Introduction: Solomon continues in his admonitions to his family, friends, and servants. "The Preacher" tells them that life, without God, is empty. He had been there and done that. He knew what life was like on the flip-side of the coin. He was a man chosen by God to be king, as well as, a man who chose to live without God as king. How sad it is when a child of God lives as though there were no God.
So far, Solomon has done a very good job at showing us how empty life is when lived outside the will of God. In this evening's study, Solomon continues in this discussion. In this study, Solomon will teach his audience some good lessons, as well as, other truths that will be beneficial to each one of us.
1. Things that are better.
- A good name is better than precious ointment, "A good name is better than precious ointment..." (Ecclesiastes 7:1a)
* Fine perfume lasts only for a short while. The memory of fine perfume may last even longer, but few things can outlive a good reputation.
* As a child of God, all you have, in your neighborhood and community, is your name. You either have a good reputation or a bad reputation, but you cannot successfully have both.
- The day of death is better than the day of birth, "...and the day of death than the day of one's birth." (Ecclesiastes 7:1b)
* In its context, this verse is speaking of the long-term affects of a good reputation. When a child is born, he carries the name of another, but when that child has died, he bears his own reputation.
- Funerals are better than festivals, "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." (Ecclesiastes 7:2)
* Solomon recognized the benefit found in a funeral than in a feast. Once again, a feast is here for a little while, and then it is gone. But many lessons can be learned from the life and death of a man. Solomon makes note that the living will lay it to heart what he learns at a funeral.
- Sorrow is better than laughter, "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 mirth." (Ecclesiastes 7:3,4)
* This seems like an odd lesson, but the truth is, one can learn great truths in great sorrow. One can learn more through sorrow than he can through laughter. Billy Sunday said that you can't love flowers without hating weeds. The truth is, one has a greater appreciation for laughter when he has been delivered from sorrow, "For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." (Psalm 30:5)
- Rebuke from a wise man is better than praise from a fool, "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: this also is vanity." (Ecclesiastes 7:5,6)
* Perhaps one of the hardest lessons for anyone to learn is that of receiving rebuke, reproof, and admonition from a wise counsellor. Solomon's own son Rehoboam refused the wisdom which came from Solomon's counsellors and received whole-heartedly the praise which came from fools. In so doing, he brought shame and reproach to his name and to his kingdom.
- Finishing is better than starting, "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof..." (Ecclesiastes 7:8a)
* Simply put, one may look right and sound right at the beginning of a race, but that doesn't count much if he doesn't finish the race. If something is worth starting, it is worth finishing; and if it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
- Patience is better than pride, "...and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit." (Ecclesiastes 7:8b)
* The proud press on regardless of the result, while those with patience are willing to wait for that which is best. Better is the man, who never promises to finish, but does, than the man, who promises to finish, and doesn't.
- Wisdom is better than wealth, "Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun. For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it." (Ecclesiastes 7:11,12)
* Wealth gives none of these things, but wisdom provides them all.
- Wisdom is better than power, "Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city." (Ecclesiastes 7:19)
* Solomon taught us in Proverbs that wisdom is the principle thing. We sure have it turned around today. Men would rather have power and wealth than wisdom.
2. Something that is bitter.
- The snares of a prostitute are more bitter than death, "And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her." (Ecclesiastes 7:26)
* Whether he found this to be true by experience or wisdom matters not at this point. The truth is, these sins of immorality have stiffer bands and tighter bonds than death itself.
3. The bottom line.
- We cannot straighten God out, "Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?" (Ecclesiastes 7:13)
- Tomorrow is uncertain, "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 man should find nothing after him." (Ecclesiastes 7:14)
- Don't overdo it, "All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness. Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all." (Ecclesiastes 7:15-18)
- There is no one who has not sinned, "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
- Do not be nosey, "Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others." (Ecclesiastes 7:21,22)
- Wisdom, without God, is impossible, "All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out? I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness...Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting 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. Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." (Ecclesiastes 7:23-25, 27-29)
Conclusion: Along the way, Solomon did learn some very important lessons in life. They were worth sharing with those whom he loved the most. In love, he warned them not to take the road he took. When it comes to the negative things in life, experience is not the best way to learn.