Bible Study

ECCLESIASTES 7

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

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 writer 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 writer is mainly warning against extremism, and against the presumption that one can find the answer to every question in life (15-29).

I. COUNSEL FOR BETTER LIVING (7:1-14)

  A. HONOR IS BETTER THAN LUXURY (1a) Reputation for honesty is more desirable than all the wealth and pleasure in this world.  Better than precious ointment (representative of luxury) (a cover).

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 –  Re 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. 

2 Cor. 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

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

Phil. 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

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

Victory Baptist Church 19 February 2020 victorypalmetto.com