-The practical counsel of a wise man looking back on the things he’s learned in life by observation of a marred world continues in chapter seven. He contrasts the wise and the foolish as he weaves his way through some diverse and common themes. Solomon begins with the fact that a good name is better than good ointment. In other words, it does a person well to keep a good reputation in society. The day of one’s death is considered better than the day of one’s birth for one of two reasons. He may be looking forward to the afterlife of the faithful in the LORD as their reward, or he could be alluding to the fact that life is hard in this broken and cursed world where we exist with pain and trauma. Wisdom is found in the following words, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart.” Contemplation concerning the eternal things happen in the house of mourning, when death is making us aware of our temporal state on this earth. It goes squarely against some of his worldly wisdom that has been previously considered (Ecclesiastes 2:24; 5:18; 8:15). Sorrow, the Preacher says, can be better than laughter, because a sad face may indicate a more healthy and happy heart since grief has been dealt with properly rather than ignored or suppressed. The mind of the wise resides in the house of the mourning, while the mind of the fool is in the house of pleasure (Ecclesiastes 7:1-4).
-Rebukes now get some run as a theme. It is better to listen carefully and responsively to the reprimands of a wise person than to listen to “the song of fools.” The laughter of a fool is short-sighted like the “crackling of thorn bushes under a pot.” It is futile (Ecclesiastes 7:5-6).
-Oppression makes even the wise mad, and a bride corrupts the heart. The end of a matter is better than the beginning of it. Patience in one’s spirit is far better than haughtiness of spirit. Solomon tells his audience in wisdom to not be eager in our heart to be angry. Why? Because worldly anger resides only in the bosom of fools (James 1:20). Looking back to the “good old days” is not of wisdom. Current conditions are probably as good, if not better, and human memory tends to think back only to the positive in nostalgia. An inheritance is fine as long as it has wisdom with it, plus it is an advantage to those who see the sun. Solomon must have been an outdoorsman, not to mention the health benefits we now know come from Vitamin D. Wisdom is protection, so is money, and “the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors.” Solomon goes on to announce that we should consider the work of God, asking, “For who is able to straighten what He has bent?” God is in utter control, and no one can even attempt to thwart His transcendent plans and purposes. In the day of prosperity, we should be happy. But, in the day of adversity, we need to consider that God has made one as well as the other. Another way of saying this is to say that the LORD has great purposes in suffering as He draws us to Himself and redeems all that’s wrong. Man has a hard time discovering this concept though, because of our temporal and hardened mindset (Ecclesiastes 7:7-14).
-The Preacher goes on to tells us that he’s seen everything during his lifetime of futility. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and also a wicked man who prolongs his days in his wickedness. There seems, for a time at least, to be no real justice in the world. Because of this carnal attitude, Solomon concludes that humans need not be excessively righteous nor overly wise. That would ruin some worldly pleasures just as much as being excessively wicked and foolish, which kill people before their time. God will send His rain on the just and unjust (Matthew 5:45). This is biblical, but mysterious. It is His righteousness that saves us, not our own. Therefore, the wise man concludes that it is good to grasp one thing and also not let go of the other, “for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them (meaning good times and bad times in life I believe).” It is wisdom that affords a person to have more strength than ten rulers of a city. “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins (Ecclesiastes 7:15-20, Romans 3:23).”
-Also, it is important for the wise person not to take seriously all words which are spoken. Otherwise, we may find even those far beneath us cursing us, which is absurd and should not be received when it is unfounded. We have cursed others many times ourselves, and we need to realize the uselessness of such accusations and demeaning words. We need to speak life is what I believe the Preacher is getting at here. All in all, Solomon begins to realize himself that even in the testing of all this wisdom that he is coming short of perfection and that total righteousness was far from him. The past is remote and exceedingly mysterious, and he wonders who can discover it? He directed his mind to know, investigate, seek wisdom, and find explanation for all the folly of evil and the foolishness of madness. What he discovered was that the woman whose heart is snares and nets and hands are chains is more bitter than death. “One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her.” Through all his life he sought out good people, using hyperbole to say maybe “one man among a thousand,” but he had not found a woman who was good at all among all these. All he had found was that mankind has sought out many wicked devices even though God originally created them to be upright (Ecclesiastes 7:21-29).
-*Application* Our sin nature keeps us from proper relationship with God until that point and time when the Son shines His loving Light on us by seeking us lost people out (1 John 4:19). Otherwise, we have no chance. He calls out for us to come home by His grace, mercy, and compassion. God never desires for us to perish, or be disillusioned (Ezekiel 18:23, 1 Timothy 2:3-5, 2 Peter 3:9). He instead wants to bring clarity to the mysteries of this fallen world through His redemptive acts. Sometimes it is even the house of mourning that brings us to that place. Trust Him today!
Verses to Memorize: Ecclesiastes 7:2, 9, 14, 21