Ecclesiastes: 7:1-5;8-10: 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 every man; the living should take this to heart. Sorrow 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 head a wise man’s rebuke than to listen to the song of fools. 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.
The author of the book of Ecclesiastes may have been King Solomon, or it could have been someone who was considered a teacher or a subject, rather than a King. The importance of this writing is found in the profound wisdom of the writer, as he examines our own human experiences. The author searches deeply into our time on earth and concludes that all of our hard work and busyness is, in the end, “meaningless.”
The NIV study Bible gives us further insight into what wisdom has taught the writer of this book. In the introduction to the book of Ecclesiastes, the writer lists seven important lessons that he has learned from wisdom.
Humans cannot by all their striving achieve anything of ultimate or enduring significance, they cannot fundamentally change anything. This often causes us to act foolishly. All of our striving, “under the sun”, leads only to disillusionment.
Wisdom is better than folly – it is God’s gift to those who please him. It is needless to expect too much even from such wisdom – to expect that human wisdom is capable of solving all problems.
Experience confronts humans with many apparent disharmonies and anomalies that wisdom cannot unravel. Of these, the greatest of all is this: Human life comes to the same end as that of the animals – death.
Although God made humankind upright, people have gone in search of many “schemes” for getting ahead by taking advantage of others. The author says that even humans are a disappointment.
People cannot know or control what will come after them, or even what lies in the more immediate future.
God keeps humans in their place.
God has ordered all things and a human being cannot change God’s appointments or fully understand them or anticipate them. The world is not fundamentally chaotic or irrational. It is ordered by God, and it is for humans to accept matters as they are by God’s appointments, including our own human limitations. Everything has its “time” and is good in its time.
Wisdom is attempting to teach us to:
Accept the human state as it is shaped by God’s appointments and enjoy the life you have been given as fully as you can.
Don’t trouble yourself with unrealistic goals – we must know the degree of our human capabilities.
Be prudent in all your ways – follow wisdom’s leading.
“Fear God and keep his commandments” (12:13), beginning in your youth before the fleeting days of life’s enjoyments are gone and “the days of trouble” (12:1) come when the infirmities of advanced age vex you and hinder you from the good things of life.
Source used: NIV Study Bible, page 1005-1006, Introduction to Ecclesiastes.
Over the next few weeks I will be doing a devotional on different scripture from the book of Ecclesiastes. I believe that there are many truths in this book that are useful and necessary for us in our daily walk with God.
The writer ends the book with this conclusion: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (12:13b-14).