I Wish I’d Known this Before I Started! Ecclesiastes 7:1-12:12
Ecclesiastes 7:1-29 Wisdom for Various Situations of Life
Solomon uses a number of short, proverbial sayings to demonstrate that life experiences that give wisdom are better than those that only lead to foolishness.
Ecclesiastes 7:1-“Ointment” was made from oil…one of the most valuable commodities available. It represents all of the finer things of life that a man might possess. So here, he is saying that to be recognized as a person of character and integrity…is better than having riches and wealth. The second part of the verse affirms this by saying that it is better to die as a man of integrity…than to start as one, but lose it.
Ecclesiastes 7:2-You can learn more about life by observing what is truly important from a man who is dying, or from his family…than you can from going to a party where no one is giving it a second thought.
Ecclesiastes 7:3-You can learn much from times of sorrow. You can go through them and still maintain a happy heart. But, times of laughter will seldom teach you much about how to deal with times of sorrow. Those times seldom leave room for serious consideration.
Ecclesiastes 7:4-Again, there is much to be learned about life from those who are experiencing death. Fools have only one thing on their minds and can offer little help.
Ecclesiastes 7:5-It is better to receive the counsel of a wise man, than to fall for the seductive suggestions of a fool.
Ecclesiastes 7:6-“Thorne bushes” burn hot and fast. They do not last long. That is the way it is with those who only live for laughter (pleasure).
Ecclesiastes 7:7-A wise man will not accept the practices of oppressing others, nor the bribing of other people.
Ecclesiastes 7:8-It is far better to be patient and bring a matter to a positive conclusion…than to try to make something happen (and fail) in order to make yourself look better.
Ecclesiastes 7:9-Don’t allow anger to control you. Only fools do so.
Ecclesiastes 7:10-The smart person does not live in the past…always nostalgically thinking that they were better than the present. This is the day you have. Make the most of it.
Ecclesiastes 7:11-12-Wisdom and wealth are better than just wisdom, alone. The reason is that wisdom will teach you how to use your wealth in such a way that it gives you a secure life.
Ecclesiastes 7:13-14-Both prosperity and adversity are part of God’s sovereign plan. You cannot change what He has determined to be. During times of prosperity be happy. And during times of adversity, remember that it too has a purpose….even though you may not see what it is (:14)
Ecclesiastes 7:15-Solomon makes a simple observation: he has seen a righteous man who died after a short life, and a wicked man who lived a long life. Not what you would expect to happen. It is almost as if he is giving a disclosure before he continues…that says he knows that sometimes the things he is about to say do not seem to hold true. However, in general, they will be true. Then he gives several principles for living.
Ecclesiastes 7:16-Do not exaggerate your righteousness superficially…trying to impress other people. It will do no good.
Ecclesiastes 7:17-Don’t be wicked…it will only lead to an early death.
Ecclesiastes 7:18-Solomon says that it is good to hold on to both wisdom and righteousness. Both of them are important. Don’t sacrifice one, for the other.
Ecclesiastes 7:19-Wisdom provides incredible strength for life.
Ecclesiastes 7:20-No one is perfectly righteous.
Ecclesiastes 7:21-22-Give careful consideration to the things you hear. There may be times when something is said in haste and instead of responding in anger or judgment…give a little grace. After all, we have probably said something that we shouldn’t have and would want to have grace extended to us in such a case.
Ecclesiastes 7:23-Solomon was the wisest of all men (1 Kings 3:12,16-28)…and yet his wisdom was not capable of comprehending the many mysteries of life.
Ecclesiastes 7:24-There are some things beyond our comprehension.
Ecclesiastes 7:25-Solomon says he used his resources to learn everything possible about those things that are wise and good…as well as those things that are foolish and evil.
Ecclesiastes 7:26-One thing that he discovered is that the worst that can happen to a man is to be seduced and captured by an evil woman. A sinner will fall sway to her…but a righteous man will not.
Ecclesiastes 7:27-It is difficult to find a truly righteous man, or woman.
Ecclesiastes 7:28-He says that God made men upright (:29), but that men have sinned (:20,29).
Ecclesiastes 8:1-9:18 Wisdom for the Inequities of Life
Ecclesiastes 8:1-Solomon says that wisdom will benefit a man and those who know him. The words, “A man’s wisdom illumines him,” means that he is a source of light, or wisdom, to other people. The word “stern” means “strength, power, might.” “A man’s wisdom…causes his stern fact to beam” means that the strength that is inherent in his wisdom will be strength to others.
Ecclesiastes 8:2-9-He tells us to follow the leadership of the national leader. Concerning the national leader he says that…
- he has a responsibility before God to rule well (:2)
- don’t become involved in rebellion against him because he has the power to punish such action (:3)
- be careful of questioning his actions decisions (:4)
- a wise man knows that eventually, at the right time and in the right way, he will be vindicated (:5)
- there is a limit on his power and he too is subject to God’s sovereign will (:6)
- temporal power and wisdom have their limitations, so even the national leader is to recognize the limits of his power (:7-8).
Solomon says that he is aware of the fact that there are times when a national leader has abused his powers and caused harm to his subjects (:9).
Ecclesiastes 8:10-13-Solomon says that when evil people appear to get away with their actions, others think that they can, as well (:11). But, even if the evil person seems to get away with it over and over…and is not judged…it is not true. The day will come when they will be judged, therefore, it is better to follow the Lord. (:12-13).
Ecclesiastes 8:14-15-Because of the appearance that the wicked don’t get judged and the righteous suffer…life can seem to be very meaningless, futile. Don't be deceived by things such as these (:14)...but continue to trust God, regardless of how things appear (:14). If you choose to not trust God…then eat, drink, and be merry…because all that you can hope for lies in what this world has to offer you (:15).
Ecclesiastes 8:16-17-You will not be able to figure it all out...it will not always make sense...but you should still trust God.
Ecclesiastes 9:1-2-Solomon says that God is sovereign over everything that happens in life. While He may not be the direct cause of what happens…nothing happens that is not within His permissive will. On the other hand, we don’t even know if we will be loved, or hated. Virtually anything could be ahead of us and we would not even know it was coming. This is applicable to all men.
Ecclesiastes 9:3-6-For all of those who live “under the sun” (apart from God)…there is one, single fate…they all share in the same destination…they go to the place of the “dead” (that being a place separated from God). However, for the “living” (those who know God)…there is hope (that hope is the promise of eternal life with God). Solomon now makes a very strange statement: “A live dog is better than a dead lion.” A lion has great strength and power…much more so than a dog. But a dead lion has nothing. It is…dead. So, even though normally the lion would be a much greater force, in this instance, the live dog is more powerful than the dead lion. So it is with people. Those that are dead have no more opportunity, no more chance to get their lives right with God. But living people…even though they may be weak and feeble (as compared with those who have already died)…yet, they have the power, the opportunity to get their life right with God. So, better to be alive and weak…than dead and powerful. The bottom line is…no matter whether you a person of great power, or a person of no power…get your life right with God before you die and it is too late. There will be no changes made, then.
Ecclesiastes 9:7-18-Solomon gives a series of warnings to those who live “under the sun” (life without God).
- Ecclesiastes 9:7-10-He tells them to enjoy everything that this world provides them…food, wine, happiness (:7), the good life (:8), wife (:9). He says that this is “your reward”…this is the result of life “under the sun”…of living without God. Whatever you do…enjoy it all that you can…because that is all that you’ll get (:10).
- Ecclesiastes 9:11-Don’t be surprised if things don’t work out as you plan them. Just because you are the fastest, or the strongest, or the smartest, or the best at financial matters, or of unusual abilities…don’t think that you will always be productive. As time passes situations that we cannot control or foresee overtake us. And then, there is what some people attribute to just simple bad luck and there is no way to fight that.
- Ecclesiastes 9:12-Sometimes bad things happen. You seldom see it coming. It just happens and all of your plans are for nothing.
- Ecclesiastes 9:13-16-Don’t expect people to be grateful for the good things you do. They may respond to you and give you respect when it benefits them. But if it doesn’t…you mean nothing to them.
Ecclesiastes 9:17-18-A rational plan that has been carefully developed and presented will be more effective than an emotional reaction that depends on sheer enthusiasm.
- Hence he observes the commanding force and power of wisdom, though it labour under external disadvantages (v. 17): The words of wise men are heard in quiet; what they speak, being spoken calmly and with deliberation (though, not being rich and in authority, they dare not speak aloud nor with any great assurance), will be hearkened to and regarded, will gain respect, nay, will gain the point, and sway with men more than the imperious clamour of him that rules among fools, who, like fools, chose him to be their ruler, for his noise and blustering, and, like fools, think he must by those methods carry the day with every body else. A few close arguments are worth a great many big words; and those will strike sail to fair reasoning who will answer those that hector and insult according to their folly. How forcible are right words! What is spoken wisely should be spoken calmly, and then it will be heard in quiet and calmly considered. But passion will lessen the force even of reason, instead of adding any force to it.
Matthew Henry :: Commentary on Ecclesiastes 9,
Prayer: Lord, as I read these words, I am reminded that life on earth is unpredictable…even for those who follow You. But You never change. In the midst of the constant change of this life…You are always the same. Not only that…but You know that the change is coming, before it is even near, and You already know the outcome. So, I choose to cling to You, by faith. I will trust You as long as I live. While the world may swirl around me…You are my strength and stability.