Ecclesiastes chapter 7

Heed wise counsel. Avoid the extremes. Ancient attitudes toward women. God made us humans upright.

 


 

HEED WISE COUNSEL

 

VERSE 1. A good name is better than fine perfume; and the day of death better than the day of one’s birth.

fine perfume. That is, ointment applied at childbirth.

the day of death. A good name remains even after we die.

 

VERSE 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 should take this to heart.

 

VERSE 3. Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the face the heart is made good.

Sorrow is better than laughter. If we can soberly reflect on our lives, we can discover the next step in our growth as humans and as lovers of God.

 

VERSE 4. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

 

VERSE 5. It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.

the rebuke of the wise. A wise person’s rebuke is helpful. It points out a better way for you to live your life.

the song of fools. However, many of us ignore the wise people. Instead, we heed the advice of fools.

 

VERSE 6. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool. This also is vanity.

 

VERSE 7. Surely extortion makes the wise man foolish; and a bribe destroys the understanding.

makes the wise man foolish. Most of us humans have an insatiable desire to become rich. That desire makes us susceptible to foolish actions and even bribery.

 

VERSE 8. Better is the end of a thing than its beginning. The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

 

VERSE 9. Don’t be hasty in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.

Don’t be hasty … to be angry. Are you hot-headed? How can you overcome that?

James 1:19. So, then, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger;

 

VERSE 10. Don’t say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For you do not ask wisely about this.

 

VERSE 11. Wisdom is as good as an inheritance. Yes, it is more excellent for those who see the sun.

Wisdom is as good as an inheritance. If you had a choice, would you prefer to be wise? Or to be wealthy?

 

VERSE 12. For wisdom is a defense, even as money is a defense; but the excellency of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.

 

VERSE 13. Consider the work of God, for who can make that straight, which he has made crooked?

 

VERSE 14. In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; yes, God has made the one side by side with the other, to the end that man should not find out anything after him.

 

AVOID THE EXTREMES

 

VERSE 15. All this I have seen in my days of vanity: there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who lives long in his evildoing.

 

VERSE 16. Don’t be overly righteous, neither make yourself overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself?

Don’t be overly righteous. Some people are so zealous that they become narrow-minded and legalistic. They become like the Pharisees.

NAB translation: Be not just to excess, and be not overwise. Why work your own ruin?

not … to excess. It is better to avoid the extremes. Instead, stand solidly in the via media, the middle ground.

 

VERSE 17. Don’t be too wicked, neither be foolish. Why should you die before your time?

die before your time. In those days, dying an early death was interpreted as divine punishment.

 

VERSE 18. It is good that you should take hold of this. Yes, also from that don’t withdraw your hand; for he who fears God will come out of them all.

 

VERSE 19. Wisdom is a strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.

 

VERSE 20. Surely there is not a righteous man on earth, who does good and doesn’t sin.

To sin is to violate God’s will for us. It harms our relationship with God. We all have missed the mark and sinned. Here are the verses we’ve found »

 

VERSE 21. Also don’t take heed to all words that are spoken, lest you hear your servant curse you;

don’t take heed to all words that are spoken. Everybody has their “off” moments where they say foolish things. We should not heed such words.

 

VERSE 22. for often your own heart knows that you yourself have likewise cursed others.

yourself have likewise cursed others. Just as other people have their “off” moments, we too say foolish things sometimes.

 

VERSE 23. All this I have proved in wisdom. I said, “I will be wise;” but it was far from me.

 

VERSE 24. That which is, is far off and exceedingly deep. Who can find it out?

 

VERSE 25. I turned around, and my heart sought to know and to search out, and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know that wickedness is stupidity, and that foolishness is madness.

 

ANCIENT ATTITUDES TOWARD WOMEN

 

VERSE 26. I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and traps, whose hands are chains. Whoever pleases God shall escape from her; but the sinner will be ensnared by her.

NLT translation: I discovered that a seductive woman is a trap more bitter than death. Her passion is a snare, and her soft hands are chains. Those who are pleasing to God will escape her, but sinners will be caught in her snare.

a seductive woman is a trap. The author blames women for the sexual meanderings of men. This is cowardly. A man should take responsibility for his own actions.

 

VERSE 27. “Behold, I have found this,” says Kohelet, “to one another, to find out the scheme;

 

VERSE 28. which my soul still seeks; but I have not found. I have found one man among a thousand; but I have not found a woman among all those.

NLT translation: Though I have searched repeatedly, I have not found what I was looking for. Only one out of a thousand men is virtuous, but not one woman!

not one woman! The author has a very low regard for women. His statement is not consistent with reality. In spiritual traditions around the earth, women almost always outnumber men, and women usually experience much more significant spiritual growth than men.

 

GOD MADE US HUMANS UPRIGHT

 

VERSE 29. Behold, I have only found this: that God made man upright; but they search for many schemes.”

God made man upright. This seems to be contrary to the Christian notion that all people have sinned. However, at a deeper level, there are two truths. It is both/and:

  • Our true deepest selves, our heart, is made in the image and likeness of God. That was an original blessing from God. He made us “upright.”
  • We are humans with free will, We have a natural tendency toward sin. That is original sin. We are “fallen.”

upright. The Hebrew word is יָשָׁ֑ר (“yā·šār;”). It means straight, right.

they search for many schemes. Some people are always scheming.

 


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


 

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