Ecclesiastes 7

1Remedies against the vanity of life are, a good name, 2mortification, 7patience, 11wisdom, or a considerate and prudent conduct. 23The difficulty of getting wisdom. 25The result of the Preacher's researches.

1A GOOD name isa1better than 2precious ointment; and the 3day of death than the day of one's birth.

a Prov. 22:1.

1 Namely, (with God and honest people) obtained by reason of their piety and godliness. See Jesus Syrach chapters 44; 45; 46; 47; 48; 49, etc.

2 Understand here pleasant sweet, smelling ointment or oil, which the Jews held in great esteem. Or, precious ointment to heal wounds and sores. See Psalm 133:2. Some understand by good oil or ointment all manner of pleasant or delightful things.

3 Namely, when a man dies godly and piously. Compare Rom. 7:24; Philip. 1:23. For then a man attains to everlasting happiness, instead of his wretched transitory life.

2It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for 4that 5is the end of all men; and the living will 6lay it to his heart.

4 Namely, the house of mourning.

5 That is, there we may behold examples of the transitoriness of people’s life and the power of death over all people, who or in what condition so ever they be.

6 Namely, what he sees there before his eyes, having well observed what is the end of people’s life, and how one ought to prepare themselves for death.

37Sorrow is better than laughter: for by 8the sadness of the countenance the heart 9is made better.

7 Or, mourning. That is, it is better to have Godly sorrow and to mourn over one’s sins than to have worldly joy; for, Godly sorrow is good for the soul; it worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of, 2 Cor. 7:10. Other, Anger is better than laughing, for a stern countenance makes the heart cheerful, that is, it is better to reprove sinners sharply and with a stern countenance than to flatter them with laughing words; for reproofs are good to bring sinners to amendment.

8 Hebr. the anger or disturbance of the countenance. See Gen. 40 on verse 7.

9 Namely, when being departed out of the way by prosperity, it is humbled and brought unto the right way again by grief and heaviness.

410The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

10 The sense is: The wise, with all their heart, go readily into the house of mourning or the house of sadness. And though they are not present with their bodies in the house of mourning, yet they are sorrowful with the sorrowful, and compassionate with the afflicted. In the house of mourners a man learns to be humble and low, but in the house of mirth a man learns to be unruly and wanton.

511It isb better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear 12the song of fools.

11 He intimates that this is also happiness in this life that one endures reproof willingly at the hand of pious and virtuous men, whenever he has sinned, that he might thereby escape damnation. And for a man to loath and abhor the vain delights and flatteries of those who fear not God.

b Prov. 13:18; 15:31, 32.

12 That is, the vain mirth and the praise, the embracing, the flattering or gratifying, which many do love to hear as a pleasant song.

6For asc13the crackling of thorns 14under a pot, so is 15the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.

c Psalm 58:9.

13 The loud crackling of thorns under a pot is no pleasant music to the ear, and the fire of thorns does not last long. So the godly takes no delight in hearing the flattery and loud laughter of fools, which kind of mirth and jollity soon vanishes.

14 Namely, which hangs and seethes on the fire.

15 Whereby he divulges that he takes delight in him who does evil.

7¶Surely 16oppression maketh a wise man mad; and 17a gift destroyeth the heart.

16 That is, when a wise man himself is extremely afflicted with sorrows and miseries, it will make him sometimes do or speak what befits a fool rather than a wise man. Examples see in Job and David. Other, when a man is deceived, that maketh a wise man to lose his senses. Or, oppression, that is, wealth or estate taken from a man by oppression, etc.

17 It corrupts the understanding of man, namely, when the judge takes gifts or bribes of those who have causes to be tried before him. See Exod. 23:8; Deut. 16:19.

8Better is 18the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and 19the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

18 Namely, the end of a good thing; and therefore a wise man always has an eye upon the end of the things which he takes in hand, and though the means whereby a good business is performed, be hard and bitter, yet (eying the end which a man intends) he ought to go on and persevere therein with patience and forbearance. The event or issue is sometimes better than it appears itself in the beginning.

19 Hebr. one that is long of spirit. Compare Num. 14:18. Also in the following: proud in spirit.

920Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.

20 He speaks of an improper anger which continues long, and, taking place in the heart of man, it turns into hatred. Otherwise there is also a lawful and commendable anger, namely, in wise men, who are sometimes angry upon good grounds and for just causes, but bear not evil anger long in their bosom or in their heart. Of the word bosom or lap, see Job 19 on verse 27.

1021Say not thou, What is the cause that 22the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.

21 Namely, as murmuring against God’s government, as wanting to say: Why does God govern the world as such? What is hereof the cause? Otherwise it is lawful to lament the wickedness and misery of the times, being heartily sorrowful, that the world the longer it continues, the more wicked it grows, and that therefore also plagues and judgments are multiplied.

22 The years or times past.

1123Wisdom is good 24with an inheritance: and by it there is profit 25to them that see the sun.

23 He wants to say: It is an excellent thing for a man to have both wisdom and wealth together in this life.

24 That is, with riches, which a man inherits or gets by an inheritance.

25 That is, those who live in this world have profit by it, for riches avail not those who are gone out of the world.

12For 26wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the 27excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.

26 The meaning is: Wisdom and temporal wealth serve a man for a defense against hurt or mishaps that may befall him, as a shadow serves a man for a covering or shelter against the scorching heat of the sun. Other, For they are in the shadow of wisdom, and in the shadow of money.

27 That is, herein exceeds wisdom and her excellence is far beyond that of money and goods, in that she gives life to those who enjoy her. By wisdom here is to be meant true wisdom, which is the true knowledge of God, and of His laws or commandments; this (namely, this wisdom) gives life, namely, everlasting life. Yet others understand here by life, rest, peace, contentment of mind or heart, which is true life indeed.

1328Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?

28 As if he said: Wilt thou have rest and peace in thy heart and mind, then be therewith content, that thou knowest, that it is the work of God that which daily happens, and that it is God’s pleasure it should be so; no man can hinder or alter that which God has once decreed or done, Job 12:14. Therefore we ought not to vex and trouble ourselves about those things which we daily see and hear, seeing they cannot be altered or changed by any counsel or act of man. See Job 12:14; Eccl. 1:15.

14In the day 29of prosperity 30be joyful, but in the day 31of adversity 32consider: God also hath set 33the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing 34after him.

29 Hebr. of good, that is, when it goes well with you, when God blesses you with much goods or riches.

30 Hebr. be in the thing that is good, that is, be merry and cheerful.

31 Hebr. of evil.

32 Namely, so that you remember that evil also comes from God and that you ought therefore to bear it patiently. Other, look to, namely, the work of God, whereof is spoken in verse 13. Other, heed, namely, to the cause, which is the righteous and wise government of God, Who oftentimes chastises and tries the godly for their good. Other, consider the day of adversity, that is, in prosperity think of adversity, which may befall you from the hand of God.

33 Hebr. this over against or next to that, namely, day. The meaning is: The day of prosperity and the day of adversity are both from God, and these two contrary times He has set and appointed one against the other, so that a man is not always in prosperity, neither always in adversity; therefore he ought always, both in prosperity, and also in adversity to think of a change, enjoying prosperity cheerfully (yet not without looking about him) and bearing adversity patiently, with the expectation of a better.

34 Namely, after God, that is, that man only would look up to God’s foreordination and government, without desiring to search or inquire into this or that thing without God or outside of God. Other, after him, namely, that shall be after that man. Other, in such a manner that man should be able to find nothing after him that is, God has ordained all things so wisely that no man after Him is able to find or devise anything better.

15All things have I seen 35in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that 36perisheth 37in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.

35 That is, during my vain and transitory life.

36 Whether he be oppressed by wicked men (who cannot endure the godly), or whether God the Lord takes him soon out of this world into a better life, as happened to Josiah, 2 Chron. 35:23, 24.

37 That is, when he gave himself to virtue and therein daily proceeded.

1638Be not righteous over much; neither 39make thyself over wise: 40why shouldest thou destroy thyself?

38 That is, be not too strict to search too narrowly into your neighbor’s words and actions, and to punish them too severely. Others take it in this sense: Do that which you are commanded to do, and do it faithfully, but do not more than you are commanded or than your calling requires.

39 This is spoken against curious spirits who think by their wisdom to search and find the deep secrets of God, Rom. 12:3, or who desire to know more than God has revealed to us in His Word.

40 That is, why would you bring yourself into harm and disgrace, desiring to appear more godly, more virtuous and more wise and understanding than others, by searching and diving too deep into the secret mysteries of God, Prov. 3:7; Rom. 12:3, 16.

1741Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: 42why shouldest thou die before thy time?

41 That is, do not give yourself over to gross sins. Or, let not sin reign in your mortal body, as the apostle exhorts, Rom. 6:12.

42 As if he said: You would otherwise be surely punished by the magistrate, and, before the natural time of death comes, be torn away from the earth. Compare Job 15:32; Psalm 37:13.

18It is good that thou shouldest take hold 43of this; yea, also 44from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God 45shall come forth of them all.

43 Namely, to that whereof mention is made in verse 16.

44 Namely, from what is said in verse 17, or that which I shall further say. Some apply both exhortations to what was spoken in general in the two previous verses.

45 That is, he departs from both extremes, namely, from being too righteous and from being too unrighteous or wicked, (escaping thereby the miseries that are wont to follow thereon) and keeping the middle road, wherein all virtue consists.

19Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than 46ten mighty men which are in the city.

46 That is, many. See Gen. 31:7; Prov. 21:22; 24:5; Eccl. 9:16.

20Fordthere is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

d 1 Kings 8:46, 47; 2 Chron. 6:36; Prov. 20:9; 1 John 1:8.

2147Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:

47 That is, examine not too closely to know what men say of you, neither regard it over much; for if you would do so, it might easily be that you would hear much against your will that your own servants speak ill of you; many things that are spoken you must let pass without regarding it.

22For oftentimes also 48thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed 49others.

48 That is, your own conscience.

49 Those who have wronged you, or whom you thought (through false information from others) that they had done you wrong.

23¶All this have I proved by wisdom: 50I said, I will be wise; but 51it was far from me.

50 Namely, within myself, that is, I thought, I imagined myself, that I would obtain perfect wisdom.

51 For a man can never attain to a perfect knowledge of all things and the causes thereof.

2452That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?

52 Other thus: It is far that which hath been, that is, that which was long ago, men have not much knowledge thereof. And what knowledge (I pray) can they have of things that are altogether deep and hidden as how God governs the world and all things that are therein, and especially what shall come to pass in future times? See Job 38; 39; 40; 41; Rom. 11:33, 34. Very deep. Hebr. deep, deep. See Gen. 25 on verse 30.

2553I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and 54the reason of things, and toe know the wickedness of folly, 55even of foolishness and madness:

53 Namely, with my thoughts.

54 The Hebrew word signifies the summation of a speech, which from certain premises is inserted and summed up by the conclusion.

e Eccl. 1:17; 2:12.

55 Other, and foolishness, and absurdities.

26And I find moref bitter than death the woman, whose heart is 56snares and nets, and her hands as bands: 57whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but 58the sinnerg shall be taken by her.

f Prov. 5:3; 6:24, etc.; 7:6, etc.

56 Such are wont to be spread for wild beasts in which to catch them. He speaks of an unchaste and immodest woman, who, by her crafty and sweet deceitful words, seeks to ensnare men in uncleanness, to catch them in her nets, and to hold them fast therein. See Prov. 2:16, 17; 5:3, 6; 6:24; 7:6, etc.; 9:13. Such a woman is to be shunned and avoided more than death itself.

57 As if he said: No man can escape the deceit of such a wicked woman, unless God, by His special grace and aid, delivers him from her, as He delivered Joseph from the unchaste wife of Potiphar, See Eccl. 2:26.

58 That is, such a one who daily resorts himself to the committing of gross sins. See Psalm 1 on verse 1.

g Prov. 6:26; 7:23; 22:14.

27Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, 59to find out the account:

59 That is, to come to a resolution and conclusion.

2860Which yet 61my soul seeketh, but I find not: 62one man among a thousand have I found; but 63a woman among 64all those have I not found.

60 The meaning of these and the next following words appear to be this: After I had sought a long while to know the true basis of all things, I found nothing else but this, that I have yet found still nothing; that is, I am therein affirmed by experience, that I lack the knowledge of very many things. Other, That which my soul yet seeketh, I have not found the same.

61 That is, I.

62 Hebr. adam, that is, a man. The contrast shows that adam signifies here a man. Among a thousand, namely, people, or men.

63 Other, but a woman endued with all those things, intimating, that there are very few men found, who are wise, good, prudent and of great knowledge and understanding, but yet far less such women. See Prov. 31:10. The words one and none are here taken for few and fewer, namely, in comparison to the others. While many godly men and women are otherwise mentioned in the Old and New Testament.

64 Namely, among the thousand (that is, many) people, or among the women.

29Lo, 65this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but 66they have 67sought out many 68inventions.

65 As if he said: Yet this is a sure thing that all mankind, both men and women, are corrupt and sinful. However, no blame can be laid upon God, for He made man good, and after His own image, but all the blame lies upon man himself, who brought himself and all his posterity into that wretched and damnable condition, by the seduction and instigation of the devil, and by his own willful disobedience.

66 Namely, the people.

67 And they seek them still, while they are fallen from that glorious state wherein they were created and placed by God.

68 Namely, wicked, naughty, evil devices or practices.