1: A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth. 2: It is 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 lay it to his heart. 3: Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the 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. 5: It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. 6: For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity. 7: Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart. 8: Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. 9: Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools. 10: Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this. 11: Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun. 12: For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it. 13: Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? 14: In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him. 15: All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness. 16: Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? 17: Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? 18: It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all. 19: Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city. 20: For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. 21: Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: 22: For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others. 23: All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. 24: That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out? 25: I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and 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, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her. 27: Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account: 28: Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. 29: Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.
1: Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed. 2: I counsel thee to keep the king's commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God. 3: Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him. 4: Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou? 5: Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment. 6: Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. 7: For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be? 8: There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it. 9: All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt. 10: And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity. 11: Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12: Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: 13: But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God. 14: There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity. 15: Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun. 16: When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:) 17: Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.
1: For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them. 2: All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath. 3: This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 4: For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5: For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 6: Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. 7: Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. 8: Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. 9: Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. 10: Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. 11: I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. 12: For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them. 13: This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me: 14: There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: 15: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. 16: Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. 17: The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools. 18: Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.
Today we are reading Ecclesiastes ch 7, 8 & 9. Yesterday we noted that Solomon began a section of this book in Chapter 6v10 which extends to Chapter 12 v12 and in this second half of his book he is describing the chief good of Man which is to fear the LORD and keep the Law of Moses. This was written to the Jews in the OLD Covenant. Within this section Solomon has a paragraph from 6v10-7v14 in which he talks about man and his relationship with himself. Again Solomon is giving his teaching in ‘couplets of truth’. Sometimes Solomon attaches two couplets, the first being the proverb and the second being the interpretation of the proverb, beginning with the word ‘For’.
Of good things he says…
A good name is better than precious ointment;
and the day of death than the day of one's birth.
It is 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 lay it to his heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter:
for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning;
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise,
than for a man to hear the song of fools.
For as the crackling of thorns under a pot,
so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.
Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad;
and a gift destroyeth the heart.
Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof:
and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry:
for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these?
for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this.
Wisdom is good with an inheritance:
and by it there is profit to them that see the sun.
For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence:
but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.
Consider the work of God:
for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?
In the day of prosperity be joyful,
but in the day of adversity consider:
God also hath set the one over against the other,
to the end that man should find nothing after him.
From v15-29 Solomon gives six that excel in men. In v15-16 he speaks about the reversal of the natural order under the Law. He says I have seen the righteous die early in life and wicked live long. This is contrary to the Blessings and Judgements of the Law. So he says do not become over absorbed in ‘righteousness according to the law’. Nor should a man make himself over wise because why would you destroy your life by trying too much to do right and burn out. Next he says do not seek to excel in wickedness or foolishness because why would you bring the judgment of God on yourself early in life? He says that the man who fears the Lord buries all his friends. In v19 he says that wisdom gives strength to the wise more than ten armed men because there is no man on earth that never sins. The wise man knows this and comes to the Lord with his sin offering. In v19 he talks about those who is so attentive that he should do everything perfect that his servants become totally frustrated with him. Because you have often cursed those who are over critical of you. In v 23 he says that he said to himself I will be wise yet actually wisdom was elusive, It was far away and very deep, who can fathom it? He says I searched hard and long for wisdom but I found that the clutches of a bad woman was worse than death and whoever escapes from her pleases God, but those who lust after her never escape. In v27 he says there is an exceedingly long search to discover wisdom. Only one in a thousand men search like this and I have found no women like this. But Solomon says that it is the Lord that makes a man upright but fools invent many devices to do sin. In ch 8 Solomon speaks of man in the height of his wisdom. He asks who is like a wise man, who understands things? Then he answers his own question saying a wise man lifts up his face to face the world and has a determined expression which will not change. Then he says the wise man obeys the king’s commandment as he would an oath to the LORD. He says remain in the presence of the king because the king is sovereign. The kings word is powerful and authoritative. Those who obey the king need fear no men. And a wise man understands the timing of things and discernment. Because there is a right time and place for everything. He becomes the focus of evil men. He does not know what is secretly planned against him or when it might come. And no man has control over his own spirit on the day of his death. No man is exempt from this battle (with death) No matter how wickedly cunning a man is he cannot deliver himself from his own death. In v9 and 10 Solomon makes a personal observation, that, there has been a time when the master rules over another to his own detriment. And also the wicked have come and gone and been buried and no-one ever knows, their life was pointless. In v11-13 he speaks about man in his evil life. He says because God does not execute wicked men quickly they think they can get away with sin. Even though sinners may sin a hundred times and he continues to live yet I know for sure that the Lord will spare the righteous because he fears the Lord. And so there we have it. Life under the law was based around human - mortal life and those who broke the law died. Those who sinned – died young because they did not fear the Lord. From v14-ch 9v1 Solomon makes another observation He speaks of men life and Gods response to that life. He says I have seen a pointless thing in the earth - Righteous men dying young as the wicked should and wicked men living long as the righteous should. This made no sense to Solomon, It was pointless and it broke the normal rule of the Mosaic law but he observes it and takes not. Then Solomon recommends happiness because a mans life as a human being can be not better than having food, drink and fun. Solomon confessed that he set out to discover how men live on the earth but he was not able to fully understand it all. But what he had discovered is that the righteous and the wise are in the hand of God and that either in love or hate no man knows the future. In v2-10 Solomon talks about the end of mans life. He begins saying that there is one event that faces every man – his own death. It comes to both the righteous and the wicked, to the good and clean and the unclean, to the man who offers sacrifice and to those who cant be bothered, to the man who keeps his oath to the man who breaks it. Some men are full of evil and they have a sort of wicked madness yet they die. But he that is in the company of the living has hope (in the resurrection of the dead) Solomon says – a living dog is better than a dead lion. The religious life of Israel focused on human life lived under the Mosaic Law. Those that are alive know that they will die but what do the dead know? As far as the living is concerned the dead know nothing. (This passage is a favourite of Jehovah Witnesses and others who believe that the dead cease to exist but that view is not supported by the passage.) Solomon is talking about the life of Israel and their national religion was based around human life under the law. He is talking about death from the standpoint of the living. The living, know things but a corpse appears to know nothing. One cannot give a reward to a corpse. The corpse has not conscious thought or memory. Of course the spirit of the dead person is very much alive either in the conscious enjoyment of bliss or suffering. And the body of both the righteous and the unrighteous will be raised from the dead (although at separate times) So the ultimate existence of man is a living physical experience of eternity either in the blessing of God or the judgment of God. he continues saying that The love or hared of the dead – their envy has ceased when they die. They have no participation in mortal life once they have died. (This is a blow to Roman Catholics who think that the dead have an on going ministry toward mortal life) The dead have no more influence over mortal life. Solomon says to the living, go ahead and live your lives, eat and drink and be happy - if God has accepted your life, in obedience to the law. Keep your self clean and your hair conditioned. Have a happy sex life with your wife all your days because your human life is to be enjoyed. Whatever you find to do, do it with all your strength, because when you die all that will come to an end. There is no work in the grave, or technology, or knowledge, or wisdom. From the purely human standpoint death ends everything. No body goes to work the day after they die. No-body has any physical enjoyment the day after the body is physically laid in the grave. Solomon is not talking about what happens beyond the grave he is talking about what happens ‘under the sun’. Solomon says that the race is not necessarily won by the fastest, nor is the battle won by the strongest, nor does the wise man always have bread, nor does the men of understanding always have riches, nor are men of skill always chosen before others. He says time and change happens to everyone. Everyman with face his own time and every man will face his own eventful days. No man knows when his time will come. Fish are caught sometimes before they are fully mature and young birds are sometimes caught in a snare. It is like this with men who die young before their time. Solomon says I am going to tell you about something that I have seen ‘under the sun’ and it is a great thing. And he tells the story of a small city that was saved from a great army by a poor man who in wisdom saved the city yet he was forgotten for all he did. His wisdom was better than military strength yet he was despised and not heard. Then Solomon comes out with a classic proverb. He says the words of a wise man are heard in quiet more than the shouting of the man who is king of fools. Solomon says wisdom is better than weapons of war but one fool can do so much damage.