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Bible Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 7

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-6




Verse 1 affirms that a good reputation (Proverbs 22:1) is to be valued more highly than material luxuries (Matthew 26:7-9). When one has such a reputation, the day of death is better than the day of birth. The deceased leaves behind the good reputation, whereas at birth he entered upon a life of trouble, labor and uncertainty. Compare Paul’s testimony, 2 Timothy 4:6-8.

Verses 2-6 enlarge upon the serious realities of life, suggesting that:

1) The house mourning for a death Is better than the house of feasting, because the living are reminded of the reality that death is appointed to all, and should be seriously considered, Vs 2; Psalms 90:12; Genesis 50:10; Hebrews 9:27. Parties and frivolous activities have no such impact.

2) Sorrow is more Instructive than laughter, influencing the heart (mind) to an awareness that life has a higher purpose than frivolity, verse 3, 2 Corinthians 7:10.

3) The wise man Is sensitive to the occurrence of death, his thought and sympathy being affected thereby; but the fool is heedless, preoccupied with his frivolity, verse 4, Ecclesiastes 2:14; Proverbs 1:22; Proverbs 14:7.

4) It Is better to hear (accept) the rebuke of the wise than to listen to the song of fools, verse 5. Compare the response of David to Nathan (2 Samuel 12:1-13), with that of Israel to God (Amos 6:1-8). The frivolous utterances of the fool are as the crackling of a rapidly burning fire of thorns under a pot; noisy, displaying bursts of sparks, but contributing little of the constant heat required for boiling, a demonstration of futility, verse 6; 2:2; Psalms 118:12.

Verses 7-10


Verse 7, considering the context, appears to describe the vexation of the wise man who suffers from actions of one who misuses authority to oppress and obtain bribes, practices not uncommon in the Old Testament time frame, Ecclesiastes 4:1; Ecclesiastes 5:8; Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; Proverbs 17:23; Isaiah 1:23; Isaiah 5:23; Amos 5:12.

Verse 8 urges patience rather than rash action when oppressed, affirming that conditions will eventually change for the better; and that a patient attitude is better than a proud spirit. The wise course is to defer conclusions until all evidence is in, Proverbs 14:29; Proverbs 16:5; Proverbs 24:19; Psalms 37:1; Psalms 37:7-8; Psalms 40:1; Isaiah 25:9; James 1:19-20.

Verse 9 urges restraint of the tendency to become exasperated by unjust oppression; such anger is a reaction of fools, Proverbs 12:16; Proverbs 14:17; Ephesians 4:26.

Verse 10 forbids asking for return of former easier days in order to better cope with present problems. ft is not possible to live in the past and unwise to ask such, Numbers 11:4-6; Numbers 14:1-4.

Verses 11-12


Verses 11-12 emphasize the value of wisdom to sustain in times of adversity. Wisdom is good in an even greater sense than an inheritance which through its wealth protects against physical want. In a deeper sense, wisdom protects the greater needs of life, Ecclesiastes 9:18; Proverbs 3:13-18.

Verses 13-14


Verses 13-14 affirm that the course of life’s events is subject to the will of God. Man may complain, but he cannot change that which God has set, Ecclesiastes 1:15; Romans 8:20. It is His counsel to be joyful in prosperity, and in adversity be submissive, remembering that God is regulating affairs, verse 14.

Verses 15-18


Verse 15 reveals the apparent inequity, that the righteous may die early, as Naboth, 1 Kings 21:13 while the wicked may continue for a season, as Jezebel, 2 Kings 9:30-37.

Verses 16-17 advise against misconceptions because of seeming inequities such as observed in verse 15, see explanation, Psalms 37:7-9; Psalms 73:3-5; Psalms 73:17-18. Beware of assumed self-righteousness or superior wisdom which is offensive to God, Vs 16; Romans 12:3; Matthew 6:1; Matthew 23:1-5. Refrain also from indulgence in wickedness or folly which may lead to an early death, Vs 17; Job 15:20; Job 15:23; Job 15:32; Psalms 55:23; Proverbs 10:27; Acts 5:3-5; Acts 5:7-10.

Verse 18 emphasizes that the problems described in verses 16-17 are overcome through reverent fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10.

Verses 19-22


Verse 19 emphasizes further the value of wisdom that results from reverent fear of God. Such wisdom is of more value than the expertise of ten experienced men, verses 11-12. Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10.

Verse 20 suggests that knowledge from above is needed, because there is not even one person on. earth who does not commit sins of omission and commission, 1 Kings 8:46; Proverbs 20:9; Romans 3:10.

Verse 21 advises the wise man against seeking to hear or learn what others . say about him, lest he learn of derogatory remarks by his own servants or others and be needlessly vexed, Matthew 5:44.

Verse 22 continues the thought of Vs 21 with further advice that personal reflection by the wise man will likely recall many occasions when he also spoke ill of others without justification, Matthew 7:2-3; James 1:19.

Verses 23-24


Verses 23-24 acknowledge the limitations of Solomon’s wisdom. There were matters known by God that were beyond his comprehension, Romans 11:33-34.

Verse 25


Verse 25 emphasizes that Solomon was diligent in his effort to "know" and "search" and "seek out" wisdom, and the "reason" of things; also to know the wickedness of folly, even foolishness and madness, perhaps referring to his own iniquity (1 Kings 11:1-4).

Verses 26-29


Verse 26 reports Solomon’s firm conviction that the adulterous woman, who snares and entraps man, is the cause of sorrow more grievous than death. He affirms that whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her (by strength to withstand or providential restraint), but the deliberate sinner shall be taken by her. Other Scriptures support this teaching, Ecclesiastes 2:26; Genesis 39:7-13; Genesis 41:38-40; Proverbs 5:3-5; Proverbs 7:24-27; Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28.

Verses 27-28 state Solomon’s conclusion that true wisdom was rare among men, by a ratio of one in one thousand, and even rarer among women, Job 33:23. This opinion might have been influenced by knowledge of his 700 wives and 300 concubines, 1 Kings 11:1-8. Solomon acknowledged his own deficiency of wisdom in Verse 23.

Verse 29 declares Solomon’s central conclusion respecting all mankind, men and women. God created man upright, Genesis 1:27; Genesis 1:31; but man sinned, corrupting his descendants, who follow in a continuing wide range of sin, Genesis 3:1-7; Romans 5:12; Romans 3:23; 1 Kings 8:46; Isaiah 53:6.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 7". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/ecclesiastes-7.html. 1985.
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