Read Ecclesiastes 7
7 A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of death better than the day of birth.
2 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.
3 Frustration is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
5 It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person
than to listen to the song of fools.
6 Like the crackling of thorns under the pot,
so is the laughter of fools.
This too is meaningless.
7 Extortion turns a wise person into a fool,
and a bribe corrupts the heart.
8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.
9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools.
10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
For it is not wise to ask such questions.
11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing
and benefits those who see the sun.
12 Wisdom is a shelter
as money is a shelter,
but the advantage of knowledge is this:
Wisdom preserves those who have it.
13 Consider what God has done:
Who can straighten
what he has made crooked?
14 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.
15 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.
16 Do not be overrighteous,
neither be overwise—
why destroy yourself?
17 Do not be overwicked,
and do not be a fool—
why die before your time?
18 It is good to grasp the one
and not let go of the other.
Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.
19 Wisdom makes one wise person more powerful
than ten rulers in a city.
20 Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous,
no one who does what is right and never sins.
21 Do not pay attention to every word people say,
or you may hear your servant cursing you—
22 for you know in your heart
that many times you yourself have cursed others.
23 All this I tested by wisdom and I said,
“I am determined to be wise”—
but this was beyond me.
24 Whatever exists is far off and most profound—
who can discover it?
25 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.
26 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.
27 “Look,” says the Teacher, “this is what I have discovered:
“Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things—
28 while I was still searching
but not finding—
I found one upright man among a thousand,
but not one upright woman among them all.
29 This only have I found:
God created mankind upright,
but they have gone in search of many schemes.”
At first glance, this chapter might feel long and wordy. Like most chapters in Ecclesiastes, there are several themes that Solomon is driving home. Let’s look at a few. When we first read verses 1-4, it can feel confusing and sobering. Solomon says that it is better to grapple with one’s mortality than to be fooled into thinking that one lasts forever. Think about how countercultural this message is–especially for our culture. We do not like sad things, so we constantly look to escape. “Do whatever makes you happy!” But, if you are a believer in Jesus, there is a great joy that comes from knowing one’s mortality. Just think about it: One day we will die and there will be an end to all toil, weariness, and sin and we will be eternally satisfied in the presence of Jesus Christ. Joy doesn’t come from avoiding sad feelings, but from the eternal hope we have in Jesus in the midst of them.
The chapter ends in verse 29 by saying, “God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes” (v. 29). The point Solomon is making here is not that people have simply turned to sin, but that they have sought out many other explanations of what God is doing around them. Here, Solomon was talking about God’s plan–they were struggling to see how God was at work (or even believe that He was working). They lacked the faith necessary to trust that God’s ways were better than their own.
So what are we to take away from a passage like this? Seeing the end makes the things that are under the sun not bad, but far less important than we think they are. On the flip side, knowing God is far more important than we grasp it to be. This life was given as a gift from God and is not to be used as a vessel of wrath, but of righteousness. True wisdom is trusting the One that is wiser (God) in the day of prosperity and in the day of adversity because God has made the one as well as the other. We have the opportunity to trust God in faith and know that He is working all around us at all times, regardless of if it feels like it or not.
So today, do not be discouraged, but remember God’s character in all situations. Remember the call that he has given us as Christians to go and make disciples of all nations, and hold all things in this life loosely because God is working all around us.
- What characteristic of God stands out to you today that will be constant in all your circumstances today?
- How are you going to keep the end in mind when it comes to temptation and hard times?
- Who is someone in your life that you can share what you learned from Ecclesiastes 7 with today?
By the Way
We have the benefit of reading the end of this passage with Romans 8:28 in mind:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Harris Creek Sermon
Here is the sermon from Harris Creek’s Ecclesiastes series based on a different part of this chapter “The Search for Meaning: A Wise Perspective in Problems”.
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