Text: Ecclesiastes 7:13-29
King Solomon has been able to identify cycles in life. Some of these cycles are very broad, taking months or years to complete. Entertained and distracted people have very little ability to identify cycles. That’s more problematic when the cycles are about their own lives. For instance, you may have put sin in motion years ago that affects your personality, and your personality affects your family or your job. But you can’t see more than five minutes in any direction, so everything that happens to you is someone else’s fault. I mention this because Solomon is going to describe four ways man makes life harder for himself. Since one of Solomon’s points has been you should try to be content and enjoy things when you can, these are four reasons man can’t be content. Here are four ways man makes his life worse. Look at 7:29. It sort of sums up these thoughts. The inventions mean man finds ways to mess up good things.
Quit trying to control things beyond your control (vss 13-14)
- Wisdom is learning to yield to things beyond your control contently
- There are many things about life that you can’t change.
- If God has said this is what this is or this is what my judgment is, the wise yield to the work of God.
- The wise find ways to be content and productive within those boundaries.
- The fool in pride kicks against the inevitable.
- The fool is constantly trying to distract himself from the boundaries he lives in. Or he’s trying to tear walls down that he can’t tear down.
- Learning to accept and work within the realities of life is part of wisdom and contributes to your contentment.
- The time you live is something you can’t change
- Verse 14 continues the thought of living within boundaries you can’t change.
- You live through good times and you live through bad times, most of which happen to you. You don’t make them happen.
- So what’s the wise thing to do? In prosperity, rejoice. In adversity, consider.
Quit trying to be something you’re not (vss 15-20)
- Solomon continues to explain that not everything in life can be figured out. Solomon has seen wicked people live long and righteous people die early.
- Wisdom is being content in things you don’t understand
- Overrighteous means self-righteousness. And it is destructive.
- To illustrate the first part of verse 16, the Pharisees destroyed themselves by being righteous over much. They missed the righteousness of Jesus Christ by their excessive self-righteousness (Romans 10:1-4; 9:31-32).
- Overwise means you think you’re smarter than you are
- To illustrate the part of verse 16 that says, neither make thyself over wise, all you have to do is check out a researcher or professor who has thrown God in the trash can because he’s been educated out of that superstitious stuff. Paul said, the world by wisdom knew not God, (1 Corinthians 1:21). That’s making yourself over wise.
- Over wicked means you have no expectation of holiness
- It’s the opposite end of the self-righteousness spectrum.
- B/c you’re a dirty rotten sinner why bother with anything holy?
- Much of this thought has bled into the courtroom where there are all kinds of justifications for people doing horrible things.
- Over foolish means you just claim ignorance to justify yourself
- Sometimes it’s like a hillbilly mentality. You just play dumb and you hope God just plays along with you.
- Much of this thought has also bled into the courtroom where there are justifications for people doing ignorant things.
- Verse 20 means that you don’t have one without the other.
- The just man does good and sins also. Solomon is making the point about these two extremes being present in one person.
- Doing good and sinning are present simultaneously just as Paul said they were. It follows the previous thoughts about being overrighteous and overwicked.
- (Romans 7:21-25) I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
- Verse 18 is the point that fearing God is the chief end and good because not everything can be understood and most things cannot be changed.
- He that feareth God shall come forth of them all. This fear of God will be part of Solomon’s conclusion on life. Everything can’t be figured out. But enough can be understood to know that God is right, loving, and worthy to be feared
- Solomon has said thus far that there is too much contradiction in this life to figure it out. Why do bad people live long, but good people die young? Yet, amid injustice, you can still fear God and live patiently through injustice and nonsense.
Quit trying to hear things you shouldn’t hear (vss 21-24)
- Wisdom is discretion
- Wisdom is ignoring certain voices and avoiding the temptation to get into people’s business in a way that may hurt your feelings.
- Instead of stalking and listening for secrets whether in person or online, get your emotions under control.
- You’ll hear things you don’t want to hear, so stop listening.
- All your snooping around and you find out things you don’t want to. It’s better left in secret. Don’t snoop, you’ll find out things you don’t want to find out.
- And bear in mind that you’re finding fault with the same things you do to other people.
- Psalm 38:12-15 describes this perfectly.
- Finally, Solomon applies this principle of discretion to life’s endless questions in verses 23-24. He wanted to find stuff out about life just like you want to find stuff out about gossip.
- Then he applied the rule of discretion. If I keep digging I may find out something I don’t want to find out.
- Or, I’ll misinterpret what I’m seeing and come to a bad conclusion just like if you heard only part of a story.
- If it’s buried that far, maybe I shouldn’t be looking for it.
Quit getting close to people who are selfish and unstable (vss 25-28)
- Wisdom is the ability to avoid an angry woman
- Wickedness is something people do. So Solomon attempts to figure out what is behind someone’s malicious desire to be a terrible person. And he finds many women who love seeing people hurt, and who seem to derive their purpose in life from who they destroy.
- Some say it’s a trauma in life that causes this Satanic ambition. But trauma doesn’t turn everyone wicked. There is something about these women that enjoy seeing people in pain. And it’s a Satanic character to have.
- The sinner is taken in by her. Whether she knows it or not, she is a trap. She may be attractive, but character-wise, you’ll wish you never met her.
- Whoso pleaseth God shall escape (vs 26)
- The faithful aren’t caught though. They are turned off by the “red flags” of this type of person.
- Divine guidance keeps them safe. Not that God supernaturally builds a hedge of protection around them. The LORD simply shows them a path to walk that avoids the trap.
If only man would quit messing up what God has done! (vs 29)