Ecclesiastes 7-9

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

December 1, 2004

Ecclesiastes 7

:1-14 Wisdom makes life better

In the next 14 verses, the key word is “better”. What makes life “better”?

:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.

It’s better to be a better person than a richer person.

He’ll develop how a person becomes “better” through the next section.

We’ll see why death is better in the next couple of verses.

: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.

Funerals are better than weddings.

They sober you up and make you think about what we all will face and all need to be prepared for – death.

Moses wrote,

(Psa 90:12 KJV) So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

You don’t have forever in this life.

(Luke 12:13-21 NLT) Then someone called from the crowd, "Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father's estate with me." {14} Jesus replied, "Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?" {15} Then he said, "Beware! Don't be greedy for what you don't have. Real life is not measured by how much we own." {16} And he gave an illustration: "A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. {17} In fact, his barns were full to overflowing. {18} So he said, 'I know! I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I'll have room enough to store everything. {19} And I'll sit back and say to myself, My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!' {20} "But God said to him, 'You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?' {21} "Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God."

We need to be ready for the day of our death.

We try hard to ignore death – people don’t like to go to hospitals because they are afraid of facing the fact that people die.

I was talking with a family after church on Sunday – one person has lost three family members over the last two months – and we grieve with them.
But to be perfectly honest – we will all lose every single family member eventually. We will all die.

Are you ready to face death?


Spelling Test
A woman finds herself outside the Pearly Gates, where St. Peter greets her. Am I where I think I am?” she exclaims. “It’s so beautiful! Did I really make it to Heaven?” St. Peter replies, “Yes, my dear, these are the Gates to Heaven. But you must do one thing before you can enter.” Very excited, the woman asks what she must do to pass through the gates. “Spell a word,” St. Peter replies. “What word?” she asks. “Any word,” answers St. Peter. “It’s your choice.” The woman promptly replies, “The word I will spell is love. L-o-v-e.” St. Peter congratulates her on her good fortune in making it into Heaven and asks her if she will take his place at the gates for a moment while he runs an errand. “I’d be honored,” she says, “but what should I do if someone comes while you are gone?” St. Peter instructs her to require any newcomers to spell a word, just as she had done. So the woman takes St. Peter’s chair and watches the beautiful angels soaring around her, when lo and behold, a man approaches the gates. It is her husband! “What happened?” she cries. “Why are you here?” Her husband explains, “I was so upset when I left your funeral that I got into an automobile accident. Now I am here, ready to join you in Heaven.” “Not just yet,” the woman replies. “First you must spell a word.” “What word?” he asks. “Czechoslovakia.”

To be perfectly honest, when you die you won’t be standing before Peter, you’ll be standing before God.

(Heb 9:27 KJV) And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
When you die and stand before God, and He asks you why He should let you in to heaven, how will you respond?
He’s not going to give you a spelling test. And you don’t choose what the word will be.
He’s not going to see if you’re good enough – because no one is good enough.
It’s not about what you’ve done, it’s about who you know.

We all have a problem that is keeping us from heaven – it’s called sin. And before we can be allowed to enter into heaven, the sin has to be taken care of.

That’s why Jesus Christ came. He came in order to die on a cross and pay the penalty for our sins.

If you are trusting in Jesus Christ to pay for your sins, then you will enter into heaven.

Are you ready?

:3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

(Eccl 7:3 NLT) Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.

Our hearts get stronger through difficult times.

:4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

Very similar to verse 2.

:5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.

A fool may try and make you feel better by trying to cheer you up.

A wise person will make you better, even if it has to come through a loving rebuke.

:6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.

They just make a lot of noise.

:7 Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.

Allowing yourself to give in to a bribe weakens your heart.

:8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

Proud people are impatient because they think they’re too important to wait.

It’s better to be humble and patient.

If I’m having trouble being patient about something, is it possible that I think I’m too good to wait?

:9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.

Don’t be a person with a short temper.

If you’ve got anger resting in your heart, what does that make you?

:10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this.

It’s not a wise thing to look back and wish for the good ol’ days.

“Good” days are not necessarily “better” days.

We often think that times without pressure or trials are the “better” days. Yet in God’s eyes the days that we went through difficulties and trials were the days we grew up – those are the better days.
Maybe we should sit on the front porch and reminisce about the “tough ol’ days”.

:11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun.

It’s nice to get a big inheritance, but it’s even better when you have the wisdom to know what to do with your inheritance.

:12 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.

Money and wisdom are both good things, both can protect you.

But wisdom can prolong your life.

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

You are going to have a hard time if you find yourself trying to “fix” things that God has done.

Do you argue with God over how He made you?

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to work on your appearance, to get into shape, or to look nice.

But at some point I think you need to ask yourself if God made a mistake when He made you.  And I have to tell you that the answer to that question is “no”!

If God made you, did He make something good or bad?

:14 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.

(Eccl 7:14 NLT) Enjoy prosperity while you can. But when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. That way you will realize that nothing is certain in this life.

Those “bad” days aren’t all that bad. God uses adversity to grow us up.

That’s the lesson of the book of Job – to learn that I can still bless God, no matter whether I’m having a “good” day or a “bad” day.


Blessed Be Your Name
Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name
Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
"Lord, Blessed be Your name"

Words & Music by Matt & Beth Redman

:15-29  Life and righteousness

:15 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.

(Ec 7:15 NLT) {15} In this meaningless life, I have seen everything, including the fact that some good people die young and some wicked people live on and on.

:16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?

Don’t think that being overly righteous is going to keep you from going through difficulties.

He’s not saying that it’s wrong to live a righteous life.  He’s saying that living a righteous life doesn’t exempt you from problems and don’t be surprised when tough times come as if you don’t deserve them.

:17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?

Just because you’re not being “overly righteous” doesn’t mean you should be “overly wicked” either. That’s just plain stupid.

:18 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.

Better than not being “overly righteous” or “overly wicked” is to fear God.

:19 Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.

It’s better to be wise than have ten big burly Marines at your side.

:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

Every one sins.  Paul wrote,

(Rom 3:23 KJV)  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

:21 Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:

:22 For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

Don’t take everything so seriously.

We ought to be careful about making too much of the things we hear from others …


I walked into the rest stop bathroom and had barely sat down when I heard a voice from the other stall saying, “Hi, how are you?” Now, I’m not the type to start a conversation in restrooms, at a rest stop no less. But I answered, somewhat embarrassed, “Doing just fine.” And the other guy says, “So what are you up to?” What kind of question is that?! I’m thinking this is too bizarre, so I say, “Oh, I’m like you, just traveling.” At this point I’m just trying to get out of there as fast as I can when I hear another question: “Can I come over to your place for awhile?” Okay, this question is just plain wacky, but I figured I should be polite, answer him, and end the conversation. So I say, “Well, I have company, so today is a bad day for me.” Then...I hear the guy say nervously: “Listen, I’ll have to call you back, there’s an idiot in the next stall who keeps answering my questions. Bye!”

Seriously – people say things they don’t always mean.  How many times do you wish you could take back something you said?  Be gracious to others about their stupid words just like you wish they would be with yours.

:23 All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me.

:24 That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?

The world is just too big for any person to know everything. Even Solomon realized it.

:25 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:

:26 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.

It’s not very fun to be in a bad relationship where you are being manipulated and used.

:27 Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account:

:28 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.

He’s saying that righteousness is so rare that after looking and counting he only found one wise man in a thousand.

Keep in mind, he’s just written:

(Eccl 7:20 KJV)  For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

He says he’s found no upright women – it’s interesting to think that he had 1,000 women around him (1Ki. 11:3), 700 wives and 300 concubines.  Do you sense a little bit of bitterness with Solomon?

Perhaps if Solomon hadn’t married 1,000 women, but just married one and then treated her right, he’d have found his righteous woman.  The Bible says that a husband can have a cleansing effect on his wife:

(Eph 5:25-27 KJV)  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; {26} That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, {27} That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

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

God designed humans to be righteous people. We function best when we are doing the right things.

But instead of being good, we are constantly figuring out ways to be bad.

Ecclesiastes 8

:1-9 Conduct with kings

:1 Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

A wise man knows how to size up a situation and how to conduct himself appropriately.

Solomon will now give some instruction about how a wise man conducts himself with his boss.

:2 I counsel thee to keep the king's commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God.

(Eccl 8:2 NLT) Obey the king because you have vowed before God to do this.

:3 Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him.

(Eccl 8:3 NLT) Don't try to avoid doing your duty, and don't take a stand with those who plot evil. For the king will punish those who disobey him.

(Prov 24:21-22 NLT) My child, fear the LORD and the king, and don't associate with rebels. {22} For you will go down with them to sudden disaster. Who knows where the punishment from the LORD and the king will end?

:4 Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?

:5 Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment.

We ought to honor those in authority:

(Rom 13:1-5 NLT) Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God. {2} So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow. {3} For the authorities do not frighten people who are doing right, but they frighten those who do wrong. So do what they say, and you will get along well. {4} The authorities are sent by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of course you should be afraid, for you will be punished. The authorities are established by God for that very purpose, to punish those who do wrong. {5} So you must obey the government for two reasons: to keep from being punished and to keep a clear conscience.

God appoints governments.  He gives them the authority to enforce the law.

:6 Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.

:7 For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?

(Eccl 8:6-7 NLT) Yes, there is a time and a way for everything, even as people's troubles lie heavily upon them. {7} Indeed, how can people avoid what they don't know is going to happen?

:8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

spiritruwach – wind, breath, mind, spirit

Some translations use “wind” here – no man can control the wind.

The idea of the King James is that nobody can “will” themselves to stay alive.

:9 All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.

People will hurt each other.

:10-17 Life isn’t fair

:10-12 Wicked not quickly judged

:10 And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity.

A little different slant:

(Eccl 8:10 NLT) I have seen wicked people buried with honor. How strange that they were the very ones who frequented the Temple and are praised in the very city where they committed their crimes!

:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

When people get away with wickedness, it makes others want to do the same thing.

:12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:

Even though a person does a bad things a lot and gets away with it, it’s still better to fear God and do what’s right.

:13 But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.

:14 There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.

It’s such a waste when good people have things happen to them that only are fit for bad people. It’s also a waste when bad people get rewards that are appropriate only for good people.

But this is life.  Life isn’t always fair.

Sometimes as parents we bend way over backward to make sure that all of our children are treated fairly.  When it comes to Christmas presents, we make sure each child gets the same amount spent on each one.

Yet sometimes I wonder if we aren’t setting our children up for disappointment when they get into the real world where life simply isn’t fair.

:15 Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.

God wants you to enjoy your life.

(1 Tim 6:17 NASB)  Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

:16 When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:)

:17 Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.

All that God does is way beyond our ability to understand or comprehend.

How big is your God?  Is He bigger than you?  I hope so.

Ecclesiastes 9

:1-6 No one knows what’s coming

:1 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.

When you consider that bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people, you can’t really predict what kinds of things are going to come your way by whether you are good or bad.

:2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.

:3 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

The same things happen to good people and to bad. Good things happen to good and bad people. Bad things happen to good and bad people.

Jesus said,

(Mat 5:45 KJV) That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Yet there is one supreme event that happens to both good and bad: Every one dies.

:4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

To the Jew, a dog was the lowest of creatures, the lion was the most honored.

But it would be better to be a dog that’s alive than a lion that is dead.


Someone asked me if my dream was to live on in the hearts of people. I said I would prefer to live on in my apartment. You drop dead one day, and it means less than nothing if billions of people are singing your praises every day all day long.
-- Woody Allen, in an interview with Rolling Stone

:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

:6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

When Solomon talks about being dead, he’s not getting theological and describing what people call “soul sleep”. He’s not talking about what a person is experiencing in heaven or in hell, he’s simply stating the fact that a dead person no longer enjoys the benefits of the world we live in.

Life is better than death.

Paul talked about it this way:

(Phil 1:19-24 NLT) For I know that as you pray for me and as the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will all turn out for my deliverance. {20} For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ, whether I live or I die. {21} For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. {22} Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ. I really don't know which is better. {23} I'm torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go and be with Christ. That would be far better for me, {24} but it is better for you that I live.
A believer who dies does go to be with Christ immediately, and that is absolutely wonderful.
But Paul is saying that if he sticks around and lives a little longer, that is a good thing too because he has more chances to bless others, to bear fruit.

:7-10 Enjoy life

:7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.

:8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.

(Eccl 9:7-8 NLT) So go ahead. Eat your food and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this! {8} Wear fine clothes, with a dash of cologne!

It’s good to spend time at funerals (7:2) so you can learn about life, but don’t dress like you live at a funeral, dress like you’re at a wedding.

:9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

(Eccl 9:9 NLT) Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you in this world. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil.

Enjoy your marriage

(Prov 18:22 KJV) Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

I wonder if there isn’t a tinge of regret in Solomon’s words, in light of his 700 wives, 300 concubines, who turned his heart away from the Lord when he was old.

:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Live life to the fullest.

Do everything 100% because when you die, it will be too late to finish that “project”.


Procrastinators Creed...

1.     I believe that if anything is worth doing, it would have been done already.

2.     I shall never move quickly, except to avoid more work or to find excuses.

3.     I will never rush into a job without a lifetime of consideration.

4.     If at first I don't succeed, there is always next year.

5.     I shall always decide not to decide, unless of course I decide to change my mind.

6.     I know that the work cycle is not plan/start/finish, but is wait/plan/plan.

7.     I will never put off until tomorrow, what I can forget about forever.

On the more serious side …


Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

-- Thomas A. Edison.

:11-12 We all have unexpected trouble

:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

:12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

Even though we should work hard at whatever we do, there are still going to be times when things happen outside of our control.

You may be the fastest runner in the race, but you can’t control the nut who jumps out of the crowd to hug you.  This year’s Olympic games saw the man in front at the Marathon being knocked off his feet by a kook.  He didn’t win.

We shouldn’t be surprised when these things happen. They will.

:13-18 Good wisdom not always rewarded

:13 This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me:

:14 There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:

:15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.

The wise man did a great thing, yet he wasn’t appreciated for what he did.

:16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.

Don’t think that because you are wise or doing the right thing that you are going to be appreciated for it.

:17 The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.

:18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.

So a wise man can accomplish many things, yet the truth is that one stupid person can ruin everybody’s day.

Achan sinned and brought defeat on the army of Israel (Joshua 7).

David’s sin brought trouble to Israel (2 Sam. 24)

The revolt of Absalom led the nation into a civil war (2 Sam. 15ff).

Warren Wiersbe writes,

Since death is unavoidable and life is unpredictable, the only course we can safely take is to yield ourselves into the hands of God and walk by faith in His Word. We don’t live by explanations; we live by promises. We don’t depend on luck but on the providential working of our loving Father as we trust His promises and obey His will.

As we walk by faith, we need not fear our “last enemy,” because Jesus Christ has conquered death. “Fear not; I am the first and the last; I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore” (Rev. 1:17–18). Because He is alive, and we live in Him, we don’t look at life and say, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!”

Instead, we echo the confidence expressed by the Apostle Paul: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord”(1 Cor. 15:57–58, NKJV).[1]

[1]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1990). Be satisfied (Ec 7:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.