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7:1 "A Good name is better than a good ointment, and the day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth."
"better than a good ointment" -a good name is a good reputation (Prov. 22:1). A good ointment, scented oil or perfume could be very costly (John 12:2,5, and such was viewed as one of the luxuries associated with the good life. Moral purity is by far more important that how one smells. The world is filled with good smelling people, people who are able to afford costly perfumes who have rotten reputations. Our society has forgotten the importance of a good name, in fact, our society seems to glorify, reward and praise people who have bad reputations-lest I mention Dennis Rodman or others.
"the day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth" -Of course, such a day is only better for the man with a good reputation, the person who is prepared to meet God in judgment (Luk3 12:21). "if a man's life is such that he leaves a good name behind him, then the day of his death is viewed as a victory, the battle has been won. At birth a whole life of troubles and obstacles is before one, but the man that has lived a good life has overcome them (2 Tim. 4:6-8; Rev. 14:13; 2:10). In addition, a good name isn't securely established until the day of death; through carelessness, the living can always ruin their reputation.
7:2 "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart."
Points To Note:
1 "there is much to be gained by sober reflection on death. Those who do so realize that the same end awaits them, and their hearts are turned from folly. Herein the carpe diem (seize the day) of the Teacher differs from that of the libertine, for whom death is either a subject to be avoided or an incentive to party all the more furiously" (Garrett pp. 318-319). 2. Clearly, Solomon, nowhere in this book advises us to eat, drink and be merry in a reckless and sinful manner. Rather, pleasure is always in the context of the fear of God (2:24-26; 11:8-10). And this verse discourages the frivolous and worldly type of pleasure or living. 3. Pleasure isn't the ultimate good and the ultimate meaning of life will never be found in doing things that are "fun". 4. This verse is necessary because many people are superficial and would rather avoid the funeral or the sermon and would rather get on to the feast and the light-hearted conversation. 5. The verse definitely rebukes and condemns the individual who walks away from a funeral none the better.
"that is the end of every man" -a truth so obvious and yet one which many people refuse to accept. We should almost feel ashamed that God has to remind human beings of such an elementary truth. It doesn't even take faith to accept such a truth-for it is a fact which is demonstrated every day (Hebrews 9:27).
"the living takes it to heart" -"the living should keep that in mind" (Mof); "and it is a good thing to think about it while there is still time" (Tay). (Psalm 90:12 "So teach us to number our days"). "At any rate, honest men admit that death is inevitable and they are sobered by looking upon the face of a friend who in this life will neither smile or sing again" (Kidwell p. 155). Carefully note that often religious bodies think that fun and games is the ticket to church growth or member involvement. Solomon plainly notes that feasts and lighthearted occasions are not the ticket to moral or spiritual improvement. "It is not time for dwelling on life's brevity or on human limitations….At the house of mourning, on the other hand, the mood is thoughtful and the facts are plain. If we shrug them off, it is our fault: we shall have no better chance of facing them" (Kidner p. 65).
Point To Note:
Unfortunately, even in the religious world funerals are becoming less and less a time for sober reflection. In fact, even many religious people seem to be offended when the preacher dwells on weighty and eternal truths during the funeral. But Solomon says that the house of mourning is exactly the place to be thinking about your soul and eternity.
7:3 "Sorrow is better than laughter, for when a face is sad a heart may be happy".
Note the expression "may be", we have the choice and power to let sadness and tragedy transform our character (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4). The sorrow under consideration might be in reference to the death of a friend or relative (7:2) and can be used to draw us closer to God or repent of sins which we haven't forsaken. "When one faces the reality of death and the suddenness of judgment before his Creator, he is drawn in his mind to consider his own ways" (Kidwell p. 157). But we live in a time when many people try to avoid sorrow at all cost. Many people seem to prefer the "hectic, empty gaiety of fools" (Kidner p. 65), rather than mature and sober reflection. "Ah, don't worry about it" seems to be the theme song of our time. If we will only cooperate, sorrow can bring many wonderful changes in our lives (Psalm 119:71).
7:4 "The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, while the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure".
"The mind" -Long after the funeral is over, the wise man is still thinking about life and death. The sermon wasn't wasted on such a person. But we are behaving like fools, if we can't allow ourselves to soberly reflect on spiritual realities. The fool says, "I couldn't wait to get out of there, I need a stiff drink". Many people seem determined to live a life of denial. No matter where the fool is, he or she mentally wants to be thinking about superficial and shallow things. But life and death, heaven and hell are never far from the mind of the righteous (Colossians 3:1ff; Isaiah 53:3).
The Value Of Godly Criticism
"Solomon is still contending that one should maintain a good name and protect it. First by sober consideration to the lessons gained in reflecting upon death. Secondly, that our attention should be directed toward the rebuke of wise men" (Kidwell p. 160). Note that all the things discussed so far are completely at odds with the values the secular society. In our society, people think that any negative comment is terrible.
7:5 "It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man than for one to listen to the song of fools."
Please note that the statement infers that we can recognize wisdom when we hear it---only if we are really wanting to face reality and improve ourselves (Prov. 9:8-9; 27:5; 17:10; Galatians 2:11-14; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:13; 2:15). The song of fools might be a very popular song (100 bottles of beer on the wall, etc…). The world is filled with many such songs, often irreverent, boisterous, reckless, immodest and immoral. "Present-day society, which emphasizes self-centered hedonism, desperately needs to heed this reminder" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 992).
7:6 "For as the crackling of thorn bushes under a pot, so is the laughter of a fool, and this too is futility."
In the Hebrew, there is a pun or play on words here. "For as the crackling of thorns (nesseln) under the pot (kessel). In the East, and where wood is scarce, thorns, hay and stubble are used for fuel (Matthew 3:12). Such materials are quickly kindled, blaze up for a time with much noise, and soon die away. The point of comparison is the loud crackling and the short duration of the fire with small results. So the fool's mirth is boisterous and noisy, but comes to a speedy end, and is spent to no good purpose" (P.P. Comm. p. 157). The pun in English would be something like, "as nettles under the kettle".
You May As Well Face Facts
Concerning this section Kidner notes, "There are almost as many moods and standpoints here as there are sayings, but a certain low-key approach to the subject marks most of them….In verse 7 we can recognize the essence of a law which, in modern times, Lord Acton formulated as 'All power tends to corrupt…'" (pp. 66-67).
7:7 "For oppression makes a wise man mad, and a bribe corrupts the heart."
"makes a wise man mad" -"extortion maddens the wise man" (Ber); "oppression bewilders even a wise man's wits" (Knox). The word oppression means, "violence, injury, esp. oppression demonstrated by defrauding, extortion, fraud and unjust gain. Not only does such evil frustrate the wise men, but when wise men yield to the temptation to abuse others or their power, they will ease to be wise men.
"a bribe corrupts the heart" -"even a wise person can be made a fool when money becomes involved" (Longman p. 185).
Points To Note:
1 "Still, when people see how pervasive abuse of political power is, that it is indeed so common that it is impossible to function in politics without being tainted, they conclude that the words of the wise are hopelessly idealistic" (Garrett p. 320). 2. Proverbs 16:8. 3. The verse also reminds us that giving into temptation, such as greed, can completely undo all the benefits, even of divine wisdom. And yet, some people think that they can dabble in sin without sin gaining the under hand over them. But sin will always make a fool of the sinner. So much for the idea that you can be involved in corrupt and unethical business dealings or political maneuverings and remain a honest and ethical person.
7:8 "The end of a matter is better than its beginning; patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit."
"end of a matter" -a specific example of this is found in 7:1. "The end is better because we can form a right judgment about a matter; we see what was its purpose; we know whether it has been advantageous and prosperous or not" (P.P. Comm. p. 158). We need to remember that for the Christian the point isn't finishing first, but finishing (Heb. 12:1-4). Momentary setbacks should never discourage us, for we might lose a number of battles, but what counts is winning the war (Romans 2:7). A good beginning can often make people proud or over-confident (1 Cor. 10:12). A slow start can be discouraging. Much can change before life is through.
"patience of spirit" -"better patience than pride" (NEB). This is one more value that our modern society has forgotten, for we tend to admire and praise those who refuse to wait, our society glorifies the arrogant and the boastful. "people prematurely conclude that warnings to avoid corruption are naïve. If one is patient, one will finally see that moral integrity is indeed the better way…The wise man is neither naïve nor cynical and embittered" (Garrett p. 320). "Better long patience than soaring pride". "I would go on to add that no one can know the outcome of anything until it is completed, so patience, not pride, is called for" (Longman p. 188). Compare with 2 Kings 20:11 "Let not the person putting on armor brag like the one taking it off".
7:9 "Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools."
"eager in your heart" -quick to be angry. The idea is that of hastening, in a hurry to be angry. When our attitude isn't right many of us are simply looking for an excuse to get angry, like someone who is just itching for a fight.
Points To Note:
1 Consider the close connection between pride and anger. Humility and patience is a great check against selfish and sinful anger. This should make us seriously reevaluate our own anger. Often what triggers an angry response isn't righteous indignation, rather it is when our pride has been seriously humbled or put in its place. 2. The fool is a person who cherishes and nourishes such anger. "A quick temper in company with frustration is the earmark of the fool. Another mark of the fool is to welcome, harbor and entertain anger" (Kidwell p. 164). James 1:19; Proverbs 25:28.
7:10 "Do not say, 'Why is it that the former days were better than these?' For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this."
"Do not say" -Solomon is relentless! "verse 10 is even more crushing, as befits an answer to nostalgia, which is an enervating and self-indulgent mood. To sigh for 'the good old days' is…doubly unrealistic: a substitute not only for action but for proper thought, since it almost invariably overlooks the evils that took a different form or vexed a different section of society in other times. The clear-eyed Qoheleth is the last person to be impressed by this golden haze around the past: he has already declared that one age is very much like another (1:9) " (Kidner p. 67)
"it is not from wisdom that you ask about this" -we need to talk more sensibly than longing for the supposed good old days. Living in the past, pinning for some golden era in the past or our past, is also living like a fool. Longing for the past and dissatisfaction with the present is another manifestation of impatience and pride. "For one thing, to believe that the present is worse than the past shows a complete ignorance of history" (Longman p. 189). The wise man interprets the present and the past in the light of wisdom.
7:11 "Wisdom along with an inheritance is good and an advantage to those who see the sun."
The wisdom praised in this section might be good practical common sense, for such wisdom does have a limit (7:13-14). Like money, this wisdom does have some limited and earthly advantages. Without prudence and foresight, an inheritance can be easily lost or squandered. In addition, man's wisdom is more respected by others when a man owns property and other possessions. When accompanied by wisdom, prosperity can be beneficial.
"those who see the sun" -"may well be a double-edged remark, a reminder that there is a time-limit to the help that even wisdom, at this level of good sense, can offer. It pays no dividends in the grave" (Kidner p. 68). Godly or divine wisdom is far greater than riches (Proverbs 8:11), and is an advantage beyond this life
7:12 "For wisdom is protection just as money is protection. But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors."
Note that Solomon isn't against money or making money. Rather, he has pointed out the short-comings of wealth. Wealth can offer us some limited and temporary protection (Proverbs 13:8). "The superiority of wisdom, however, is that it guides one through difficult times and thus preserves life. Money, to the contrary, often vanishes in hard times" (Garrett p. 321). In addition, whatever protection or comfort money can provide is often negated if such funds are in the hands of an angry, proud and impatient individual. Even good common sense, not to mention divine wisdom, can keep people from self-destructing through various vices, passions and emotions, like anger which not only can consume your wealth but also your life, both physical and spiritual.
7:13 "Consider the work of God, for who is able to straighten what He has bent?"
Here we see that true wisdom won't try to change or deny what God has done. Rather, the truly wise man will submit to and accept how God governs this universe. Since God is holy (1 John 1:5), this verse isn't speaking about moral crookedness, but rather of things and events we find awkward, inconvenient or difficult. Instead of resenting and rebelling against the fact that God allows us to suffer, we should use such opportunities wisely (1 Cor. 10:13).
7:14 "In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider----God has made the one as well as the other so that man may not discover anything that will be after him."
"be happy….consider" -"God brings both prosperity and recession. When times are good, one should enjoy the prosperity; when times are bad, one should reflect on the fact that this too is from God's hand" (Garrett p. 321). Compare with Philippians 4:10-13. Note the word "consider". Instead of complaining, reflect! Instead of being tempted to find fault with God's management of this world, learn from the hardship (Psalm 119:71). "a little classic on the right approach to good times and bad, which is to accept both from God for what they can give: not with the Stoic's impassiveness, nor with the restlessness of those who cannot bring themselves to accept a bonus with delight, or a blow with an open and reflective mind" (Kidner p. 68).
Points To Note:
1 Those who can come to terms with the above verse will find peace. Those who can't, are destined to live a life that is frustrating. 2. In good times don't become arrogant, rather be thankful. In hardship, don't abandon or blame God, rather, grasp and learn those lessons which only hardship can deliver (Romans 5:3-4). 3. But how many people resent the bad times, and then miss the good times because they are always saying, "This can't last for long, I know something bad is right around the corner".
"may not discover anything that will be after him" -This doesn't apply to the afterlife, for the righteous know what the future holds beyond this life (12:7). Rather, this applies to the events in this life (James 4:14). No man can predict the future, God mingles good days and bad, so that man never knows what tomorrow may hold. Such a verse should humble us and clip the wings of our self-sufficiency. We can either rebel against this fact of life, resent it or determine to prove God wrong on this point, or we can accept it, be thankful that we don't have to worry about the future, for such would be pointless, and realize that the unpredictable future is always in the hands of a faithful God. Even the wise can't predict the future. This should be a warning to every investor or forecaster. Just about the time that you think that you have every trend understood, figured out and predicted, God will throw you a curve ball.
The Proper Application Of Religion
In this section Solomon isn't arguing that trying to serve God is a waste of time, for that would contradict the conclusion of the book (12:13-14). Rather, he is correcting an abuse in religion. He is reminding all of us that prosperity isn't a sure indication of God's approval and hardship isn't a sure indication of God's disapproval. In every age some religious people have gotten the idea that serving God will result in automatic material gain and protection from all physical adversities.
7:15 "I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness."
"who perishes" -that is, a very godly man who dies prematurely, or whose faithfulness to God is the reason why he is persecuted or killed. The Bible is filled with such men, Abel, John the Baptist, Jesus, James the brother of John, etc…Compare with Psalm 73. Righteous men often have suffered (Matthew 5:10-12; 2 Tim. 3:12). At times, being righteous actually keeps you from prospering in a physical sense (Hebrews 10:32ff). Thus the argument which says, "If you are right with God, then why aren't you rich?", is both foolish and naïve.
"prolongs his life" -that is, prolongs his physical life by being wicked, i.e. by compromising his principles or by having no principles at all. While the wicked at times do die young (Exo. 20:12; Deut. 4:40), there are exceptions. And these exceptions shouldn't bother us, or move us to question our faith or God's justice. The friends of Job were under the impression that being righteous would automatically protect you from any bad thing (physically) happening to you (Job 4:7-9; 8:20; 34:11-12; 36:6-7).
7:16 "Do not be excessively righteous, and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?"
Solomon isn't advocating a half-hearted devotion to God (Revelation 3:16; Luke 13:24; Matthew 6:33). In the context, the word "excessively" describes the attitude of the person who thinks that serving God will magically protect them from all harm. A person who is depending upon their service to God as being the means of securing for themselves material blessings and material rewards. The person who views Christianity as a means of material gain (1 Timothy 6:5). This type of perverted Christianity, just like a wisdom that fosters pride, can be very destructive. The person who thinks that God will never let anything bad happen to them, as long as they are keeping all His commandments, is first of all serving God for the wrong reason. And secondly, will be sadly disappointed. Often, such a person becomes an unbeliever or a cynic after a trial or tragedy. In addition, excessive righteousness is the same as boasted and over-confident wisdom. That is, both have ceased to be true righteousness and true wisdom. Arrogant wisdom is in the same category as self or perverted righteousness. Hence it is not unhealthy to be wholly dedicated to true righteousness or true wisdom (Matthew 5:20).
7:17 "Do not be excessively wicked, and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time?"
Of course, Solomon isn't saying that a little sin is OK or that sin is find as long as one sins in moderation. Or that you can be wicked just as long as you aren't really wicked. Rather, Solomon is quickly correcting any misconception that any of his readers might have about what he had just said. People love to jump to conclusions, and people with the wrong attitude (selfishness) seem to be always looking for any supposed excuse to ignore God. After reading 7:15, I can just hear someone saying, "Well, I guess it's OK to live a sinful life". Solomon quickly reminds such a foolish thinker that while some wicked men live materially prosperous and long lives, many do not! (Proverbs 10:27). Many a man or woman has found their physical lives cut short due to their own foolishness or some habitual sin. Do I need to mention all the young men who have died of AIDS?
Hence, the wise man is careful to avoid self-righteousness or over-confidence. And neither is he shaken when adversity comes his way. He doesn't envy the wicked who are prospering, for he realizes that such is only temporary and often he is looking at the wicked man or woman who is the exception in God's universe rather than the rule.
7:18 "It is good that you grasp one thing, and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them."
"grasp" -i.e. lay to heart. The one thing to grasp in this section appears to be the truths that have just been taught. The man or woman who fears God will avoid all the extremes or pitfalls in the previous section. They won't become self-righteous or arrogant and neither will they argue that nice guys finish last. Here again, we see that the righteousness mentioned in 7:16 is a perverted form of righteousness, for the person in this verse who is praised is one who fears God. In addition, the person who fears God is able to avoid the extremes that we see in man-made and human religion. On the one side, the ascetic who looks upon every form of fun as sinful, and who fails to enjoy the wholesome blessings of this life. On the other hand, the person who argues that grace gives us the right to sin, or who views any restriction from God as a threat to his freedom or personal happiness.
7:19 "Wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city."
Which should remind us that character does matter! And that wisdom is often more beneficial and effective than brute force. Wisdom, especially wisdom from God can give you better counsel than 10 kings or 10 prudent statesmen. Wisdom is a better companion and offers greater benefits than ten of the finest rulers chosen from the major population center in the land. The united combined strength of human wisdom sources cannot equal the wisdom found in the fear of the Lord (7:18). Compare with Psalm 119:99. The wisdom found in the Scriptures far outstrips the combined literary efforts of every secular writer who has lived since the dawn of time.
7:20 "Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins."
Points To Note:
1 This is the O.T. equivalent of Romans 3:23. Carefully note that the verse isn't teaching that all men are born sinners. Rather, once one reaches an age of accountability (Romans 7:9), all find themselves guilty of violating the will of God at some point. 2. The verse is also noting that no mere man can live a sinless life (1 John 1:8-10). Far from excusing our sins, it should rather point us to the need for divine wisdom and a Savior. 3. This verse also makes us face reality. We shouldn't blindly follow any man, even professed experts, for no man operating on his own wisdom is infallible. Apart from the Scriptures, every man is blind (Jeremiah 10:23). One more reason why we need to take advantage of every opportunity to study the Bible, meet with Christians, and be around spiritually mature and sound individuals (Hebrews 10:24-25).
7:21 "Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, lest you hear your servant cursing you."
While there are many things that we need to hear and take seriously (Mark 4:24), the wise man will learn to separate the truth from gossip and idle talk. In fact, Paul instructed Timothy to reject a number of human speculations (1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7; 6:20). In addition, always wanting to know what people think and say about us (esp. when we aren't around) is to set up a false standard. The opinions of other men and women don't establish reality, actually, they are the opinions of sinners (7:20), and what is that worth?
"lest you hear" -really wanting to know what people say about you-is just asking for trouble. No, everyone doesn't like you, which isn't a bad thing (Luke 6:22-26). Life will be frustrating if you take offense at every negative comment-for remember, you live in a world of sinners!
7:22 "For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others."
A good dose of humility will enable us to deal with the unkind things that people say from time to time. This doesn't mean that every sin should be ignored (Matthew 18:15). But it reminds us that concerning people in the world, we can't stop people from sinning and neither can we correct all wrongs and realistically demand a retraction or apology for everything wrongly said about us.
7:23 "I tested all this with wisdom, and I said, 'I will be wise', but it was far from me."
The word "tested" implies careful investigation. Solomon had a strong desire and resolve to truly be a wise man. And yet, apart from divine revelation, Solomon found that human wisdom fails to find the ultimate answers. This verse could be written on the tomb of every philosopher who has ever lived. "The honest admission of failure to find wisdom (apart from God)-of watching it in fact recede with every step one takes, discovering that none of our soundings ever gets to the bottom of things" (Kidner p. 71). The book repeatedly notes that Solomon had attempted to test everything with the best human wisdom available (1:13,17; 2:3,9,12). We really need to appreciate what we have in the Bible, so many riddles that would be forever beyond the grasp of man, are revealed within its passages (1 Cor. 2:9). Truths and realities that man would have never discovered on his own. So many simple passages that we take for granted, reveal a reality that we could never penetrate on our own (i.e. Genesis 1:1).
7:24 "What has been is remote and exceedingly mysterious. Who can discover it?"
Not only is man incapable of penetrating many of the secrets of the distant past (look how far off track some scientists are in reference to how the universe really began!), but man, even with the best human wisdom available can't even penetrate why bad things happened today. The reality below all changing phenomena is beyond the reach of man (7:14). Of course the answer to the above question is that God knows. Solomon just wasn't interested in the what of existence, he desired to know the why.
7:25 "I directed my mind to know, to investigate, and to seek wisdom and an explanation, and to know the evil of folly and the foolishness of madness."
This verse reveals the earnestness and eagerness at which Solomon approached this quest. He didn't merely dabble or speculate, he wasn't a weekend philosopher. Solomon wanted to see the whole picture, to find the total account of things. Now there are some things that he did find, but we might not be thrilled at his findings!
7:26 "And I discovered more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her."
Solomon isn't anti-woman, and neither did he find every woman to be like this, lest we forget what was revealed through him in chapter 9:9 and Proverbs 31:10ff and 12:4 "And excellent wife is the crown of her husband".
Points To Note:
1 The righteous man avoids such a woman in that he doesn't date or marry her! Like Joseph, a righteous man refuses to sacrifice his soul for a relationship with her (Genesis 39:9). 2. And Solomon knew what he was talking about, for he had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). 3. There is a type of woman (and men also exist like this) whose heart is snares and nets (full of tricks), i.e. a manipulator, one who destroys the souls of others. Whose hands are chains, i.e. who develops such a hold and influence upon one that it is hard to escape, who influences you to do evil (like Jezebel did to Ahab-1 Kings 21:25). Some of Solomon's wives had influenced him to go in idolatry (1 Kings 11:1-8). 4. Such still happens! Now and then some young man, even a professed Christian, will give up everything, God, family ties, friendships with Christians, to order to hold on to an enticing woman. Be forewarned, when a woman or man wants you to compromise your relationship with God and personal morally, a future with them will be a bitter experience. Better to die right now then endure a marriage with such a person. It is tempting to think that at this point God is revealing to us that finally Solomon did escape from the evil influence of his idolatrous wives.
7:27 "Behold, I have discovered this," says the Preacher, "adding one thing to another to find an explanation,"
Solomon was a very detailed and logical thinker. He weighed one point against another point, and gradually built one fact or observation upon another. "To find the net result, find out the account, to strike the balance-we have here an indication of the thoroughness with which Solomon went to work on his various problems" (Leupold p. 176).
7:28 "which I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one man among a thousand, but I have not found a woman among all these."
Points To Note:
1 Since Solomon only found one righteous or wise man among a 1000 that he could trust, and found one less woman , his conclusion isn't that women are inferior to men, but rather, wise, godly people among both sexes are scarce! 2. This also is revealing about the type of women Solomon had married when he was younger. And yet, on a wider search, Solomon did find some godly men and women (Book of Proverbs). 3. Solomon didn't find that most people are basically honest and sincere. In fact, Solomon found the same thing that Jesus will later note, i.e. few are willing to serve God (Matthew 7:13-14).
7:29 "Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices."
"God made men upright" -i.e. morally good, God created men and women in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27). God has given to every one the ability to recognize divine law as truth. This explains why Solomon found only one righteous man in a thousand. The failure wasn't due to how God created people, rather, God created mankind upright. Note the verse isn't saying that people are born inherently depraved, rather, after being born, after a period of childhood innocence, most people depart from God and search out excuses for not serving God, etc… The failure is on the part of man. The word "sought out" indicates eagerness, and "many devices" points to the countless ways in which people pervert their God given abilities and turn wholesome things into instruments for evil.
Points To Note:
1. Once again at the close of a chapter we stand completely unable to contradict anything that Solomon says. The world, the society which surrounds us only emphasizes the truthfulness of verses like the above. See Romans 1:18-32. 2. These devices include how mankind clouds moral issues, refuses to walk on the narrow path, challenges the Biblical view, yea, challenges the very existence of God or the truthfulness of the Biblical record. 3. Now, which path are you on? Are you trying to serve God or have you simply joined the masses? Are you interested in the truth? Or, are you simply looking for the nearest feeble human excuse which will enable you to sin and still have a good conscience?
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 7". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13