<< Previous | Index | Next >>"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES" Counsel For Balanced Living (Ec 7:15-29) INTRODUCTION 1. In our previous study (Ec 7:1-14), the Preacher provided counsel for a better life... a. Honor is better than luxury b. Your deathday is better than your birthday c. A funeral is better than a party d. The end is better than the beginning e. Patience is better than pride f. The present is better than the past g. Wisdom is better than wealth h. Resignation is better than indignation -- Such counsel is designed to make the best out of life, especially since life "under the sun" is vanity 2. As we consider the latter half of chapter seven... a. There are rather challenging and difficult statements b. Which should be understood in their context, and the context of the Bible as a whole [It appears the Preacher is counseling against extremism, especially in the first section, where we find advice to...] I. DO THINGS IN MODERATION (Ec 7:15-22) A. EXTREMES CAN CREATE PROBLEMS... 1. One of life's vanities is that the righteous don't always prosper, nor do the wicked always suffer - Ec 7:15 a. Here the Preacher saw that which Job's friends did not 1) They reasoned that the righteous never suffer, only the wicked - cf. Job 4:7-8 2) Yet Job, like the Preacher, knew that this was not always the case - cf. Job 21:7-9 b. Of course, both Job and the Preacher knew the ultimate end of the wicked 1) The wicked are reserved for the day of doom and wrath - Job 21:30 2) It will be well for those who fear God - Ec 8:123 2. One should avoid extremism in seeking to be righteous and wise - Ec 7:16 a. There is a righteousness to be avoided (i.e., "self- righteousness") 1) Righteousness born of pride and arrogance - e.g., Lk 18:10-14 2) The Pharisees were a classic case of being "overly righteous" - cf. Mt 23:1-33 b. There is also a wisdom to be avoided 1) Wisdom of this world - cf. 1 Co 3:18-20 2) It too is born out of pride and arrogance 3. One should also avoid extremism in wickedness and foolishness - Ec 7:17 a. Not that "a little wickedness and folly" is ever acceptable to God! b. But God is longsuffering and provides opportunity for sinners to repent - 2 Pe 3:9 c. While His anger and wrath might be moved to cut off those who arrogantly and openly despise Him - e.g., Ac 12:21-23 B. DON'T REFRAIN FROM TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND WISDOM... 1. One should still fear God - Ec 7:18 a. Understanding the dangers of extremism is important b. But the fear of God remains the key to true knowledge and pleasing God - cf. Pro 1:7; Ec 8:12 2. Wisdom does have its place - Ec 7:19 a. Better than ten rulers (or mighty men) of a city! b. Better than strength - cf. Ec 9:13-18 3. Yet no one is perfect - Ec 7:20 a. Even as the Psalmist declared - Psa 14:1-3 b. As the apostle Paul taught - Ro 3:23 C. DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING PEOPLE SAY... 1. You may sometimes hear others say bad things about you - Ec 7:21 2. You have said things that were unkind about others - Ec 7:22 -- So don't take what you hear too seriously (i.e., don't be so "righteously" indignant) [The sense of this section seems to be one of being "balanced", not over-reacting such that you overshoot your true goal, which is to please God. Along the same vein, one should also remember that as valuable as wisdom may be...] II. WISDOM ALONE IS NOT THE ANSWER (Ec 7:23-29) A. SOME QUESTIONS WISDOM CAN'T ANSWER... 1. The Preacher had proved some things by wisdom - Ec 7:23a 2. But others things were too deep and far off - Ec 7:23-24; cf. Isa 55:8-9 B. A WICKED WOMAN IS CERTAINLY TO BE AVOIDED... 1. He applied his heart to know wisdom and folly - Ec 7:25 2. What he found more bitter than death was the wicked woman - Ec 7:26; cf. Pro 5:3-5 C. GOOD PEOPLE ARE HARD TO FIND... 1. Seeking for a good man, he found only one in a thousand - Ec 7:27-28a; cf. Psa 12:1 2. A good woman was even rarer - Ec 7:28b a. Perhaps the Preacher (Solomon) was reflecting upon his experience with his 700 wives and 300 concubines; certainly not a good sampling! - cf. 1 Ki 11:1-3 b. Even King Lemuel thought a good woman was hard to find - Pro 31:10 3. Of course, the problem is not with God... a. He made man upright - Ec 7:29a b. But man has gone after many evil things - Ec 7:29b; cf. Jer 4:22 CONCLUSION 1. Man's pride tends to propel him to go to extremes... a. Those not content to obey His Word often seek out many sinful deeds b. Even those seeking righteousness can go too far (e.g., where "righteous indignation" becomes "self-righteous indignation") 2. Of course, the solution is not to refrain from righteousness and wisdom... a. But to seek after it humbly - cf. Mt 5:3-6 b. And to apply gentleness, patience, and humility in all things, even toward those who are opposing God! - cf. 2 Ti 2:24-25; 1 Pe 3:1-2 This is consistent with the Preacher's "Counsel For A Balanced Life", and which if followed, helps any man or woman be this "one in a thousand"...<< Previous | Index | Next >>
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