Ecclesiastes 9:4 states, “But anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!” This proverb contrasts the state of being alive, even in humble or lowly circumstances, with being dead. Even if someone is alive but considered insignificant, like a dog, they are still better off than a lion that is dead. This verse teaches that life itself is valuable and not to be squandered. Even in the midst of difficult circumstances, there is always hope when one has life.
Here are 9 reasons why a living dog is better than a dead lion according to the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 9:4:
- A living dog still has the chance to change and improve its circumstances, but a dead lion has no such opportunity.
- A living dog can still pursue dreams and goals, while a dead lion has lost all ambition.
- A living dog might influence or impact others, but a dead lion has no positive effect.
- A living dog can experience simple joys and pleasures of life like eating, playing, relaxing in the sun etc. A dead lion experiences nothing.
- A living dog still has purpose, even if just to guard a home, herd animals or provide companionship. A dead lion no longer serves any practical purpose.
- A living dog can form relationships and bonds with others. A dead lion is cut off from all companionship.
- A living dog’s situation could improve at any moment through an act of kindness or compassion. A dead lion’s state cannot be changed.
- A living dog appreciates life, even if humbly, while a dead lion has no concept of valuing existence.
- A living dog reminds us life is a gift. A dead lion signifies loss and that death can cut short plans and potential.
Simply put, the Ecclesiastes verse teaches that being alive gives possibilities, hope and meaning compared to the finality of death. Even if one’s current circumstances are difficult or limiting, life itself brings opportunities. A living dog still experiences emotion, can receive and give affection, and can find purpose in serving. Though the dog represents a lowly state in the metaphor, life in any condition is meaningful. The dead lion seems greater in reputation but death erases any acclaim. The living dog then represents the significance of living purposefully despite one’s station in life. The proverb counsels valuing life itself, as only the living can change course or redeem lost potential.
1. A Living Dog Can Change and Improve
Unlike a dead lion which is permanently frozen in its status, a living dog can actively change and improve its circumstances. Though its current state may be humble as a lowly dog, it can take steps to enhance its situation. Examples include a stray dog who becomes a beloved pet, a cowardly dog who finds bravery, or an unemployed dog who starts working. Where there is life, there is possibility for growth. People similarly can change course and find redemption when they resolve to pursue improvement. A living dog illustrates that point. Though its current standing may be unfavorable, like the dog, a person can intentionally take actions to better oneself when alive. Death closes the door to progress. But life keeps it open.
2. A Living Dog Can Pursue Dreams and Goals
Staying with the metaphor, a living dog is not static but can actively set goals and pursue dreams. That may include chasing squirrels, finding a family, learning tricks, or any aspirations that give its life direction and meaning. An alert, animated and engaged dog brings the point home vividly. As long as there is life, there is opportunity to discover purpose and passion. A dead lion has lost all spark and ambition. But a living dog reminds us that life fuels vision. Its enthusiasm conveys a lesson – to live every day with dreams and embrace the potential life offers. Using your days to pursue meaningful goals gives life richness, whatever your station may be.
3. A Living Dog Can Influence and Impact Others
A living, active dog touches human hearts through its playfulness, companionship and loyalty. People find motivation, comfort and even purpose by caring for a dependent pet. Studies show dogs improve emotional health, lower stress and bring joy to owners. Far beyond a dead lion whose glory is past, a humble dog changes lives through daily interactions. Its faithful presence and reliance on an owner cultivates responsibility, sacrifice and compassion. A dog’s unconditional devotion inspires people to willingly extend care. No matter how “insignificant,” a living dog influences others with its authentic reliance, enthusiasm and friendship. That becomes its greatness. Life offers opportunities to positively impact others’ lives in simple yet profound ways. A dead lion has no such power. But the living dog does.
4. A Living Dog Experiences Simple Joys and Pleasures of Life
Staying in the metaphor, a living dog savors and delights in the small pleasures of each day – eating favorite foods, napping in the sun, playing with toys, exploring new smells and sights on a walk, receiving a scratch behind the ears or experiencing an adventure. While limited in choices, the humble dog finds contentment and gratitude in life’s simple gifts. Its ready joy and engagement in the moment represent how life itself brings meaning. In contrast, the dead lion remains cold and unfeeling in the face of any delight. Centering oneself in the blessings of everyday experiences, at whatever station one may be in, cultivates satisfaction and peace with life as a gift. Livelihood may be modest, but the living find joy. For the dead there is nothing.
5. A Living Dog Still Has Purpose
Staying within the metaphor, a living dog, though humble, often has work and responsibilities that give its life meaning. Purposes include guarding a home, herding livestock, aiding the disabled, cheering the lonely or just companionship. A dog’s loyalty and obedience equip it for simple but life-enriching callings. In contrast, the dead lion no longer serves any useful function. While a living dog has limitations, it fulfills purpose through its dependence on and service to others. This metaphor applies to human experience. No matter one’s abilities, life offers meaning through purposeful service suited to one’s unique passions and skills. Even simple actions like volunteering, mentoring or brightening someone’s day can give lives rich purpose. Where there’s life, there’s opportunity for purposeful impact. Death means the loss of meaningful contribution.
6. A Living Dog Can Form Relationships and Bonds
Part of the richness of a dog’s life comes from the companionship, play and affection it shares with human and animal friends. The social bonds give life joy and meaning. Whether romping with other dogs or curling up with an owner, relationships amplify life. Death severs all relational ties. The living dog represents how life gains richness through bonds of friendship, teamwork and camaraderie. Humans flourish through close ties of trust, support and encouragement. Life allows time for cultivating relationships and walking alongside others on life’s journey. While the lonely lion missed this opportunity while alive, the humble but socially engaged dog daily experiences life’s greatest treasure – meaningful connections with others.
7. A Living Dog’s Situation Could Improve at Any Moment
A living dog illustrates the potential for sudden positive changes that life brings. A stray dog could be adopted into a loving home. A mistreated dog might be rescued by a kind person. An accident or illness could be treated by a veterinarian. For the living dog, each day offers possibilities for a changed life. The dead lion has no such hope. This reminds people that life is unpredictable and fortunes can turn in an instant through an act of compassion. While someone’s current situation may be difficult, an unforeseen job offer, reconciliation, healing or breakthrough could occur at any time. For the living, circumstances are fluid. The dead have no such possibilities. Thus there is always hope in life.
8. A Living Dog Appreciates Life More Than a Dead Lion
Though a dog lives more humbly than a lion, it often exhibits sheer joy for life’s simplest pleasures. Wagging its tail excitedly for a walk or treat, the happy dog models savoring and appreciating daily blessings. Its lowly state makes it grateful for every kindness. In contrast, the once-dominant lion took life for granted, evidenced by its inability to change course and avoid an early death. Thus the metaphor conveys that valuing life leads to greater fulfillment, no matter one’s station. People who maintain an attitude of gratitude, like the dog, experience life more abundantly. Every day offers meaning when seen as a gift. The dead lion is bereft of such riches. Therefore, appreciate life while you have it.
9. A Living Dog Reminds Us Life Is a Gift
The simple, joyful dog appreciating each moment represents life as a gift to be cherished. Its delight in basic needs met and modest pleasures shows that abundant living results from savoring what you have rather than bemoaning what you lack. The lifeless lion highlights the brevity and fragility of life. Therefore, the living dog serves as a daily reminder to value each moment you have. It represents living with passion, purpose and compassion. Its lowly state reminds us that life is not about power, possessions or status. Rather, fullness of life comes from loving, learning, serving and finding meaning each day. The dog models living with wholehearted engagement. It calls people to awaken to life’s blessings and redeem each moment, no matter their circumstances. For life itself is the great gift.
In summary, the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 9:4 recognizes the intrinsic value of life, even if ones’ current situation reflects the low status of a dog. The living dog has possibility, purpose and hope. It finds joy in relationships and simple pleasures. Its humble dependence and unconditional love bless and benefit others. For the living, each day offers redemption. While the accomplished but lifeless lion squandered life’s potential, the faithful dog lives fully and gratefully in the moment. Therefore, the metaphor calls people to appreciate life’s goodness and redeem each day regardless of status and limitations. For it is life itself that brings meaning and liberation. The text aptly notes that the living dog is better off than the dead lion. Therefore, acknowledge life as a gift and live fully, purposefully and passionately whatever your circumstances. For you have possibilities, purpose and hope only granted the living.