7 Better Things in Life
May 10, 2017
Solomon pauses in this chapter, which begins the second half of the book. Here, Solomon seems to reflect on the wisdom he has shared in the previous six chapters. As a result, he reflects on his experience and shares seven better things.
1. Honor is better than luxury (Ecclesiastes 7:1)
“A good name is better than fine perfume…” (Ecclesiastes 7:1, HCSB)
The Teacher begins and ends this section with a rationale that wisdom is better than wealth (Ecclesiastes 7:1 and Ecclesiastes 7:11-12). Honor is better than luxury for the simple reason that reputations last longer than a lifetime. One may have luxury in life, but that luxury ends at death.
2. Death is better than life (Ecclesiastes 7:1)
“…and the day of one’s death than the day of one’s birth.” (Ecclesiastes 7:1, HCSB)
The Teacher turns in this wisdom from describing the value of wisdom over wealth to the idea that death is better than life. The reason I believe is two-fold: First, as was shown earlier, reputations last longer that one’s life. Second, as will be shown later, it brings people together.
3. Mourning is better than feasting (Ecclesiastes 7:2)
“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, since that is the end of all mankind, and the living should take it to heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2, HCSB)
Mourning is the outward expression of an inward sorrow or grief. The Teacher here reminds us that one will not be able to party all of the time. People who come to your party only come from the enjoyment. They may not be coming for your sake. However, that is different when you go the place of mourning.
Unlike at a party, a person may go to comfort people who are going through grief. The friends who come to the house of mourning shows that they are truly friends. That is why it is better.
4. Sorrow is better than laughter (Ecclesiastes 7:3-4)
“Grief is better than laughter, for when a face is sad, a heart may be glad. The heart of the wise is in a house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in a house of pleasure.” (Ecclesiastes 7:3–4, HCSB)
To follow up the previous better thing is the reason why mourning is better than feasting. The reason is because sorrow is better than laughter. When the face is happy, they heart may not be happy. However, when the face is sad because of the death of a loved one, it shows that the heart is happy. One grieves the loss of another person. Grief reveals the happiness one has received through the other person’s influence in their life.
5. Rebuke is better than praise (Ecclesiastes 7:5-6)
“It is better to listen to rebuke from a wise person than to listen to the song of fools, for like the crackling of burning thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of the fool. This too is futile.” (Ecclesiastes 7:5–6, HCSB)
The praise of fools doesn’t accomplish anything more than puff a person up. However, it doesn’t make the person better. However, when one is corrected by a wiser person, if the one who is corrected would listen, they would learn.
The hard part with this better thing is to discover that correction helps me more than praise. Correction is a form of encouragement. When I rebuke someone, it should always be to make the person better – to correct a flaw, to teach a lesson, to improve something. Inherently, correction can be encouraging and healing. This is why it is better than praise. Praise is letting me know I do something well. But correction helps me to do something I don’t do well in a better way.
6. Patience is better than pride (Ecclesiastes 7:7-10)
“Surely, the practice of extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe destroys the mind. The end of a matter is better than its beginning; a patient spirit is better than a proud spirit. Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools. Don’t say, “Why were the former days better than these?” since it is not wise of you to ask this.” (Ecclesiastes 7:7–10, HCSB)
The end of a matter is better than the beginning of a thing because I learn patience. Extortion and bribes are just short-cuts to the end. They don’t teach me to be patient. They cut the path of patience and make me look good because of my ingenuity.
This is why a patient spirit is better than a proud spirit. If I become proud, I can easily become angry because things don’t go my way. If I am angry about a matter, it means that I didn’t learn patience, but that I am relying upon my pride.
When I look back to former days, I am relying upon my pride and not my patience. Pride teaches me to be discontent with my present because I believe that my past is better than my present, or future. Pride leads to a negative outlook. Patience teaches me to endure because I believe that my future is better than my past. Patience leads me to a positive outlook.
7. Wisdom is better than wealth (Ecclesiastes 7:11-12)
“Wisdom is as good as an inheritance and an advantage to those who see the sun, because wisdom is protection as money is protection, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of its owner.” (Ecclesiastes 7:11–12, HCSB)
As we saw earlier, this section begins and ends with the idea that wisdom is better than wisdom. Honor is better than luxury. Wisdom and money both protect a person. However, wisdom defines a person more than the things a person accumulates.
Summary: The better things come from the hand and power of God (Ecclesiastes 7:13-14)
“Consider the work of God, for who can straighten out what He has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity, consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man cannot discover anything that will come after him.” (Ecclesiastes 7:13–14, HCSB)
In this section, wisdom is shown to be better than wealth. The contrast has been between earthly possessions and heavenly possessions. Jesus stated that one should not accumulate things on Earth, but things in Heaven.
““Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19–20, HCSB)
The reason that wisdom is better than wealth is because the heavenly is better than the earthly. Wisdom is better because wisdom comes from the hand of God. All of these experiences highlight the wisdom of God. Honor, death, mourning, sorrow, rebuke, patience, and wisdom all teach us that the better things in life, and not necessarily the easy things all come from the hand of God. As a result, one should learn to trust Him.