We will now begin the seventh chapter of Ecclesiastes.
7:1-2 “A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.”
- Solomon starts a section in which he explains things that are better than others. In this case, a good name is better than perfume because a name lasts forever. While perfume lasts a little while and then disappears. The day of death is better than birth because the suffering on earth is done, and for the one who is born it is just beginning. A house of mourning is better because they realize the reality of life. If all we do is celebrate we are blind to reality, and we should realize this.
7:3-4 “Frustration is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.”
- Again realization of life is key to these verses. The wise know what’s going on, but all the fools think about is pleasure. Everything must be in balance. As Solomon has stated before, there is a time for everything.
7:5-6 “It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools. Like the crackling of thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of fools. This too is meaningless.”
- Even though we would rather listen to a song, than to listen to someone rebuke us, it is better for us to listen to the wise one who rebukes us. A song of a fool may sound sweet and gentle, but hold useless meaning. The crackling of thorns would not have been a pleasant sound to the ear, and so it is of a fool’s laughter.
7:7 “Extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart.”
- A bribe corrupts the heart in such a way that the heart turns greedy, especially for money. Extortion does the same, and it can turn even the wisest person into a fool.
7:8-9 “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”
- The end of a matter is better than its beginning because the matter is resolved. Patience plays a role in resolving matters, and if we wait patiently through situations the end will be sweeter. Anger will only make matters worse.
7:10-12 “Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions. Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun. Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it.”
- We should not say, that the old days were better than the present days, because they weren’t. Each time period, however you divide them, had it’s struggles. Wisdom is a good thing and greatly benefits those who have it. Knowledge and wisdom go hand in hand, and wisdom preserves knowledge because the usage of knowledge is wisdom.
7:13-14 “Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.”
- What God has done can never be undone or changed (Eccl. 1:15), unless done so by God. Solomon again reminds us that our power is limited, and so is our knowledge of our future. When good things arise, enjoy them. When bad things arise, think and pray about the situation, because God is in control.
7:15-18 “ In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: the righteous perishing in their righteousness, and the wicked living long in their wickedness. Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise- why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool- why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.”
- Solomon says that he has seen both the righteous dying for their righteousness and the wicked live longer in their wickedness. But he also warns about being too extreme in one area over the other. God will keep us in check by not letting us be a fool, but also not letting us think we know it all.
7:19-22 “Wisdom makes one wise person more powerful than ten rulers in a city. Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins. Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you- for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.“
- No matter how many fools you have, wisdom will make one wise person more powerful than any number of fools. Solomon also states that there is no one righteous on earth, and that’s why we need wisdom. The last part of these verses discuss gossip. He warns us not to listen to other people who cursed us, and to not let it go to our heads. Why? Because we probably have cursed others as well.
7:23- 25 “All this I tested by wisdom and I said, “I am determined to be wise”-but this was beyond me. Whatever exists is far off and most profound-who can discover it? So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly.”
- King Solomon makes some good points here. The first is that no one can know everything, it is impossible with our human capabilities to know absolutely everything. The second is that the limitation doesn’t have to stop us from trying to understand why things are the way they are.
7:26-29 “I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare. “Look,” says the Teacher, “this is what I have discovered: “Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things-while I was still searching but not finding- I found one upright man among a thousand, but not one upright woman among them all. This only have I found: God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes.”
- We can never interpret or understand everything we see. God created mankind to be righteous but we have always been in search for more. We are always investigating and looking for better things, and trying to understand how and why things happen. Sometimes searching for more isn’t always good. Sometimes we need to let God be in control because he is all-knowing.
This concludes the seventh chapter of Ecclesiastes.