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 favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. (Eccl 9:11 ESV)Ecclesiastes is a difficult book. I found this sermon by Brian Morgan interesting. Here is a quote from it.
By stating that all of life is hebel (meaningless), Qohelet (the author) is not suggesting that all life is “meaningless or insignificant, but that everything is beyond human apprehension and comprehension.” Every time a tragedy occurs, our immediate reaction is to attach “meaning” to the event, as if we know how this finite moment in time will work out in the grand scheme of things. We have a very terrible time living in the tension of “unknowing.” We want rock bottom clarity. And when the event is extremely complex and baffling, we just babble on and on, hoping to land on some thought bordering on significance. But Qohelet explains that when we insist on multiplying our words to bring definition to what we do not know, all we succeed in doing is creating more “smoke” (hebel - “vanity,” “a puff of wind”), adding more contradiction and confusion. “The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?” (6:11 NIV).In summary, Ecclesiastes seems to state that fortuitous things and shit just happen. We are supposed to plug on, sowing seeds and reaping at appropriate times, but in the end, earthly endeavors don't amount to much. What is important is to simply obey God's commandments and trust that all will be revealed someday.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Eccl 12:13-14 ESV)In the end, Ecclesiastes poetically implores us to have blind faith admitting that on the surface of it, life seems pretty random but if we continue to have faith, we will eventually attain reward of an eternal life with meaning. It pushes fear of God's judgment should we not have blind faith. The beautiful writing of Ecclesiastes sugar coats this bitter pill.
Instead, I'll accept the Darwinian view that yes, life is random. Rewards (offspring) do not always go to the swiftest because being swift might come at other expenses (like not being charming or stupid -- either way, the result is not getting the babes). But bad things also happen to good people. It's called dumb luck, and that happens too. I don't have to trust that all will be revealed someday when my little human mind has had a few million years of hand-held tutoring by the Creator to finally be capable of understanding the answer to my question "What the fuck?"