This study is taken from EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary
Chapter 7 don’t make your home this world
The Teacher does not continue to ask questions. Instead, he uses many special sentences that are called ‘proverbs’.
What is best in our lives – Ecclesiastes 7:1-6
v1 It is better when people think good things about you.
It is better than oil that has a sweet smell.
The day that you die is good.
It is better than the day that you were born.
v2 It is good to be with sad people at a funeral.
That is better than to be with happy people at a party.
Funerals remind us that everybody will die at the end of their life.
So people should think carefully about that.
v3 Choose to be sad.
That is better than to be happy.
A sad experience can teach us something that is valuable.
v4 A wise person thinks about what death means.
Foolish people think only about how to have happiness.
v5 Listen to a wise person if they blame you.
But do not listen to a foolish person who is praising you.
v6 When a fool laughs, it has no value.
It sounds like wood in a fire.
It is like small, thin branches that are burning under a pot.
Their noise tells us nothing.
Verses 1-4 Oil that had a sweet smell was precious. It made people’s skin soft and smooth. It is better to have a good character than to be pretty or handsome. For some people, death frees them from painful experiences and from unhappy problems. The Teacher thinks about death and about the times when we are sad. He says that these thoughts are valuable. They remind people to live in the right way. The foolish person thinks only about how to enjoy himself. He does not remember that his life will end soon. He is like the farmer in Jesus’ story in the *New Testament. The farmer spoke to himself and said this. ‘Eat and drink. Enjoy yourself.’ But God called him a fool. God said that the farmer would die during that night (Luke 12:19-20).
Verse 5 Nathan blamed King David because David had taken Uriah’s wife. And David caused Uriah to die (2 Samuel 12:1-12). Nathan helped the king to recognize his *sin. Then David asked God to forgive his *sin. A true friend will warn someone if he is doing some wrong thing. He will warn his friend if he is saying wrong things. Sometimes a person praises people when they do not deserve it. This gives to those other people wrong ideas about themselves. And wrong ideas can cause wrong actions.
Verse 6 Where there are few big trees, people must use thin, small branches as fuel for their fires. These burn very quickly and they may make a lot of noise. But they do not make much heat in order to cook things. The small branches burn too quickly and the pot does not boil. This is not useful. The foolish person laughs loudly for no reason and that benefits nobody.
How to behave when you have troubles – Ecclesiastes 7:7-10
v7 When people do bad things,
even a wise man may seem foolish.
When a person does wrong things for money, it spoils their character.
v8 To complete something satisfies people.
It is more difficult when things are just beginning.
So it is better to be patient.
It is never good to be proud.
v9 Do not become angry quickly.
Only a fool remains angry with people.
v10 Do not say this, ‘Why were things better in the good days that have passed?’
It is not wise to ask questions that are like that.
Verse 7 When a person has troubles, it may not be his own fault. And even a wise person can become very foolish, then:
1. a) He becomes foolish because he begins to doubt God. He is not sure now that God is really good and fair. He believes God less.
b) Any advice that he gives may seem foolish to other people.
2. a) People may ask a wise man to act as a judge. He might accept money in order to make a wrong judgment. This will make him rich but it will spoil his character.
b) People choose wise men to be their leaders. But some people might want a special advantage, so they offer money to the wise leader. It is wrong for the leader to take this money. His character will suffer and he will not be completely wise afterwards.
Verse 8 Difficulties may make us better people. Those difficulties will last for a period only. Some difficult responsibilities may last longer than we expect. But a humble person will be patient, because he trusts God. A proud person is not patient with God. Proud people forget that God made them.
Verse 9 The Teacher warns people who are in difficult situations or in unhappy situations. They must control themselves. Only foolish people allow themselves to remain angry for a long time. They will have trouble with other people. And foolish people will never be at peace.
Verse 10 It is not wise to think only about the past. Do not say always that the past was better than the present. The *Israelites thought about how things were in Egypt. But they remembered only the good food that they had enjoyed there (Numbers 11:5-6). They forgot all the things that they had suffered there as slaves. The things that were evil in the past may be different for people now. But each age has difficulties and problems. When people think only about the past, they do not do anything in the present. And they do not appreciate what is good in the present times.
It is valuable to be wise – Ecclesiastes 7:11-12
v11 To be wise is good.
Wisdom is a valuable thing.
Wisdom is an advantage for all people in the world.
When a father dies, his children receive his valuable things.
Wisdom is more valuable than all those things.
v12 Money protects us.
Wisdom protects us also.
And wisdom guards the lives of people who are wise.
That is the advantage when we understand things.
Verses 11-12 In Proverbs 3:13-18, we can read about wisdom. To be wise is more precious than silver, gold, or precious stones. Here the Teacher says that wisdom is more valuable than precious things. When a father dies, his possessions are valuable to his children. But wisdom is more valuable. Wisdom is also like money when you have enough. The money provides security from danger. Both wisdom and money are like a shelter, and their shelter guards our lives.
How to accept God’s work – Ecclesiastes 7:13-14
v13 Think about what God has made.
He made some things straight.
And he made some things that have curves.
Nobody can change that.
v14 When good things happen, enjoy yourself.
When bad things happen, you should think carefully.
God created both of those periods.
So nobody can discover what will happen in the future.
Verses 13-14 There is a limit to what people know. And there is a limit to what a wise person can do. These verses repeat that we cannot change things. (See Ecclesiastes 1:15 also.) We cannot change the way that God has made things. There are events in our life that we must accept. We may not like what is happening. Good events allow us to enjoy our life. But bad events help us to think more seriously about our life. The wisest way is to trust God whatever the circumstances are. We cannot know what will happen in the future. God always has a purpose in what he does. But we cannot always understand his purpose.
Good lives and bad lives – Ecclesiastes 7:15-18
v15 During my life, I have seen many things. And some things are very difficult to understand. For example, there is a man who obeys God’s laws. But he dies when he is still young. He is a good man, but still he dies as a young man. And I have seen a wicked person who lives for a long time. He did not obey God’s laws, but still he lived for a long time! v16 Do not think too much about how good you are. Do not try to be very wise. If you act in that way, you will ruin yourself. v17 Do not allow yourself to become really wicked. And do not act like a fool. These kinds of people will die before they should die. v18 You should remember all this advice carefully. If you really are afraid to make God angry, you will avoid all this extreme behavior.
Verse 15 Most people think about this problem sometimes. Some people obey God. But they die while they are still young. This is a puzzle. For example, in Psalm 91:16 we read that God said this: ‘Because he loves me, I will satisfy him with a long life.’ But that does not happen always. Also, we see wicked people who seem to have easy and happy lives (Job 21:7-15). But God offers to us a life that is good quality. That is true, even if it is not very long.
Verses 16-17 These verses do not mean that there should be a limit to good behavior. And they are not suggesting that we should be slightly wicked. It is not satisfactory just because you are not too wicked. Some people are very proud that they are ‘good’ people. They forget that nobody obeys God perfectly. In the *New Testament, Jesus told a story about that. A *Jewish man reminded God that he had obeyed the rules of his religion (Luke 18:9-14). This man thought that he was a good man. Jesus referred to people who were like this. And he said that he could not help them (Luke 5:32). They liked to think that they were very wise. They thought that other people should respect them (Matthew 23:5-7). The Teacher was warning against these wrong attitudes. All people have a desire to do wrong things. That is *sin. So it is important that people must control their own nature and their desires. They should not become fools. Fools do not believe that there is a God. They just want to behave in any way that they choose.
Verse 18 The Teacher warns the readers. They must not forget what the Teacher has said. People must not think too much about how good they are. They must not pretend to be wise. They must always try not to do wicked things.
To be wise is important – Ecclesiastes 7:19-25
v19 A wise man is stronger than 10 very powerful men who are ruling a town.
v20 A person may be very good. But there is no person anywhere who always behaves in the right way. Nobody always does what God wants.
v21 Do not listen to everything that people say. You might hear your servant when he is insulting you in private. v22 But you know that you yourself have insulted other people many times.
v23 I tried to learn wisdom so that I could test all these things. ‘I have decided to be wise’, I said. But I could not be wise. v24 Nobody can understand all that has happened. There is so much more than we can understand. v25 I tried to understand more completely what wisdom is. I wanted to study the reason for things. It is stupid to be wicked. It is not good to be foolish. But I wanted to understand the reason for those things.
Verse 19 The wise people who give honor to God are strong. They will have the power to act in the right way. They will be more powerful than any wise group of leaders. In this verse, 10 may mean a number that is not definite. Or it may be the exact number of rulers in a city.
Verse 20 Romans 3:23 says that people everywhere *sin. People do wrong things and they think wrong thoughts. They *sin because they do not respect God’s importance. So they neglect what God wants. (For example, see James 4:17.)
Verses 21-22 This is an example of how to be wise. Other people may insult you. But the words that people say affect their whole character (James 3:2). Wise people do not worry when other people speak bad words about them. It is also wise to remember your own words and your own thoughts. You may have insulted people too. Perhaps your words have hurt other people.
Verses 23-25 ‘These things’ refers to verses 19-22. The Teacher had examined the power that wise people can have. He had also shown that even a wise person cannot be perfect. The Teacher thought in the end that he could not discover the answer to the problems in our lives. There is a limit to what a person can understand about very difficult matters. The purpose of our life is a mystery for everyone. Verse 25 may start a new section. That may explain why this verse seems to have an opposite meaning to verse 24. Then the next verses describe what the Teacher discovered.
People do bad things – Ecclesiastes 7:26-29
v26 I found that a bad woman may try to catch men in a trap. She may try to catch them with her hands. Her arms are like chains round men. She is more awful than death. The man who pleases God will escape from her. But she will catch people who do not obey God. v27 This is what I have discovered. I added one idea to another idea to discover everything about wisdom. v28 I searched continuously, but I could not work out the answer to everything. I found one good man among 1000 men. But I have not found one good woman among as many women as that. v29 I learnt just one thing. God created people who are honest and fair. And they want to discover what everything means in the world.
Verse 26 The Teacher has thought in a serious way about people’s characters. He thought in the end that some women want to catch men. They are like a hunter with a trap. These women want to see men do wrong things. This kind of woman will prevent people who want to escape from her. It was as if she tied up people with chains. This kind of woman may be someone who is attracting men to herself. She may want to have sex with them. But perhaps this ‘woman’ is a way to describe foolish ideas. These ideas cause people to do wrong things. The Book of Proverbs, in chapters 5 and 7, talks about foolish men. They agree when a woman suggests wrong things to them. Instead, we must be wise. We must not allow false ideas to attract us. If we respect God, then we will avoid the wrong thoughts. We know that these thoughts are like a trap. And bad women will try to persuade foolish men. In the *New Testament, the Christians who lived in the town called Colossae were in danger. That was because they were willing to believe false ideas. They needed to trust Christ only. Paul warned them not to become prisoners of those foolish ideas (Colossians 2:8).
Verses 27-28 The Teacher searched, but he did not find a good result. He found only a few good men. Perhaps he remembered Joseph from a long time ago. Joseph gave wise advice to the king in Egypt during a time when the crops did not grow. The king listened, and that advice saved the people (Genesis 41:33-40). The Teacher could not find a woman who was completely good. He thought that it would be very difficult. Perhaps that was because of Solomon’s own experiences with his many wives. But there were wise women in the Bible who were good, like Naomi (Ruth chapters 1 - 3) and Abigail (1 Samuel 25:2-25).
Verse 29 God created people who were honest and ‘fair’. The *Hebrew word for ‘fair’ also means ‘straight’. But this whole section is about people who do bad things. So this verse may refer to people who were not content to have good ‘straight’ characters. Instead, people used their clever thoughts to discover things for themselves. Then their minds became ‘bent’. This means that they were not fair or honest. They plotted wicked schemes.
The wise way to obey the people who have authority – Ecclesiastes 8:1-9
v1 Nobody else is like a wise man.
Nobody else can explain things so well.
Wisdom takes away the severe expression from a person’s face.
It causes a person to smile.
v2 You made a serious promise to God that you would serve the king. So you must obey the king’s commands. v3 Do not be in a hurry to leave the king. Do not argue with him. The king can do anything that he wants to do. v4 The king’s word is the law and king’s word is very powerful. So nobody would dare to ask what the king is doing.
v5 Whoever obeys the king’s command will not have trouble.
Wise people will know how to approach the king.
They will know the proper time to do things.
v6 There is a proper time and a proper way to do everything.
But a person may be unhappy because of his troubles.
v7 Nobody knows the future.
So nobody can tell a person what will happen.
v8 Nobody can control the wind.
And nobody can choose the day when they will die.
The army will not allow a soldier to leave during a war.
And wicked acts will not free a wicked person.
v9 I saw all these things and I thought seriously about them. I studied everything that people do on the earth. Sometimes a person has the power to hurt other people. But, in the end, a person who does that hurts himself.
Verse 1 The Teacher is telling us what a wise person is like. People’s faces usually show what sort of character they have. A wise person will not have a severe expression. Instead, wise people will have pleasant faces. This will show that they are kind people.
Verse 2 People made a serious promise to obey their king. All King David’s important officials and David’s other sons promised to be loyal to his son, Solomon (1 Chronicles 29:24). They asked God to be a witness to their promise. They made a serious promise to God. So they had to do what they had promised. If not, they had agreed that God should punish them.
Verses 3-4 To act against the king would be foolish. The king had absolute authority. So it was better to remain loyal to him. The king could punish people in whatever way that he chose. Nobody should ask him to explain his actions. Before the *Israelites had a king, God’s servant, Samuel, warned them. If they have a king, then they will have problems and difficulties (1 Samuel 8:10-18).
Verses 5-6 Wise people will choose the right time and the right way to approach the king. They will do right things and they will do them in the right way. Esther is one example. She chose the best way to speak to the king on behalf of the *Jews. She invited the king to eat some wonderful meals with her. So he became very curious (Esther 5:1-8). In every difficult situation, you must be wise and you must think carefully. You must consider the most suitable time and the most sensible way to act in that situation.
Verse 7 People feel unhappy because they cannot know their future. And nobody can help them to know about it.
Verse 8 There is a limit to people’s authority. Nobody can control the ‘wind’. This is the *Hebrew word ‘ruach’, which also means ‘*spirit’. So this ‘wind’ includes people’s *spirits. The same word also means ‘breath’. Death happens when a person does not breathe. Nobody can choose the day when they will die.
During a war, the army do not allow a soldier to leave. And, in the same way, wicked people cannot win the war against death.
Verse 9 People cannot choose how long they will live. But they do have the power to affect other people’s lives. They can cause trouble and pain for other people. And sometimes they can control other people. The *Hebrew words do not make it clear which person has the pain. It may refer to the person who is causing the pain. Or it may refer to the person who is receiving the pain. Both meanings are true. Those people who cause pain to other people damage their own character.
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