJV) of the bible, and majority of the major translations translates it as “Time and Chance”,

The CEV (contemporary English Version)  translates as:- “bad luck“, while the Apostolic Bible Polyglot says: “for a season and a meeting shall meet with them all” Coverdale presented it as “time and fortune” while the catholic bible interpretations is “time and an end for all these things” Rotherham’s emphasized bible stated it as “time and accident happened to them all”.

thus we have: Time, season + chance, accident, an end, luck, meeting


In everything that a man does, his success or failures are determined by time (among other factors), that is, is it the right time, the right season – time; period of time; appointed time; proper time; season.

Ecc 3, 2King 4.16-17, Gal 4:4; Eph 1:10, Ps. 33:16-19; Rom. 9:16

If you plant a seed let’s say corn in dry season, would it grow but planted in the right season it grows and brings forth fruit.


God alone, however, knows and reveals such “appointed times”:

 “…In the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the Lord” ( Jer 8:12).

“It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law” ( Psa 119:126).

“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time…” ( Ecc 3:11; cf.  Psa 104:27).


There is a common saying; man proposes but God disposes,

Man can plan, study, scheme, go for training and drills, practice etc, but yet, it is God that determines whether a thing prospers or not.

O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. (Jer 10:23)

However, God as He pleases does give revelations, understanding of the times and seasons to those whom He pleases.

And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment. (1Chr 12:32)

Dan 2.21, Acts 1.7, 1 Thes 5.11, Est 1.13

Joseph was given understanding when to plant and when to store, Daniel was given understanding, etc



Having talked on “Time and Season” it has been shown that only God is in total control over the situations and circumstances that affects the lives of all men. What we refer therefore to as chance, accidents are actually divine planning.

Take a look at the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:31). “It was not by chance that the priest came down by that road at that time, but by a specific arrangement and in exact fulfilment of a plan; not the plan of the priest, nor the plan of the wounded traveller, but the plan of God. By coincidence (Gr. sungkuria) the priest came down, that is, by the conjunction of two things, in fact, which were previously constituted a pair in the providence of God. In the result they fell together according to the omniscient Designer’s plan. This is the true theory of the divine government.” Compare the meeting of Philip with the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26, 27). There is no “chance, accident” in God’s empire. “Chance” is only another word for our want of knowledge as to the way in which one event falls in with another (1 Sam. 6:9; Eccl. 9:11).


A personal example:-

I applied to a college in Ireland in 1997, sent my documents and school fees deposits etc.

I was waiting for the reply for my acceptance.

The secretary had made a mistake in addressing the letter. She wrote Box 1982 Agege Lagos instead of Box 1932 Agege Lagos.

A few days to the arrival of the letter, a member of my parish in Victoria Island Lagos just concluded the rental of the post office box 1982 Agege Lagos.

She came to me in church one day and asked me if I was expecting any letters from Ireland, I said yes, wondering where she got the information from, and also asked when did she give me her new postal address?

“Incidentally” The first letter she got from that box was my acceptance letter. What is that for chance.


– John Gills exposition of the bible

but time and chance happeneth to them all; to the swift and strong, the wise, understanding, and skilful; or to the swift and slow, to the strong and weak, to the wise and unwise; everything befalls them just as it is ordered by divine Providence; for there is a certain “time” fixed by the Lord for every event; and whatever seems casual and contingent to man, and which he is ready to call “chance”, is noticing but “decree” with God, firm and unalterable; Plato {e} has the same expression. The word signifies “occurrence” {f}, or event, which is under the wise direction and order of the providence of God, with respect to whom nothing comes by chance; and it is rendered “occurrent”, 1Ki 5:4; and so it is here, by the Septuagint version, “occurrence” or “event”; and in the Targum, event by their star, which is fate: and Aben Ezra interprets it המערכה עליונה, the “superior ordination”; it is something we meet, or meets us, by divine appointment.

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