ECCLESIASTES 6 Ė 7
Tonight we will be covering two chapters because chapter 6 is short and has a similar message we have heard before. It is a dark chapter that emphasizes how our lives without God is simply not worth living. We should use the words found in this chapter to remind us what our lives would be like if we choose to live them without God.
Ecclesiastes 6:1 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men:† 2 A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil affliction.
Like the rich man Jesus talked about in Luke 12, who had so many goods that he planned on building bigger barns, he found out that he was not going to sit back and take his ease because he was going to die. Again, this is pointing out how those who think that money is going to be solution to all their problems are wrong because death or someone coming and stealing your wealth can happen, which is why we must always make heaven our treasure. This text also speaks of how we should be satisfied and appreciate what God has given us.
Ecclesiastes 6:3 If a man begets a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he --† 4 for it comes in vanity and departs in darkness, and its name is covered with darkness.† 5 Though it has not seen the sun or known anything, this has more rest than that man,† 6 even if he lives a thousand years twice -- but has not seen goodness. Do not all go to one place?
Again, if a man cannot appreciate the family God has blessed him with, it would be just as bad as not having a proper burial. During ancient times having a proper burial was extremely important, but we know as Christians that it does not matter what happens to our bodies because man can destroy it, but they cannot touch our spirit, which belongs to God.
Those who do not appreciate what God has blessed them with are worse off than a stillborn. The stillborn never has to deal with ups and downs of life and even though he has never seen the sun, at least he is at rest. Even if a man is able to live for 2000 years, but does not have God in his life and never appreciates the blessing He has received from God, it will be life without meaning, but the end result is that the man will end up the grave just as the stillborn.
Ecclesiastes 6:7 All the labor of man is for his mouth, And yet the soul is not satisfied.† 8 For what more has the wise man than the fool? What does the poor man have, Who knows how to walk before the living?† 9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
The basic idea here is that man does not live by bread alone and it cannot ever fully satisfy you. When God is not in the picture there is no advantage in the end for the fool or the wise. Then verse 9 speaks about being content with what is front of your face because when you long and desire for those things that are not yours, then you will never be satisfied with what you have. An example of this would be a man having a wife that he could be† satisfied if he would stop longing in his heart for some other woman that is not his own. Doing this is vanity and grasping for the wind.
Ecclesiastes 6:10 Whatever one is, he has been named already, For it is known that he is man; And he cannot contend with Him who is mightier than he.†
What Solomon says here reminds of what Paul wrote in:
Romans 9:20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?"† 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
Who we are and what we can do is already known by God and we cannot argue with God about it. Instead, we must be thankful for who we are what we can do and make the most of it.
11 Since there are many things that increase vanity, How is man the better?† 12 For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun?
Without God in the picture, the life of man and his endless pursuits will pile up and man is not any better off. While man can share with you some wisdom on how to make things easier in your life and how to be healthier and things like that, they cannot teach you the things only God can teach you. For example, man cannot tell you about what happens after you die because they do not know. So many questions about life go unanswered when we just rely on human wisdom, but if we are willing, we can learn a lot about the meaning of life and know that there is life after death when we learn from Godís wisdom.
Next, we move on the Chapter 7 in which we see Solomon talking about how one thing is better than another.
Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment, And the day of death than the day of one's birth;†
A good name is speaking of someone who is honorable, someone who gain the respect of those around them. When one lives his life in such a manner, this characteristic is far greater than the smell or worth of a precious ointment. The day of death being better than the day of oneís birth is being presented by Solomon in the same way he has presented it before when God is not in the picture. Basically he is saying, when man dies, he no longer has to contend with the vanity of life.
When we think about this saying from the perspective as Christian with God in our lives, we can see the truth in that saying. Yes, our birth is great, but if we obey the gospel and live our life for God, then we can know that day we die whether young or old will be something glorious.
Revelation 14:13 Ö ††'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' " "Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them."
Or as Paul said:
Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.† 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.† 23 For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
So, as faithful Christians, the day of death is better than the day of our birth.
2 Better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting, For that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart.† 3 Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.† 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
All 3 of these verses are comparing the same thing: happiness and sadness. Why is better to go the house of mourning? It is because the living takes it to heart. It becomes a time of reflection because when someone dies, it makes you realize that you are going to die one day as well. It also causes you to examine how you dealt with that person and how that person lived his life. A lot of soul searching goes on in a house of mourning and many times it causes people to change their ways.
However, when it comes to having feasts of joy and times of happiness, people tend not to learn much because their minds are free, and they just enjoy the moment. People do not usually have life changing moments in times of bliss, which is why the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting. Of course, this does not mean that we should seek to be in a continual state of mourning and never enjoy the house of feasting, it just simply shows that the house of mourning is better at changing our lives for the better as opposed to the house of feasting.
Ecclesiastes 7:5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise Than for a man to hear the song of fools.† 6 For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, So is the laughter of the fool. This also is vanity.† 7 Surely oppression destroys a wise man's reason, And a bribe debases the heart.
Solomon speaks against the song of fools, laughter of fools, and the behavior of fools. Many times people have tendency to want to listen to the words of the unwise who make them feel better about their sin, but as Christians, we have got to understand that is far better for us to receive the rebuke of the wise. Yes, it will sting, but is far better to hear the truth that can get us back on the right path with God, then allowing yourself to feel good as you travel down the broad road that leads to hell.
Verse 6 is pun. It basically saying the laughter of a fool is like crackling thorns under pot. They might make a lot of noise and flare up the fire, but they quickly disappear and offer no help at heating up the pot.
To help see the meaning of verse 7 better, I want to show 2 other translations of the text:
ESV Ecclesiastes 7:7 Surely oppression drives the wise into madness, and a bribe corrupts the heart.
NIV Ecclesiastes 7:7 Extortion turns a wise man into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart.
Basically, it is saying that extortion can turn a wise man into fool whether he is the one doing it or if it is being done to him. The wise can also be turned into fools if they start offering or accepting bribes to cover up things or to get their way. Both Isaiah and Solomon speak against the evils of bribes (Isa. 33:15, Prov. 15:27).
Ecclesiastes 7:8 The end of a thing is better than its beginning; The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.† 9 Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.† 10 Do not say, "Why were the former days better than these?" For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.
There a many applications we could make from the beginning of verse 8.
For example, as we have already talked about oneís death is better than his birth. We can also see this in projects that we start. While is fun to begin something, it is more satisfying once you complete it.
Certainly we can all agree that a patient spirit is superior to a proud spirit because a proud spirit can lead you down the sinful pathway, but a patient spirit will cause you to endure and better at handling life. For example, verse 9 tells us not to have a spirit of anger. This can be very difficult for some. It is easy to fly of the handle and do things and say things you will later regret, but when we can teach ourselves the spirit of patience, our lives will be much better off. Those of us who have trouble with anger must realize that if we donít continue to work on controlling it then we become just like the foolish.
Solomon also says that those who focus on the past and think on how much better it was is not wise because we should be thinking about today. Now there is nothing wrong with remembering the good things of our past, but we must not allow our thoughts to linger on it so that we concentrate on today and enjoy the day that God has blessed us with. As Paul said:
Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,† 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Ecclesiastes 7:11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance, And profitable to those who see the sun.† 12 For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.
There is a big difference between someone who receives an inheritance and uses wisdom and one who does not. The one who is wise will use what has been given to him in wise manner, and he can make the inheritance ever more profitable, but a fool will spend it all foolishly.†
From verse 12, we could say, yes money can build you a great fortress to protect you, but wisdom will give you the steps you need to take to keep the fortress secured. There is great advantage in knowing how to use the knowledge you have. When you use such wisdom, your life will be better than that of a fool.
Ecclesiastes 7:13 Consider the work of God; For who can make straight what He has made crooked?†
What God has set in place cannot be undone by man no matter how hard they try.
Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Man might convince themselves that things like adultery, homosexuality, greed, and every other sin are acceptable to do and that God will overlook that sin, but the truth of the matter is that God has not changed and will change His mind about what He has said is sinful. Those who continue to be wise in their own eyes are going to find out one day that their wisdom was foolishness. Let us never forget, that we cannot and never will be able to change what God has taught us in His Word by how we feel in heart of hearts.
14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, So that man can find out nothing that will come after him.
You and I do not know
what is going to happen in the future. However, we can know that we are going
to have good days and bad days. Yes, we should enjoy the good times in life,
and we should use the bad times in life to consider how we are living our
lives. While no one enjoys the difficult times of life, they play their part
because they remind us of how we need God in our lives. If everything went
perfect all the time and nothing bad every happened people have tendency to
forget about God. That is happened to the children
Ecclesiastes 7:15 I have seen everything in my days of vanity: There is a just man who perishes in his righteousness, And there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness.†
You never know how life is will turn out. Just because you are righteous is not a guarantee that nothing bad will happen to you in this life. The same is true with the wicked. Just because someone is evil does not mean that they will not prosper in life. But understand this, in the end righteous will always prevail because only the righteous will spent eternity in heaven. Though the wicked may prosper while living on the earth, they will spend eternity separated from God in the pits of hell.
If the grave was it for all of us then life would be all vanity, but we know better.
16 Do not be overly righteous, Nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself?† 17 Do not be overly wicked, Nor be foolish: Why should you die before your time?† 18 It is good that you grasp this, And also not remove your hand from the other; For he who fears God will escape them all.
Solomon is speaking of having a balance in your life. You are not to be self-righteous thinking you so good that you feel like you a better than everyone else. You are also not to become wise in your own eyes. To do so would put yourself in the position for a hard fall in life.
When he says do not be overly wicked, this is not saying that we are allowed a little wickedness in our life. Instead, we should understand that we are human and we do sin sometimes, but our goal should always be to refrain from sin. For the Christian, sin can make us fall, but we can recover from it by repenting and confessing our sin to God.
The same is true about not being overly foolish. We are most likely going to do stupid things in our walk of faith, but in the same way with sin, we should avoid it, and when we do something stupid, we need to learn from it and make things right. The way to achieve† a good balance is life is be fearing God because as Solomon says:
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Ecclesiastes 7:19 Wisdom strengthens the wise More than ten rulers of the city. †20 For there is not a just man on earth who does good And does not sin.
This goes well with our last verse because the wisdom of God will strengthen the wise more then 10 men and their wisdom because Godís wisdom is far greater than mansí. Also, man has big problem. They have all sinned, just as all of us have and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). But God is pure and no fault can be found in Him. He has never sinned and He turns His head away from sin. Let us be the kind of people that seek our wisdom from God instead of man.
21 Also do not take to heart everything people say, Lest you hear your servant cursing you.† 22 For many times, also, your own heart has known That even you have cursed others.
Sometimes people speak things they donít mean, but if we take every word to heart that someone says about us or to us that is done in spirit of foolishness or anger, it can crush us. It should help us to deal with such attacks on us because most likely we have had our dark moment where we allowed words to slip from our mouth that were not kind. This in no way excuses the sin of the tongue, but this advice is more about how we deal with the cruel words spoken to us as we consider the person speaking and the circumstance.
Ecclesiastes 7:23 All this I have proved by wisdom. I said, "I will be wise"; But it was far from me.† 24 As for that which is far off and exceedingly deep, Who can find it out?
As wise as Solomon was, and as much research as he did, not even he could attain the wisdom of God. No one can know the depths of Godís infinite wisdom no matter how hard they try. Just as Solomon said earlier:
Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
While we can never have all the wisdom of God, let us be thankful for the wisdom He has shared with us through His Word. Let us cherish it more than our own food and lean on His understanding instead of our own.
Solomon ends our chapter this way:
Ecclesiastes 7:25 I applied my heart to know, To search and seek out wisdom and the reason of things, To know the wickedness of folly, Even of foolishness and madness.† 26 And I find more bitter than death The woman whose heart is snares and nets, Whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God shall escape from her, But the sinner shall be trapped by her.† 27 " Here is what I have found," says the Preacher, "Adding one thing to the other to find out the reason,† 28 Which my soul still seeks but I cannot find: One man among a thousand I have found, But a woman among all these I have not found.† 29 Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, But they have sought out many schemes."
Again, this re-emphasizes the in-depth research that Solomon did in his life to understand things. While he made many discoveries, he never found all the answers he was looking for.
One of the things he found more bitter than the thought of death was a woman who could capture your heart and make you do things you would not normally do. Solomon wrote about avoiding this type of woman to his son on several occasions in the Book of Proverbs. He also has personal experience in this because we learn 1 Kings 11 that his wives had turned his heart away from God. Woman need to be careful of this too, because a sinful man can lead a righteous lady down the wrong path as well. The way we escape their trap is by loving God first because when we do that, we will be prepared to break ties with those who try to drag us down into sin with them.
In verse 27 and 28, I believe Solomon is talking about finding wisdom. From his experience, he has only found 1 man out of a thousand that had some, and had not found a woman that any. His general idea is that finding wisdom in men or women is very rare.
Then in verse 29 he points out how that God has made man upright, but they always seem to seek out schemes. Mankind seems to have a big problem with accepting Godís authority and do things their way. Sometimes it seems that we never learn, but I hope that none of us are like that and that we will always submit to the authority of God.