Study Guide

Ecclesiastes Chapter 7

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Chapter 7

Grimace and Bear It

  • It's better, according to Ecclesiastes, to have a good name than valuable things like "precious ointment." Also, it's still better to die than to be born.
  • He goes on to say that the wise person learns through sorrow and mourning, whereas the fool only learns through laughter and enjoyment. But this leads to a paradox: "by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad" (7:3). The laughter of fools is called "vanity," too, by the way.
  • Ecclesiastes cautions against anger and pride and advocates patience and wisdom. He also says you shouldn't ask why the old days were so much better—this isn't a wise way of thinking.
  • He implies that no one can try to correct or smooth out God's plans.

Whoa! Let's Not Go Overboard 

  • It's fine to be wise and righteous and all. But don't overdo it. Ecclesiastes says you can destroy yourself by trying too hard to be good, and some wicked people actually extend their lives through evildoing.
  • It's almost impossible not to do any bad-deeds, even for the most righteous.
  • And since you know how bad people can be, don't try to eavesdrop on the nasty things your servants are saying about you. You know how people are. It's just a recipe for trouble.

Ancient Misogyny 

  • Ecclesiastes praises wisdom some more. Now, he's saying that wisdom actually is really good, and folly and foolishness are pretty bad.
  • Now, seemingly out of nowhere, there's an outburst of woman hating. Ecclesiastes vents against women who seduce and entrap men and goes on to say (or seems to say—the verse is a little obscure) that an honest man is about one in a thousand, but there are no honest women. Yikes.

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