From Ecclesiastes 5-8
The passage reminds us about being overly righteous. Are you more concerned about your appearance in front of others rather than before God? In the gospel Jesus is well aware the overt appearance of righteousness before others is a sham.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The Preacher starts speaking about good and bad days. They each have a purpose.
14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him. (Ecc 7.14)
The Preacher instructs his listeners to consider something. God gives all bad and good days to keep mankind from something that ‘will be after him’. Presumably the events of this life distract us from thinking about what happens after we die.
15 In my vain life I have seen everything.
There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing.
16 Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?
17 Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?
18 It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them. (Ecc 7.15-18)
The righteous man dies early despite his righteousness. The wicked man lives a long life seemingly because of his sin. Go figure.
The Preachers instruction from this is not to be ‘overly righteous’ or ‘too wise’. A strange instruction unless we think the righteousness and wisdom sought after reflect a holier than though attitude.
More about appearance in front of others rather than a sincere and humble desire to know and please God.
This will result in a persons destruction. Overt wickedness and foolishness have the same outcome as being overly righteous. An untimely death.
The Preacher wants his listeners to reflect on this and learn from it. Perhaps among his listeners are both the ‘righteous’ and ‘wicked’ he describes. Only they know. If they reflect on his teaching and take it to heart, they should learn to fear God in truth and sincerity.
19 Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.
20 Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.
21 Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. 22 Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.
23 All this I have tested by wisdom. I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. 24 That which has been is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out? (Ecc 7.19-24)
The Preacher commends the value of wisdom. It gives more power than positional authority over many people.
‘Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins’.
Even the righteous sin at times. If someone is righteous, it does not necessarily mean they are sinlessly perfect.
No one is perfect. This should teach God’s people to be humble.
Rulers shouldn’t be too fussed if they hear others or their servants gossiping about them and cursing. At one time they would have done this themselves. Again no one is perfect. They are no better. So why worry about it?
The Preacher tried to learn all this but it was too much. The search for all wisdom – endless. But he continued none the less.
25 I turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness that is madness. 26 And I find something more bitter than death:
the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters.
He who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her.
27 Behold, this is what I found, says the Preacher, while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things— 28 which my soul has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. 29 See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes. (Ecc 7.25-29)
The Preacher has little positive to say about women in this passage.
Some entice men and try to trap them. Those God has favoured escape her wiles. Sinners however are taken in, caught and enslaved.
The Preacher has sought out upright men and women. Sadly they are few and far between. One in a thousand men. No women. The statistics are sobering.
God made man upright in the beginning, but mankind as a race has rejected God and sought their own way.
The passage reminds us about being overly righteous (Ecc 7.16). Are you more concerned about your appearance in front of others rather than before God? In the gospel Jesus is well aware the overt appearance of righteousness before others is a sham.
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Mt 6.5-8)
Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?
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