Ecclesiastes 7 (1)
Pray Psalm 49.15.
But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave,
For He shall receive me.
Read Ecclesiastes 7.1.
1. Which thing mentioned in the first part of verse 1 lasts longer?
2. Which day of life did Solomon prefer?
Solomon tries to get his son to focus on things that last.
Precious ointment may be of great value, but it is not to be compared with a good name. One’s name, in the sense of his reputation, memory, or legacy, can endure for many generations; therefore, he is wise who lives for the generations.
We should not read the second part of this verse as suggesting that dying is better than living; that’s not Solomon’s point. Biblical faith, while mindful of the past and anchored to the present, is a future-oriented faith. Those who live “under heaven” know that the full realization of their hope lies beyond time and history; thus, they live in the present in the light of past promises and blessings, ever moving toward their future hope of glory (2 Pet. 3.1-13).
The fool, on the other hand, thinks only about present pleasures. But they don’t satisfy, and, as we’ve seen, people “under the sun” have nothing beyond this life to hope for, and they can sometimes think they’d be better off never having been born.
It’s all a matter of perspective: “under the sun” or “under heaven”.
There are many advantages to teaching in proverbs, as Solomon is doing here. Proverbs encapsulate common sense or everyday observations which are generally received with agreement. Proverbs are also easily memorized and can sometimes convey memorable images. They can also include an element of surprise – a kind of “aha!” moment.
Just as Solomon employed a wide range of literary genre in order to reach his son, Scripture does the same. It is a measure of the grace of God that He goes to such varied lengths to communicate truth to self-centered, live-for-the-moment people such as we.
1. What do we mean by saying that Christians live for the future? How does that affect our lives in the present?
2. Being born is a good thing. But for the Christian, dying is even better. Why?
3. How do people “under the sun” prepare for death? How do people “under heaven” prepare for death?
Whoever does not focus attention on perishable goods and does not think highly of them but knows that “it is better to be with Christ after death” thinks that the day of death is better than the day of birth. The latter is the beginning of many evils; the former, however, the end and termination of evil. Didymus the Blind (313-398), Commentary on Ecclesiastes 197.14
I want to be ready, Lord, for whenever You choose to take me to Yourself. So today, help me to…
Pray Psalm 49.1-6.
Use this psalm to pray for the unbelieving people in your Personal Mission Field. How do these verses lead you to pray? How will they hear the Word of God?
Sing Psalm 49.1-6, 15.
Psalm 49.1-6, 15 (Sagina: And Can It Be, That I Should Gain)
Hear this, you peoples, low and high; give ear as wisdom I proclaim:
My heart with understanding fills to hear and sing my Savior’s fame.
Why should I fear when foes arise, who trust in wealth and boast in lies?
Refrain v. 15
My God redeems my soul from hell!
His grace and mercy let me tell!
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).