Wisdom for Living Under the Sun
Take a stroll through the self-help aisle at your local bookstore; read all the advice columns in this month’s magazines; and take the advice of every person you know. Then take all their collected wisdom and try to live by it. Where would it get you? Confused, contradicted, disappointed and exhausted.
The purpose of Ecclesiastes is to tell us what life is like when we live as if there is no God. Chapter 6 ends with two questions that chapter 7 will attempt to answer: (1) Who knows what is good for us as we live our fleeting lives?; and (2) Who, if anyone, can tell us what comes after this life?
As much as we might try to ignore the brevity of our lives in these bodies, the way we answer the question of what comes after this life will determine how we see the best way to live the brief days we have on this earth.Therefore, our lives may be better spent at times in mourning than in partying; receiving rebuke by wise friends than the songs of fools. If there is life after this life, then laughter at the expense of sober reflection and thought can be as noisy and empty as “crackling thorns under a pot.”
Ecclesiastes 7:11 (ESV) — 11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun.
Will the way you live your life today reflect your understanding that we are offered eternal life after the grave? Will your thoughts? Will your laughter or tears? They must.
Some additional words on 7:16-18:
At first glance, these seem to be confusing verses. What is meant by the instruction not to be overly righteous or to make oneself too wise? These words appear to be in contradiction with the rest of the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament (Psalms-Song of Solomon). What “the Preacher” is saying is that one should not be too wise or righteous in his own eyes. In other words, one should not insist that he/she is always right, but be open to the correction and wisdom of others. Not to do so is to invite destruction on yourself. Do you have a hard time admitting fault or considering if the correction of others is needed in your life? Be warned.
On the other hand, one should also not foolishly assume that he/she is never right and blindly follow the lead of others. This too would lead to a premature death.
What then is the answer? Verse 18 tells us clearly – fear God. God and His Word are the authority to which we humbly submit our “wisdom” and the “wisdom” of others. Only through the fear of God can we find wisdom.