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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
Ecclesiastes 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.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   Amusements and Worldly Pleasures;   Bereavement;   Death;   Sympathy;   Thompson Chain Reference - Afflictions;   Blessings-Afflictions;   Trials;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Afflictions Made Beneficial;   Amusements and Pleasures, Worldly;  
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Wisdom literature;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, the Book of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, Book of;   Poetry;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher;   End;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - AḥiḴar;   Simeon B. Abba;  
Every Day Light - Devotion for September 2;  

Clarke's Commentary

Verse Ecclesiastes 7:2. It is better to go to the house of mourningBirthdays were generally kept with great festivity, and to these the wise man most probably refers; but according to his maxim, the miseries of life were so many and so oppressive that the day of a man's death was to be preferred to the day of his birth. But, in dependently of the allusion, it is much more profitable to visit the house of mourning for the dead than the house of festivity. In the former we find occasion for serious and deeply edifying thoughts and reflections; from the latter we seldom return with one profitable thought or one solid impression.

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 7:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​acc/​ecclesiastes-7.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Proverbs about life and death (7:1-14)

The writer now faces up to the fact that people have to make their way through life in spite of its various misfortunes. Through a collection of proverbs he points out that whatever circumstances they find themselves in, they should use them to the best advantage.
To begin with, people should desire a good reputation. If they live worthwhile lives, the day of their death will be more important than the day of their birth. It will be the climax that confirms their good reputation for ever (7:1). In view of this, they should always bear in mind the certainty of death, and not waste their lives on empty pleasures (2-4).
People who understand life will prefer the sincere rebuke of a wise person to the empty praise of a fool (5-6). They will avoid the temptation to get rich through oppression and bribery, knowing that these ruin a person’s character (7). They will not be impatient or hot-tempered, and will not try to escape present troubles by wishing to be back in the past (8-10). They will recognize that wisdom and money, when used together, can improve the quality of life, but they will also accept the various circumstances they meet as being God’s will for them. They cannot change what God has determined, but they can enjoy whatever good they meet (11-14).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 7:2". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bbc/​ecclesiastes-7.html. 2005.

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

That - Namely, what is seen in the house of mourning.

Lay it to his heart - Consider it attentively.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 7:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bnb/​ecclesiastes-7.html. 1870.

Smith's Bible Commentary

Tonight we want to return again to the book of Ecclesiastes beginning with chapter 7. And as we return to the book of Ecclesiastes, again, it is important that we make note of the fact that the book of Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon in his later years. After he had assiduously pursued to find the purpose and meaning of life in so many different things: in wisdom, in wealth, in fame, in building, in pleasures. And after his pursuit, which carried him into every area and experience of life, he came up with the conclusion that life is empty and frustrating. Solomon made the mistake of searching for purpose in life under the sun. And if your purpose is limited to under the sun, chances are you will come up, as Solomon, with the conclusion that life is a mistake. That it is not worthwhile. That everything is only filled with emptiness and frustration.

But God did not intend for you to live a life under the sun. God intended that you should experience real life in the Son. In First John we read, "And this is the record, that God has given unto us, even eternal life, and this life is in the Son. And he who has the Son has life" ( 1 John 5:11-12 ). There is real life. There is real meaning and purpose to life. When you find the life in Jesus Christ.

The life apart from Him, apart from the spiritual dimension, living a life on the animal plane of a body-conscious experience and a body-conscious level will lead a person to despair even as the philosophies of today have concluded. That man will be led by reason to despair. Life is hopeless. Thus, man must take a leap into the upper story of experience and man must have some kind of a non-reasoned religious experience to save him from the despair of reality. And so the philosophy led man to the point of despair by reason. And then his only suggestion for man is jump out of reason. Become unreasonable. Take a leap of faith into a non-reasoned religious experience in order that you might not despair because life is hopeless. This is the conclusion that Solomon drew after trying everything.

Now as we read the book of Ecclesiastes, it is a book of despair. "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity and vexation of spirit" ( Ecclesiastes 1:14 ). The conclusions that Solomon came to are conclusions of natural, human reasoning apart from God. Therefore, they are not to be taken as doctrinal truths. You are dealing with a man searching for life apart from God and his conclusions are not doctrinal truths. Except that they do bring to you the end result of natural reasoning, but not divine wisdom. So they show you man apart from God and the despair and hopelessness of man apart from God. And the conclusions that are drawn are in that kind of a background. They're not doctrinal truths, because if you take the step into the spiritual level, you'll come to a far different conclusion of life.

Back in the book of Deuteronomy when God was giving the law to Moses, and because God could foresee down through time to that particular time in the history of the nation of Israel when they would demand a king, and because God knew that one day they would no longer be satisfied with Him being king over them and would want a king, God incorporated even into the law of Moses 400 years before they ever had a king, God incorporated laws for the kings. Because God knew that 400 years down the line the people were going to come to Samuel and say, "We want a king like the other nations around us. And because God knew they were going to say that, He incorporated into the law in the book of Deuteronomy laws for kings.

Now it is interesting as we look at the seventeenth chapter of Deuteronomy, as God is setting up the laws for the king, beginning with verse Ecclesiastes 7:14 of the seventeenth chapter of the book of Deuteronomy, the Lord said, "When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, 'I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me.'" And that's exactly what they said to Samuel, "Set us up a king over us that we might be like the other nations."

Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose. One from among your brothers shalt thou set king over thee. Thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses. Forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away. Neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life, that he may learn the fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them. That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left. To the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel ( Deuteronomy 17:14-20 ).

But verse Ecclesiastes 7:17 , "Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away."

It seems prosaic to declare God understands human nature. And God's laws are written for our admonition, and they weren't written in vain. "When you set up a king, one thing a king isn't to do, he's not to multiply wives lest they turn his heart away."

Now let's turn to First Kings, chapter 10. As we are reading of Solomon, remember he wasn't to multiply gold unto himself or silver or horses, but as we read in verse Ecclesiastes 7:14 ,

Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred and sixty-six talents. He had traffic of spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia. He made two hundred targets of beaten gold; six hundred shekels of gold went to one target. And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pounds of gold went into one shield. And the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon. Moreover, he made a great throne of ivory, who overlaid it with the best gold. [Down in verse Ecclesiastes 7:21 ,] All of the drinking vessels were of gold, the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. None were of silver, for silver was counted as nothing in the days of Solomon. [Verse Ecclesiastes 7:27 ,] And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars to be as the sycamore trees in the valley, for the abundance. And Solomon had brought horses out of Egypt ( 1 Kings 10:14-19 , 1 Kings 10:21 , 1 Kings 10:27 , 1 Kings 10:28 ).

He's not to multiply horses, not to go back to Egypt. Solomon's so far getting an F for the course.

And as we get into chapter 11,

But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites, and of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, [He's not to multiply wives, oh. Flunk him.] three hundred concubines: [And what does it say?] and his wives turned away his heart ( 1 Kings 11:1-3 ).

Four hundred years earlier God had warned about this very thing. God had forbidden this very thing with the warning, lest they turn his heart away. Solomon thought he could beat God. He thought he knew better than God. He thought he knew better than the law of God. But you don't.

God knows your human nature better than you know it yourself. And God has given laws to protect you. For God knows what the consequence of the violation of these laws will be.

For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after [the pagan gods of] Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, the Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem ( 1 Kings 11:4-7 ).

Actually it's on the, if you've been over to Jerusalem that hill that goes on up to the Mount of Olives down at the area of Gihon Springs. That is the hill where he built all of these and it's in the sight of all Jerusalem. It's right across the valley. It's in the sight of all Jerusalem. He began to build these pagan temples, a place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. "And also likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods" ( 1 Kings 11:8 ).

So every time he married a wife from some different area, he'd build a temple for her so she could go over and burn incense to her god right across the hill where all of Israel could see.

So Solomon had turned his heart away from God, and in turning his heart away from God, he lost the meaning of life and the purpose of life. And now he is an old man and he is writing of his experience. The consciousness of the greatness of Jehovah, God of Israel, has passed from his mind. And he's trying to find life apart from God. And he finds that life apart from God is nothing but emptiness. Therefore, you cannot take as scriptural doctrine the conclusions that Solomon came to in regards to life and death, because he is reasoning, this is the reasoning of man apart from God and you need to look at the book of Ecclesiastes as that.

Human wisdom, perhaps in its highest expression, yet apart from God is foolish. As God said in Romans, chapter 1, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" ( Romans 1:22 ). And any time you in your human wisdom seek to find a purpose of life apart from God, it's foolish. Your wisdom has led you to foolishness.

Now chapter 7 of Ecclesiastes is a series of proverbs and, of course, Solomon was filled with proverbs. We just have completed the book of Proverbs of which the majority were written by Solomon, and in chapter 7 he does go into another series of proverbs, sort of unrelated again to each other, but just little sayings of human wisdom.

A good name is better than precious ointment ( Ecclesiastes 7:1 );

Better to have a good name than to have good perfume.

and the day of death than the day of one's biRuth ( Ecclesiastes 7:1 ).

Now that sounds pretty much in despair, doesn't it? "Oh, the day of a person's death is better than the day of his birth." That's one who has become cynical because he has sought to find life apart from Jesus Christ. And in that case, it may be true. But living with Christ is a glorious life.

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 will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of merriment ( Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 ).

So he has taken a very jaundice view of life, a very jaundice view of pleasure, of joy, because apart from the Lord it is all emptiness. It is all a sham. And because he was seeking it apart from God, he experienced the emptiness of it, and thus, he became a bitter old man. Bitter with life.

It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: it's just emptiness. Surely oppression makes a wise man mad; and a gift destroys the heart. Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger rests in the bosom of fools. Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this ( Ecclesiastes 7:5-10 ).

You always hear them talk about the good old days. They say that's not always so true. The good old days when we didn't, when you women didn't have automatic dishwashers and vacuum cleaners, and wall-to-wall carpeting in your house, supermarkets down the block. You all grew your own gardens. Ground your own flour. Used the scrub board. Oh, the good old days. No, we have it pretty nice. We always look back, though, and we think about the days of our youth when Orange County wasn't crowded, when it was full of orange trees instead of subdivisions. But there are advantages both ways.

Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun. For wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom gives life to those that have it ( Ecclesiastes 7:11-12 ).

Money's good, but wisdom will give life to those that have wisdom.

Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? ( Ecclesiastes 7:13 )

Who can actually do anything against the work of God? We're powerless and helpless against the work of God.

In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that a man should find nothing after him. All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongs his life in his wickedness ( Ecclesiastes 7:14-15 ).

I've observed this. There have been good men who perished, died young in their righteousness. There were wicked men who lived many years. Therefore, his conclusion. Now it's not scriptural, it's not biblical. I mean, it's not in the sense, it's not godly. Human looking at life. Seeing that righteous man died young and a sinner lived to be a D.O.M., became a dirty old man, he came to this conclusion. Truly just pure human wisdom.

Don't be overly righteous ( Ecclesiastes 7:16 );

Don't get too involved in righteousness.

neither make thyself over wise: why should you destroy yourself? ( Ecclesiastes 7:16 )

Now it's a wrong conclusion. The righteous don't always die young. There are some beautiful old saints of God. But don't be overly righteous. Why should you kick off soon? Also,

Don't be overly wicked ( Ecclesiastes 7:17 ),

Be moderately wicked.

neither be thou foolish: why should you die before your time? ( Ecclesiastes 7:17 )

So purely human type of reasoning of life.

It is good that you should take hold of this; yes, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all. Wisdom strengthens the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city. For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not ( Ecclesiastes 7:18-20 ).

Now, in this he was correct. The Bible said, "There is none righteous, no, not one" ( Romans 3:10 ). The Bible says, "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" ( Romans 3:23 ). A human observation that is correct.

Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear your servant curse thee ( Ecclesiastes 7:21 ):

They say that an eavesdropper rarely hears anything good about himself. You know, you're that kind of person that's always trying to eavesdrop on other's conversations. And so he's sort of warning you against that. Don't take heed; don't try to listen to what they say. You're going to find out they're cursing you.

For [you know how that] oftentimes in your own heart that you have likewise cursed others. All this have I proved by wisdom ( Ecclesiastes 7:22 , Ecclesiastes 7:23 ):

Not by God, I proved it by wisdom. But the wisdom of man, the scriptures said, is "foolishness with God" ( 1 Corinthians 3:19 ).

I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. That which is afar off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out? I applied my heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even the foolishness and madness: And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleases God shall escape from her; but the sinner will be caught by her. Behold, this have I found, saith the Preacher ( Ecclesiastes 7:23-27 ).

Or the debater, or the word... it was translated into the Septuagint ecclesia, the assembler.

one by one, to find out the account; Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found ( Ecclesiastes 7:27-28 ).

So in all his thousand wives he did not find a decent one. Now, he did find one man out of a thousand. So men have a little better record as far as Solomon is concerned. But you might, of course, also observe he didn't marry any men and you don't really know a person till you marry them. But if he was, you know... people, it's interesting people seem to repeat mistakes, and you find a person who has been married five, six, seven times. It really can't be that the other person was wrong all the time. You say, "Well, it might be. It might be the person is just a, who has been married that many times is just a poor judge of character." And they're following a pattern because we often do. We married the same kind of person. And always you think, "Oh, the second time around, you know, I'll be wiser, make better choices and all." But we are bound by certain patterns and if, of course, you get a godly, righteous woman, her price is "far above rubies" ( Proverbs 31:10 ). And you'll find one in a thousand every time. You find one who loves the Lord. How glorious it is, how beautiful it is to have a wife who loves God, who calls upon the Lord. What a blessing, what an asset they are to our lives.

Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions ( Ecclesiastes 7:29 ).

God made us straight, but boy, how we have searched otherwise. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 7:2". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​csc/​ecclesiastes-7.html. 2014.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

1. Adversity and prosperity 7:1-14

He began by exposing our ignorance of the significance of adversity and prosperity (Ecclesiastes 7:1-14; cf. Job). Both of these conditions, he noted, can have good and bad effects-depending on how a person responds to them. Prosperity is not always or necessarily good (cf. Ecclesiastes 6:1-12), and adversity, or affliction, is not always or necessarily evil (cf. Ecclesiastes 7:1-15). Actually, adversity is often a greater good than prosperity. [Note: Kaiser, Ecclesiastes . . ., pp. 80, 82.]

"With his sure touch the author now brings in a stimulating change of style and approach. Instead of reflecting and arguing, he will bombard us with proverbs, with their strong impact and varied angles of attack." [Note: Kidner, p. 64.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 7:2". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​ecclesiastes-7.html. 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

The point of these verses is that it is wise to bear the brevity of life in mind as one lives (cf. Ecclesiastes 12:1). The "heart," mentioned in all three verses, is where we make moral decisions (cf. Proverbs 4:23). Thoughtful rather than thoughtless living is wise (cf. Psalms 90:12). Sobriety contrasts with self-indulgence.

"A sorrow shared may bring more inner happiness than an evening with back-slapping jokers (Ecclesiastes 7:3-4)." [Note: J. S. Wright, "Ecclesiastes," p. 1174.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 7:2". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​ecclesiastes-7.html. 2012.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

[It is] better to go to the house of mourning,.... For deceased relations or friends, who either lie unburied, or have been lately inferred; for the Jews kept their mourning for their dead several days afterwards, when their friends visited them in order to comfort them, as the Jews did Martha and Mary, John 11:31. So the Targum here,

"it is better to go to a mourning man to comfort him;''

for at such times and places the conversation was serious and interesting, and turned upon the subjects of mortality and a future state, and preparation for it; from whence useful and instructive lessons are learned; and so it was much better to be there

than to go to the house of feasting: the Targum is,

"than to the house of a feast of wine of scorners;''

where there is nothing but noise and clamour, luxury and intemperance, carnal mirth and gaiety, vain and frothy conversation, idle talk and impure songs, and a jest made of true religion and godliness, death and another world;

for that [is] the end of all men; not the house of feasting, but the house of mourning; or mourning itself, as Jarchi; every man must expect to lose his relation and friend, and so come to the house of mourning; and must die himself, and be the occasion of mourning: death itself seems rather intended, which is the end of all men, the way of all flesh; for it is appointed for men to die; and so the Targum,

"seeing upon them all is decreed the decree of death;''

and the living will lay [it] to his heart; by going to the house of mourning, he will be put in mind of death, and will think of it seriously, and consider his latter end, how near it is; and that this must be his case shortly, as is the deceased's he comes to mourn for. So the Targum interprets it of words concerning death, or discourses of mortality he there hears, which he takes notice of and lays to his heart, and lays up in it. Jarchi's note is,

"their thought is of the way of death.''

Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 7:2". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​geb/​ecclesiastes-7.html. 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Value of a Good Name.

      1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.   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 will lay it to his heart.   3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.   4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.   5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.   6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.

      In these verses Solomon lays down some great truths which seem paradoxes to the unthinking part, that is, the far greatest part, of mankind.

      I. That the honour of virtue is really more valuable and desirable than all the wealth and pleasure in this world (Ecclesiastes 7:1; Ecclesiastes 7:1): A good name is before good ointment (so it may be read); it is preferable to it, and will be rather chosen by all that are wise. Good ointment is here put for all the profits of the earth (among the products of which oil was reckoned one of the most valuable), for all the delights of sense (for ointment and perfume which rejoice the heart, and it is called the oil of gladness), nay, and for the highest titles of honour with which men are dignified, for kings are anointed. A good name is better than all riches (Proverbs 21:1), that is, a name for wisdom and goodness with those that are wise and good--the memory of the just; this is a good that will bring a more grateful pleasure to the mind, will give a man a larger opportunity of usefulness, and will go further, and last longer, than the most precious box of ointment; for Christ paid Mary for her ointment with a good name, a name in the gospels (Matthew 26:13), and we are sure he always pays with advantage.

      II. That, all things considered, our going out of the world is a great kindness to us than our coming into the world was: The day of death is preferable to the birth-day; though, as to others, there was joy when a child was born into the world, and where there is death there is lamentation, yet, as to ourselves, if we have lived so as to merit a good name, the day of our death, which will put a period to our cares, and toils, and sorrows, and remove us to rest, and joy, and eternal satisfaction, is better than the day of our birth, which ushered us into a world of so much sin and trouble, vanity and vexation. We were born to uncertainty, but a good man does not die at uncertainty. The day of our birth clogged our souls with the burden of the flesh, but the day of our death will set them at liberty from that burden.

      III. That it will do us more good to go to a funeral than to go to a festival (Ecclesiastes 7:2; Ecclesiastes 7:2): It is better to go to the house of mourning, and there weep with those that weep, than to go to the house of feasting, to a wedding, or a wake, there to rejoice with those that do rejoice. It will do us more good, and make better impressions upon us. We may lawfully go to both, as there is occasion. Our Saviour both feasted at the wedding of his friend in Cana and wept at the grave of his friend in Bethany; and we may possibly glorify God, and do good, and get good, in the house of feasting; but, considering how apt we are to be vain and frothy, proud and secure, and indulgent of the flesh, it is better for us to go to the house of mourning, not to see the pomp of the funeral, but to share in the sorrow of it, and to learn good lessons, both from the dead, who is going thence to his long home, and from the mourners, who go about the streets.

      1. The uses to be gathered from the house of mourning are, (1.) By way of information: That is the end of all men. It is the end of man as to this world, a final period to his state here; he shall return no more to his house. It is the end of all men; all have sinned and therefore death passes upon all. We must thus be left by our friends, as the mourners are, and thus leave, as the dead do. What is the lot of others will be ours; the cup is going round, and it will come to our turn to pledge it shortly. (2.) By way of admonition: The living will lay it to his heart. Will they? It were well if they would. Those that are spiritually alive will lay it to heart, and, as for all the survivors, one would think they should; it is their own fault if they do not, for nothing is more easy and natural than by the death of others to be put in mind of our own. Some perhaps will lay that to heart, and consider their latter end, who would not lay a good sermon to heart.

      2. For the further proof of this (Ecclesiastes 7:4; Ecclesiastes 7:4) he makes it the character, (1.) Of a wise man that his heart is in the house of mourning; he is much conversant with mournful subjects, and this is both an evidence and a furtherance of his wisdom. The house of mourning is the wise man's school, where he has learned many a good lesson, and there, where he is serious, he is in his element. When he is in the house of mourning his heart is there to improve the spectacles of mortality that are presented to him; nay, when he is in the house of feasting, his heart is in the house of mourning, by way of sympathy with those that are in sorrow. (2.) It is the character of a fool that his heart is in the house of mirth; his heart is all upon it to be merry and jovial; his whole delight is in sport and gaiety, in merry stories, merry songs, and merry company, merry days and merry nights. If he be at any time in the house of mourning, he is under a restraint; his heart at the same time is in the house of mirth; this is his folly, and helps to make him more and more foolish.

      IV. That gravity and seriousness better become us, and are better for us, than mirth and jollity, Ecclesiastes 7:3; Ecclesiastes 7:3. The common proverb says, "An ounce of mirth is worth a pound of sorrow;" but the preacher teaches us a contrary lesson: Sorrow is better than laughter, more agreeable to our present state, where we are daily sinning and suffering ourselves, more or less, and daily seeing the sins and sufferings of others. While we are in a vale of tears, we should conform to the temper of the climate. It is also more for our advantage; for, by the sadness that appears in the countenance, the heart is often made better. Note, 1. That is best for us which is best for our souls, by which the heart is made better, though it be unpleasing to sense. 2. Sadness is often a happy means of seriousness, and that affliction which is impairing to the health, estate, and family, may be improving to the mind, and make such impressions upon that as may alter its temper very much for the better, may make it humble and meek, loose from the world, penitent for sin, and careful of duty. Vexatio dat intellectum--Vexation sharpens the intellect. Periissem nisi periissem--I should have perished if I had not been made wretched. It will follow, on the contrary, that by the mirth and frolicsomeness of the countenance the heart is made worse, more vain, carnal, sensual, and secure, more in love with the world and more estranged from God and spiritual things (Job 21:12; Job 21:14), till it become utterly unconcerned in the afflictions of Joseph, as those Amos 6:5; Amos 6:6, and the king and Haman,Esther 3:15.

      V. That it is much better for us to have our corruptions mortified by the rebuke of the wise than to have them gratified by the song of fools,Ecclesiastes 7:5; Ecclesiastes 7:5. Many that would be very well pleased to hear the information of the wise, and much more to have their commendations and consolations, yet do not care for hearing their rebukes, that is, care not for being told of their faults, though ever so wisely; but therein they are no friends to themselves, for reproofs of instruction are the way of life (Proverbs 6:23), and, though they be not so pleasant as the song of fools, they are more wholesome. To hear, not only with patience, but with pleasure, the rebuke of the wise, is a sign and means of wisdom; but to be fond of the song of fools is a sign that the mind is vain and is the way to make it more so. And what an absurd thing is it for a man to dote so much upon such a transient pleasure as the laughter of a fool is, which may fitly be compared to the burning of thorns under a pot, which makes a great noise and a great blaze, for a little while, but is gone presently, scatters its ashes, and contributes scarcely any thing to the production of a boiling heat, for that requires a constant fire! The laughter of a fool is noisy and flashy, and is not an instance of true joy. This is also vanity; it deceives men to their destruction, for the end of that mirth is heaviness. Our blessed Saviour has read us our doom: Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh; woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep,Luke 6:21; Luke 6:25.

Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Ecclesiastes 7:2". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​mhm/​ecclesiastes-7.html. 1706.
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