Ecclesiastes 7: Wise Sayings

Ecclesiastes 7 continues Solomon's profound look at the purpose of life. Solomon ponders the difference between birth and death, emotions such as sadness, anger, and happiness, how to prolong our lives, and more.

Introduction

Ecclesiastes 7 continues Solomon's profound look at the purpose of life. Solomon ponders the difference between birth and death, emotions such as sadness, anger, and happiness, how to prolong our lives, and more.
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Death Versus Birth

We celebrate birth and mourn death, but Solomon tells us death is more important than birth. Later, he says the end is better than the beginning, so why don't we see it that way?

When we are born, we don't know anything and we can't do anything for ourselves or for those around us. We are but a burden on those around us. As we grow older, we become more helpful. We are able to contribute to society and achieve purpose. It is when we die that our legacy is sealed. In many cases, death is actually a call to action.

In 1955, a young boy named Emmett Till was brutally murdered. The subsequent image of his dead body sparked outrage around the country and was a catalyst for the Civil Rights' Movement.[1] Similarly, when Jesus died on the cross (and was resurrected), He became the catalyst for our redemption.

Further, as long as we are alive, there is more we can do. Once we die, or come to our end, nothing else can be done.

Sadness Versus Laughter

Would you rather laugh or cry? I'm pretty sure you said laugh, which means you were also confused when you read Ecclesiastes 7:3. Solomon tells us sorrow is better than laughter. Solomon's advice is actually contrary to what we teach today. Today, we teach people to seek happiness and cast out negativity. While I think we should expel negativity from our lives, I understand what Solomon is saying.

In life, we learn from misfortune. Whether it is through the death of a loved one, a loss of love, sickness or injury, we turn these experiences in to wisdom. Most of the lessons I've learned in life were accompanied by sorrow or fear, not laughter. The time for laughter is after the sorrow has passed or before it has hit. Solomon is reminding us that if our whole life is nothing but laughter, we will become fools because we never learn wisdom.

Anger

Consistant with the rest of the Bible, Solomon once again tells us to resist anger. Solomon reminds us that dwelling on anger is a trait found among fools, not the wise.

Live Longer

When I was in high school, I watched a movie called Raise Your Voice which shook loose something I knew, but hadn't really thought about. The key event in the movie (which happens in the beginning of the movie so this isn't a spoiler), is that when two kids sneak out to attend a concert, one is killed in a car accident. Although good things eventually happen for the surviving character, it took me back to the 5th commandment. God tells us if we obey or parents we will be granted longer lives. Our parents speak from experience; just like God's rules are meant to keep us safe, so are our parents' rules. What's more, when we break those rules, we often put ourselves in danger to hid our actions.

Solomon echoes this sentiment in Ecclesiastes 7 by telling us that the key to living longer is being prudent. When we make wise decisions, we lower our risk of fatality, increasing the chance that we will die of old age. For instance, if we drink heavily, we increase our chances of health problems such as a liver failure. We increase our chances of being involved in altercations (drunk people tend to have short fuses since their inhibitions are lowered). We increase our chances of dying in a car accident if we drink and drive. Solomon is telling us to think through our actions and make wise decisions.

Holier Than Thou

For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.Ecclesiastes 7:20 KJV
No one likes a person who has a "holier than thou" attitude. For those unfamiliar with the phrase, it refers to people who think they are more righteous than those around them. Generally, they tend to be judgmental, pointing fingers at everyone else's sins but ignoring their own. Solomon reminds us not to be like that. No one is just; everyone sins.

This verse doesn't just remind us not to judge, but it reminds us to forgive. We all make mistakes and if we are following God, eventually we seek repentance. Just as God forgives us, we should forgive our fellow man—Jesus tells us to forgive our neighbor 490 times ()! We cannot expect those around us to be perfect. We also need to forgive ourselves. In the beginning of our walk with Christ, we will stumble most as we make changes in our life; during this time we can be discouraged if we are too hard on ourselves. Remember, we all mess up at one point in our life! The important thing is that we learn from our sins, repent, and ask God to help us overcome temptation.

Finding A Woman

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.Ecclesiastes 7:26 KJV
Verse 26 is one of the more interesting verses in the chapter; at least to me. When I first read it, I wasn't exactly sure what it meant. Solomon starts the section (in Ecclesiastes 7:23) stating the difficulty of finding wisdom and he concludes with the difficulty of finding a woman.

A woman in the Bible symbolizes the church (Jeremiah 6:2). While the fact that a man can be found but a woman cannot lends to notion that this woman is literal, it also seems as though it could be talking about a church. Based on verse 26, this woman or church is trouble; at her core, there are only traps, which tells us she is full of gimmicks and trickery. This could easily apply to a real woman or a church built on false doctrine. Her hands as bands implies she restrains those who come to her. The Hebrew word translated to bands esur, which means bonds or chains.[2]

Whether this references a literal woman or church, believers will be able to identify these traps and escape them while sinners will play right into her hand.

Unnecessary Inventions

Photocredit: Unsplash.com/Alex Knight
Ecclesiastes 7:29 brings up a point that is more relevant today than it has been in all the years since it was written: man's desire to invent unnecessary things. We pride ourselves on our ability to create new technology, but often our creations are more harmful than helpful (like guns or weapons of mass destruction). God gave us everything we need, but we're always trying to invent something new. Whether its seemingly harmless, like adding to God's word (i.e., false religion) or physical objects, these invents lead us astray.

References

  1. "The Death of Emmett Till". History; visited September 30, 2017
  2. "612. esur". Bible Hub; visited October 12, 2017

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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