Chapter Seven OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To understand what makes for "better living" in this vain world 2) To appreciate the limitations of wisdom in providing answers SUMMARY In the first six chapters the Preacher has shared with us his search for meaning (1:1-2:24) and observations gleaned during the course of his search (3:1-6:12). He has repeated his conclusions time and again.. * Life "under the sun" is vanity - 1:2,14; 2:11 * Yet there is good that one can do, provided one is blessed by God - 2:24-26; 5:18-20 In the remaining six chapters the Preacher shares his counsel through a mixture of proverbs and narration. He imparts wisdom designed to make the most of life "under the sun". In other words, while life under the sun is "vanity", how then should we live? The first half of chapter seven offers "counsel for better living" with a series of comparisons. For example, honor is better than luxury, your day of death is better than your day of birth, a funeral is better than a party, etc. His estimation of what is better may often sound strange, but it comes from who has learned from both experience as well as inspiration (1-14). The second half of the chapter offers "counsel for balanced living." There are challenging and difficult statements which should be understood in their context, and in the context of the Bible as a whole. It appears the Preacher is mainly warning against extremism, and against the presumption that one can find the answer to every question in life (15-29). OUTLINE I. COUNSEL FOR BETTER LIVING (7:1-14) A. HONOR IS BETTER THAN LUXURY (1a) 1. A good name is highly valued 2. Better than precious ointment (representative of luxury) B. YOUR DEATH DAY IS BETTER THAN YOUR BIRTHDAY (1b) 1. One's birth is the beginning of sorrows - cf. Job 14:1; 3:1-3; Jer 20:14-18 2. One's death can be the beginning of eternal bliss - cf. Isa 57:1-2; Re 14:13 C. A FUNERAL IS BETTER THAN A PARTY (2-4) 1. Better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting a. For the funeral home is the end of all men b. Where the living will take it to heart 2. Sorrow is better than laughter, for a sad countenance makes a heart better a. Thus the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning b. While the heart of fools is in the house of mirth D. A REBUKE OF THE WISE IS BETTER THAN THE SONG OF FOOLS (5-7) 1. For the laughter of the fool is vanity, like the crackling of thorn under a pot 2. Oppression destroys a wise man's reason, and a bribe debases his heart E. THE END IS BETTER THAN THE BEGINNING (8a) 1. Similar to what we have already seen regarding birth and death - cf. Ec 7:1 2. Not all that starts has an end; in the completion of a task one finds satisfaction F. PATIENCE IS BETTER THAN PRIDE (8b-9) 1. The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit 2. Do not be hasty to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools G. THE PRESENT IS BETTER THAN THE PAST (10) 1. We should not say "why were the former days better?" 2. One is not wise in thinking in such a manner H. WISDOM IS BETTER THAN WEALTH (11-12) 1. Wisdom along with an inheritance is good, and profitable for the living 2. Wisdom is a defense like money, but wisdom gives life to those who have it I. RESIGNATION IS BETTER THAN INDIGNATION (13-14) 1. There are some things of God we cannot change 2. God has appointed both the day of prosperity and the day of adversity, so man is unable to determine what will happen after him 3. The solution? a. In the day of prosperity be joyful b. In the day of adversity consider (e.g., what lessons might be learned) II. COUNSEL FOR BALANCED LIVING (7:15-29) A. DO THINGS IN MODERATION (15-22) 1. The righteous don't always prosper, nor do the wicked always suffer a. Avoid extremism in seeking to righteous and wise, lest you destroy yourself b. Avoid extremism in wickedness and foolishness, lest you die before your time 2. Don't refrain from true righteousness and wisdom a. Fearing God will help one escape extremism b. Wisdom is a source of strength c. But no one is perfect 3. Don't take to heart everything you hear a. You may hear another curse you b. Yet you have likely cursed someone at sometime B. WISDOM ALONE IS NOT THE ANSWER (23-29) 1. There are questions wisdom can't answer a. Some things are beyond one's ability to find b. No matter how hard and long you search 2. A wicked woman is certainly to be avoided a. Which he found out in his search for wisdom b. She is more bitter than death c. He who pleases God shall escape from her, but the sinner shall be taken by her 3. A good man is hard to find a. In his search, he found only one in a thousand b. A good woman was even rarer c. God made man upright, but man has sought out many schemes REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Counsel for better living (1-14) - Counsel for balanced living (15-29) 2) What is better than precious ointment? (1) - A good name 3) Which is better, the day of death or the day one's birth? (1) - The day of death 4) Why is it better to attend a funeral rather than a party? (2) - The funeral house is the end of all men, and the living take it to heart 5) Why is sorrow better than laughter? (3) - By a sad countenance the heart is made better 6) Where does the heart of the wise reside? The heart of the fool? (4) - In the house of mourning - In the house of mirth 7) Which is better, to hear rebuke from the wise, or a song from a fool? (5) - The rebuke of the wise 8) What is the laughter of the fool? (6) - Like the crackling of thorns under a pot; vanity 9) What destroys a wise man's reason? What debases the heart? (7) - Oppression; bribery 10) What other two comparisons are made? (8) - The end is better than the beginning - Patience is better than pride 11) Why should one not hasten to be angry? (9) - Anger rests in the bosom of fools 12) What is not a wise thing to say? (10) - Why were the former days better than these? 13) What is good along with an inheritance? Why? (11-12) - Wisdom; it is a defense just as money is a defense 14) What is the value of knowledge? (12) - It gives life to those who have it 15) What should we consider about the work of God? (13) - No one can make straight what He has made crooked 16) What should we do in days of prosperity? In days of adversity? Why? (14) - Be joyful - Consider - God has appointed both so that man can not find out what will come after him 17) What two things had Solomon seen in the days of his vanity? (15) - A just man perishing in his righteousness - A wicked man prolonging life in his wickedness 18) Against what does Solomon caution? (16-18) - Extremism in being righteous and wise, and in being wicked and foolish 19) How strong is wisdom? (19) - Stronger than ten rulers of the city 20) Is there anyone who does not sin? (20) - No 21) What should one not take to heart? (21-22) - Everything people say 22) In his effort to be wise, what did Solomon find? (23-25) - There were things beyond his ability to discern 23) What did he find more bitter than death? (26) - A woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are fetters 24) Who can escape such a woman? (26) - He who pleases God 25) In his search, what had he found, and not found? (27-28) - He found one man among a thousand - A woman among all those he had not found 26) What else had he found? (29) - God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes
The value of practical wisdom
[Ecc 7:1-29 NKJV] 1 A good name [is] better than precious ointment, And the day of death than the day of one's 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. 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. 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. 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. 13 Consider the work of God; For who can make straight what He has made crooked? 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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? 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."