Living Dogs and Dead Lions

Ecclesiastes 9:4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

 

I. The Context

 

A. The Control of the Lord – vs. 1

Solomon points out that after much consideration, he has concluded that God is in charge.

Many people struggle to reconcile the choices of man with the sovereignty of God.

  • Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

 

B. The Cycle of Life – vs. 2, 3

All things come alike to all.

Good things and bad things happen to everybody.

  • Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

It is very foolish for you to think that everything bad happens to you.

 

C. The Consolation of the Living – vs. 4-6

To him that is joined to (involved with; connected to) all the living there is hope.

HOPE: trust, confidence, hope

 

II. The Contrasts

There’s a huge difference in a dog and a lion.

Let’s look at a few:

  • There is a contrast in their SIZE – a male lion is about 9 feet long and weighs between 350 and 400 lbs.
  • There is a contrast in their STRENGTH – Lions are known as the king of the jungle; they can run at speeds of 30 mph, jump vertically 12 feet and horizontally about 36 feet
  • There is a contrast in their STATUS – lions are somewhat endangered and relatively scarce in comparison to dogs: As of this writing, approximately 42.5 million households in the U.S. own one or more dogs and the total number of dogs in the country is in excess of 73 million. There are at least 525 million dogs on our planet. In contrast, there is only a little over 20,000 lions on the planet.

Lions are a trophy to big-game hunters.

Lions are considered very valuable.

  • Although lions are costly to local communities and private landholders especially those who raise livestock, these renowned predators are very valuable economic assets. Economists have estimated the value of a single male lion in Amboseli National Park in relation to tourism activities at over $500,000 during the course of the animal’s lifetime. More recent estimates suggest that Kenya’s remaining lions may be worth over $30 million annually. Lions and the revenue they generate constitute about 10% of Kenya’s annual GDP.

 

III. The Comparison

I believe Solomon was making an analogy here that goes much deeper than dogs and lions.

The key words in this verse is LIVING and DEAD.

Solomon makes a comparison by saying the word “better”.

Solomon’s wisdom caused him to make the statement: living dogs are better than dead lions.

I believe he was weighing in how people respond to things that happen to them.

 

The lion here could be a symbol of THE PAST

This lion could symbolize something that we valued from our past.

This lion could symbolize something amazing that we experienced at some point in our life.

This lion could symbolize a friendship, relationship, position, possession, or life from the past.

Solomon is trying to help us put things into perspective.

We can get so busy missing the lion that is dead, that we fail to enjoy the dog that we still have.

 

How many people can’t enjoy church because it is different than it used to be?

How many people can’t love their family because they can’t let go of the family members that are gone?

How many people can’t serve God not because someone hurt them in the past?

How many people won’t try to do something for God because they can’t do what they used to do?

How many people are miserable because they’d rather have a dead lion than a living dog?

How many people can’t enjoy life as a single person because they want to be married so badly?

 

The lion here could be a symbol of A POSSIBILITY

Some people can’t enjoy the living dog because they are looking for a lion that will never happen.

It is a dead lion – a hope; an imagination; a dream; a mirage

 

QUESTION: If you got your hands on a lion, what would you do with it?

FACT: You couldn’t handle a living lion! It would tear you to pieces.

Sometimes the very thing you want would be your destruction if God let you have it.

EXAMPLE:

Many people leave their spouse thinking the next one will be better. It isn’t. It’s a dead lion.

Some people leave their church thinking they can serve God better at another one.

They can’t. It’s a dead lion. (Most people that leave a church for a dead lion usually end up dying.) You will do at the next church just what you are doing here at this church.

If you are miserable and gossiping here, you will do it there.

Parents pull their kids out of this school because they think the school down the road is better.

Many people can’t enjoy God’s blessings in their life because they want something that will never happen.

They won’t do their best at the current job because they want to work someplace else.

They can’t be content with what they DO have because of all the things they DON’T have.

 

Conclusion: The moral of the story is found in verse 4, and 5.

The living dog has two things that a dead lion does not have.

  1. Hope – if you are involved with a living dog, there is always hope; they still have time
  2. Reward – there is no reward in a dead lion. It is completely worthless.