Ecclesiastes 7


‘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. 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. 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. Extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart. 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. 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.’ Ecclesiastes 7:1-12

Reputation Is Meaningless

Solomon here appears to write this chapter in the form of proverbs, each one is speaking about the wisdom concerning the good things for mankind in this life. He begins by speaking about our reputation, that is having a good reputation.

My wife likes to wear perfume from time to time and the smell really attracts me to her, Solomon says that the wise person is like perfume, they draw other people to them, which in turn opens opportunities for them. In other words, we’re to live such lives that are full and meaningful, rather than waste them foolishly.

I don’t know how many funerals I have presided over in the last few years, but one thing I always think about afterwards is that life is short and I should take it more seriously. Solomon says we never live long enough to do everything we wanted to do, there’s always one more soul to share the Gospel with, and there’s always one more person to study with.

In times of sorrow, we often take a step back and reflect upon our lives, what have we achieved, where we are at the moment, and where we plan to go. Crying is a God-given emotion which helps up in times of sorrow, and so anyone who is wise will always take like seriously.

There are two types of people in the world, the proud and the humble, whilst the proud like to hear how wonderful they are, the humble person will listen and take on advice. Many preachers are told they are great preachers, sadly some of those who tell them aren’t being completely truthful with them. The humble preacher will listen but give glory to God.

Some people just can’t help but give foolish advice to others, Solomon says they are like a quick-burning bush. In other words, it looks good at first, but it doesn’t last long enough to cook any food.

If anyone gives in to extortion or oppression, they become foolish, they become foolish simply because they have offered a bribe to someone in a high position in order to distort judgment, Exodus 23:8 / Proverbs 17:23.

Decision making should be taken seriously, especially big decisions in life, these are things which shouldn’t be rushed. When making any decision, we should consider the final goal and not just make a decision on the spur of the moment. A few people make the mistake of making a big decision whilst they are angry, sadly those decisions can lead us and take us into really bad situations which we didn’t really need to be in, in the first place.

We all know people who do nothing but moan and groan about the past. There’s nothing wrong with looking at our past as long as we learn from it, however, when a person is constantly looking back, constantly thinking about all the mistakes they have made, but never learned anything from them, the chances are, they will make bad decisions in the present.

When it comes to inheritance, most children think about money, cars, houses etc, but the wise parent will actually leave their child with the greatest inheritance gift of all, that is wisdom. A few people believe if they just do enough good deeds, give so much money every week to charity etc, they will be able to buy a relationship with God.

Solomon says that wealth and riches can’t buy a relationship with God, that relationship with God comes from wisdom because wisdom teaches us to submit to God and His ways, it’s only then can we have life and have it to the full, John 10:10.

‘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.’ Ecclesiastes 7:13-14

Those who believe and trust in God will not only rejoice when things are going well, they will rejoice when things are really tough, James 1:1-2. The reason for this is simple, those who believe and trust in God recognise that their wealth isn’t the foundation for their relationship with God.

The reason we live is to live for God, we recognise this is His world and accept that there will be times when life is going great and other times when life gets a little tougher. We don’t know our future but God knows everything, Revelation 21:6.

‘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. 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.’ Ecclesiastes 7:15-20

It’s all too easy for religious people to become self-righteous, in an effort to avoid becoming wicked. Solomon appears to be contrasting legal righteousness with immoral living.

We must remember that the rewards or the consequences that we experience in this life aren’t enough to determine the course of our lives. We will reap what we sow, Proverbs 11:18 / Galatians 6:8, however, the real reward for our behaviour in this life will be given on Judgement Day, Matthew 25:46 / 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9.

It’s certainly possible to be overly righteous, these are usually the people who refuse to look at themselves and judge everyone by their own standards, Matthew 7:5. It’s also possible to be overwicked, these are the foolish who live for wickedness.

We must be aware that we can’t deliberately keep on sinning, Hebrews 10:26. One way to prevent sin from entering our lives is to remember that we’re to fear God, we do this by obeying His commands. The balance here is for the righteous to remember that they too are sinners, Romans 3:9-10 / Romans 3:23.

It’s certainly possible to be overly wise, these are the people who are foolish because they have become conceited in their own wisdom, they have little or no time for anyone else, 1 Corinthians 8:1.

‘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.’ Ecclesiastes 7:21-22

I know a few people who just can’t handle criticism, when they receive any, they usually go off on one and get really angry. It’s only when we admit that we too have criticised others in the past, will we accept good constructive criticism from others.

‘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. 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.’ Ecclesiastes 7:23-26

Solomon says that he thought he had become wise, but he acknowledges that wisdom was way out of reach because having knowledge and the reality of all things was way beyond the reach of any human, Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 / Job 11:7-8. He’s simply saying that no one can have all wisdom because there is so much, it’s beyond our grasp.

Solomon says he was determined to be wise, which is good advice for us all because wisdom and knowledge will certainly help us live right for God and prevent us from following the madness of folly. It will certainly help us in this life and help us prepare for the life to come.

Solomon discovered something worse than death, he discovered that a woman who used her sexual charms to enslave the foolish, Revelation 2:20.

‘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.’ Ecclesiastes 7:27-29

The good news is that not all women would go out of their way to ensnare a man to omit sexual immorality, the bad news is that there were other women who would go out of their way to set a trap to ensnare the unwise.

Anyone who seeks to sin can easily do so with these women, even though they didn’t know it was a trap all along. We all have a tendency to be disobedient at times, rather than submitting to obedience to God.

All too often we take our eyes away from God and our minds begin to desire evil things, James 1:13-15. Sin is an ever-present danger in our lives and we give in to schemes of evil, we can be sure we will fall into all kinds of wickedness, 1 Corinthians 10:12.

Go To Ecclesiastes 8


"Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'"