Ecclesiastes 7

Listen to Ecclesiastes 7

The Contrast of Wisdom and Folly

1 1A good name is better than precious ointment, and 2the day of death than the day of birth.
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will 3lay it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter, 4for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5 It is 5better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.
6 6For as the crackling of 7thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fools; this also is vanity.
7 Surely 8oppression drives the wise into madness, and 9a bribe corrupts the heart.
8 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and 10the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
9 11Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, 12for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
10 Say not, "Why were the former days better than these?" For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance, an advantage to those who 13see the sun.
12 For the protection of wisdom is like 14the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that 15wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.
13 Consider 16the work of God: 17who can make straight what he has made crooked?
14 18In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, 19so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.
15 In my 20vain life I have seen everything. There is 21a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who 22prolongs his life in his evildoing.
16 Be not overly righteous, and do not 23make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?
17 Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. 24Why should you die before your time?
18 It is good that you should take hold of 25this, and from 26that 27withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.
19 28Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.
20 Surely 29there 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 30your servant cursing you.
22 Your heart knows that 31many times you yourself have cursed others.
23 All this I have tested by wisdom. 32I said, "I will be wise," but it was far from me.
24 That which has been is far off, and 33deep, very deep; 34who can find it out?
25 35I 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 36bitter than death: 37the woman whose heart is 38snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God escapes her, but 39the sinner is taken by her.
27 Behold, this is what I found, says 40the 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. 41One man among a thousand I found, but 42a woman among all these I have not found.
29 See, this alone I found, that 43God made man upright, but 44they have sought out many schemes.

Images for Ecclesiastes 7

Ecclesiastes 7 Commentary

Chapter 7

The benefit of a good name; of death above life; of sorrow above vain mirth. (1-6) Concerning oppression, anger, and discontent. (7-10) Advantages of wisdom. (11-22) Experience of the evil of sin. (23-29)

Verses 1-6 Reputation for piety and honesty is more desirable than all the wealth and pleasure in this world. It will do more good to go to a funeral than to a feast. We may lawfully go to both, as there is occasion; our Saviour both feasted at the wedding of his friend in Cana, and wept at the grave of his friend in Bethany. But, considering how apt we are to be vain and indulge the flesh, it is best to go to the house of mourning, to learn the end of man as to this world. Seriousness is better than mirth and jollity. That is best for us which is best for our souls, though it be unpleasing to sense. It is better to have our corruptions mortified by the rebuke of the wise, than to have them gratified by the song of fools. The laughter of a fool is soon gone, the end of his mirth is heaviness.

Verses 7-10 The event of our trials and difficulties is often better than at first we thought. Surely it is better to be patient in spirit, than to be proud and hasty. Be not soon angry, nor quick in resenting an affront. Be not long angry; though anger may come into the bosom of a wise man, it passes through it as a way-faring man; it dwells only in the bosom of fools. It is folly to cry out upon the badness of our times, when we have more reason to cry out for the badness of our own hearts; and even in these times we enjoy many mercies. It is folly to cry up the goodness of former times; as if former ages had not the like things to complain of that we have: this arises from discontent, and aptness to quarrel with God himself.

Verses 11-22 Wisdom is as good as an inheritance, yea better. It shelters from the storms and scorching heat of trouble. Wealth will not lengthen out the natural life; but true wisdom will give spiritual life, and strengthen men for services under their sufferings. Let us look upon the disposal of our condition as the work of God, and at last all will appear to have been for the best. In acts of righteousness, be not carried into heats or passions, no, not by a zeal for God. Be not conceited of thine own abilities; nor find fault with every thing, nor busy thyself in other men's matters. Many who will not be wrought upon by the fear of God, and the dread of hell, will avoid sins which ruin their health and estate, and expose to public justice. But those that truly fear God, have but one end to serve, therefore act steadily. If we say we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves. Every true believer is ready to say, God be merciful to me a sinner. Forget not at the same time, that personal righteousness, walking in newness of life, is the only real evidence of an interest by faith in the righteousness of the Redeemer. Wisdom teaches us not to be quick in resenting affronts. Be not desirous to know what people say; if they speak well of thee, it will feed thy pride, if ill, it will stir up thy passion. See that thou approve thyself to God and thine own conscience, and then heed not what men say of thee; it is easier to pass by twenty affronts than to avenge one. When any harm is done to us, examine whether we have not done as bad to others.

Verses 23-29 Solomon, in his search into the nature and reason of things, had been miserably deluded. But he here speaks with godly sorrow. He alone who constantly aims to please God, can expect to escape; the careless sinner probably will fall to rise no more. He now discovered more than ever the evil of the great sin of which he had been guilty, the loving many strange women, ( 1 Kings ) found. How was he likely to find such a one among those he had collected? If any of them had been well disposed, their situation would tend to render them all nearly of the same character. He here warns others against the sins into which he had been betrayed. Many a godly man can with thankfulness acknowledge that he has found a prudent, virtuous woman in the wife of his bosom; but those men who have gone in Solomon's track, cannot expect to find one. He traces up all the streams of actual transgression to the fountain. It is clear that man is corrupted and revolted, and not as he was made. It is lamentable that man, whom God made upright, has found out so many ways to render himself wicked and miserable. Let us bless Him for Jesus Christ, and seek his grace, that we may be numbered with his chosen people.

Cross References 44

  • 1. Proverbs 22:1; [Song of Songs 1:3]
  • 2. Ecclesiastes 4:2
  • 3. [Psalms 90:12]
  • 4. [2 Corinthians 7:10]
  • 5. Proverbs 13:18; Proverbs 15:31, 32; [Psalms 141:5]
  • 6. [Joel 2:5]
  • 7. [Psalms 58:9; Psalms 118:12]
  • 8. [Ecclesiastes 4:1]
  • 9. Deuteronomy 16:19; See Proverbs 17:8
  • 10. See Proverbs 14:29
  • 11. [Proverbs 14:17; Proverbs 16:32; James 1:19]
  • 12. [Ephesians 4:26]
  • 13. Ecclesiastes 6:5; Ecclesiastes 11:7
  • 14. [Ecclesiastes 10:19]
  • 15. Proverbs 3:18
  • 16. [Ecclesiastes 3:11]
  • 17. [Ecclesiastes 1:15; Job 12:14; Isaiah 14:27]
  • 18. [Ecclesiastes 3:4, 22; Deuteronomy 28:47]
  • 19. [Ecclesiastes 3:22; Ecclesiastes 6:12]
  • 20. Ecclesiastes 6:12; Ecclesiastes 9:9
  • 21. See Ecclesiastes 8:14
  • 22. Ecclesiastes 8:12, 13
  • 23. [Romans 12:3]
  • 24. [Proverbs 10:27]; See Job 22:16
  • 25. [ver. 17]
  • 26. [ver. 16]
  • 27. Ecclesiastes 11:6
  • 28. Ecclesiastes 9:16, 18; Proverbs 21:22; Proverbs 24:5
  • 29. See 1 Kings 8:46
  • 30. Proverbs 30:10
  • 31. [Galatians 6:1]
  • 32. [Romans 1:22]
  • 33. [Romans 11:33]
  • 34. Job 28:12, 20; [1 Timothy 6:16]
  • 35. See Ecclesiastes 1:17
  • 36. Proverbs 5:4
  • 37. See Proverbs 2:16
  • 38. Proverbs 12:12; [Proverbs 23:28]
  • 39. Proverbs 22:14
  • 40. See Ecclesiastes 1:1
  • 41. Job 33:23; [ver. 20]
  • 42. [1 Kings 11:3]
  • 43. [Genesis 1:27]
  • 44. [Genesis 3:6, 7]

Chapter Summary


The wise man having exposed the many vanities to which men are subject in this life, and showed that there is no real happiness in all outward enjoyments under the sun; proceeds to observe what are remedies against them, of which he had interspersed some few hints before, as the fear and worship of God, and the free and, moderate use of the creatures; and here suggests more, and such as will protect from them, or support under them, or teach and instruct how to behave while attended with them, and to direct to what are proper and necessary in the pursuit of true and real happiness; such as care of a good name and reputation, Ec 7:1; frequent meditation on mortality, Ec 7:2-4; listening to the rebukes of the wise, which are preferable to the songs and mirth of fools, Ec 7:5,6; avoiding oppression and bribery, which are very pernicious, Ec 7:7; patience under provocations, and present bad times, as thought to be, Ec 7:8-10; a pursuit of that wisdom and knowledge which has life annexed to it, Ec 7:11,12; submission to the will of God, and contentment in every state, Ec 7:13,14; shunning extremes in righteousness and sin, the best antidote against which is the fear of God, Ec 7:15-18; such wisdom as not to be offended with everything that is done, or word that is spoken, considering the imperfection of the best of men, the weakness of others, and our own, Ec 7:19-22; and then the wise man acknowledges the imperfection of his own wisdom and knowledge, notwithstanding the pains he had taken, Ec 7:23-25; and laments his sin and folly in being drawn aside by women, Ec 7:26-28; and opens the cause of the depravity of human nature, removes it from God, who made man upright, and ascribes it to man, the inventor of evil things, Ec 7:29.

Ecclesiastes 7 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.