I Samuel 16:7 tells us that God does not see things the way man does (Ps. 139:2). There is no denying this fact if we know anything about the Bible and what it reveals about the mind of God. Today, instead of writing a long article detailing the teaching in these verses, I thought I would make a chart that contrasts God’s wisdom with man’s wisdom.
Please study the chart below. Note the contrasts between God’s wisdom and man’s, and then decide who you will follow.
A good name is better than riches (v. 1).
Riches are the most important thing -- better than one’s reputation.
Our death day is better than our birthday (v. 1).
The day of death is the worst day of one’s life (with only a few exceptions, such as an incurable, painful disease).
The house of mourning is better than the house of feasting (v. 2).
Feasting is better than mourning.
Sorrow is better than laughter (v. 3).
Laughter is better than sorrow.
Wise men are in the house of mourning (v. 4).
Wise men are in the house of mirth.
It is better to hear the wise man’s rebuke (v. 5).
It is better to hear encouragement.
The laughter of fools is as vain as expecting thorns to provide heat (v. 6).
The laughter of fools is to be desired.
Accepting bribes will corrupt you (v. 7)
There is nothing wrong with getting money “under the table” from time to time.
The end of a thing is better than the beginning (v. 8).
The beginning is better than the end.
The patient is better than the proud (v. 8).
Being proud is better than being patient.
Be slow to anger. Anger rests with the fools (v. 9; Jas. 1:19).
Becoming angry and “cracking heads” gets things done.
Don’t live in the past (v. 10).
The “good ol’ days” are better than what we have today.
This list from Ecclesiastes 7 teaches us much. Notice how these Bible facts from Ecclesiastes show that man’s ideas stand polar opposite to God’s intent. I find it interesting that the apostle Paul taught a very similar thing in I Corinthians 1:18-31 when he spoke of the preaching of the cross.
The ultimate question we must answer is: To whom will we listen? Will we listen to the world and follow “conventional wisdom” or listen to God and turn man’s wisdom on its head? Remember what David said about God’s wisdom (Ps. 119:98-100)? Listen to him! At the end of the day, we must decide for ourselves, and must face the consequences of that decision. As for me and my house, we want to listen to God. Who will you follow, friend?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Solomon declares that “a good name is better than precious ointment” (Ecc. 7:1). He wrote identical words in Proverbs 22:1. What makes a good “name” so important? Why would we want a good “name”?
First, understand that a good “name” speaks of a good reputation. What do people see when they see me? Be honest! Do people see a hypocrite or a genuine person? Do people see someone trying to serve God or self? It is a true statement that our actions speak louder than our words! Yes, we are known by what we do (Prov. 20:11; Matt. 7:16).
What are you doing? Do your actions match your speech? Do you tell people not to steal, even though you steal (Be it money, time on the job, dishonest on taxes, etc.)? Do you tell people not to commit adultery even though you are doing it (If you have never committed the act, remember adultery is possible in the heart, too, Matt. 5:27-28.), do you tell people to keep God’s law while you are breaking it? These are a few ways that we can be hypocrites and ruin a good name (Rom. 2:21-24).
Many seem not to care about their name or reputation, and yet, Solomon points out that there is something valuable in it (Ecc. 7:1; Prov. 22:1). What are we doing to preserve and grow the good name we have as citizens in our community? People need to know that we are honest, trustworthy, and kind people. Do folks know this about us? Men like Cornelius (Acts 10) and others stand out in my mind as having a good reputation among men, and this reputation has lasted through the years. Abel had a good reputation, and by it, “he being dead, yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4).
The best reputation we can have, however, is when we accept the name of Christ (Mk. 16:16; Acts 11:26). “There is none other name under heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus Christ lived for 33 years on this earth and had the best reputation of all. Though He was unjustly taken and killed, all recognized He died innocent of any crime and free from all sin (Matt. 27:19; Lk. 23:4, 14; Jn. 18:38, 19:4, 6; I Pet. 2:22). He then invites us, those who have sinned and marred our reputations, to accept His good name and be free from sin, giving us the ability to start over (II Cor. 5:17). We put to death the old man of sin and rise up a new man, ready to do the Lord’s will (Rom. 6:3-6). We can honestly say that we have a new life. There are things I used to do that I do not do anymore. At the same time, there are things I used to avoid and scoff at that now I do wholeheartedly! This is such a radical change that our Lord compares it to a birth (Jn. 3:3, 5)! The result is a new and better reputation than I ever had, and I don’t intend to ruin it. I understand that this “good name” (Christ’s name/reputation) is better than precious ointment, riches, or anything that this world has to offer (Prov. 22:1; Ecc. 7:1). It is for this reason that all I say and do is done “in the name of” (in connection with the reputation of) Christ (Col. 3:17)! I strive daily to do nothing that would mar Christ’s reputation that He has offered to me.
Would you like to have such a good reputation? Do you realize that the only way this is possible is to start over? In Christ, you can have such a beginning! If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), and are willing to repent of your sins (Lk. 13:3). If you will confess your faith in Christ (Rom. 10:10) and then be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), you can be saved (Mk. 16:16)! You can have a new start (II Cor. 5:17). You can have a new name (Acts 11:26), which means a new reputation and a new beginning.
Start over today and see the blessings that come when we do things the Lord’s way. Become a Christian and see this wonderful reputation, and know that it is worth preserving, protecting, and promoting through the rest of your life! This “good name” is the best name! Become a Christian today.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
No less than nine times in Ecclesiastes (1:14, 17, 2:11, 17, 22, 26, 4:4, 6, 16, 6:9), Solomon laments the fact that much of life is “grasping for the wind” (NKJV). The ESV uses the term “striving for the wind.” The KJV calls it “vexation of spirit.” The idea is that there are things we do that are worthless or a waste of time. Have you ever done anything that was a waste of time? We all have, haven’t we? Solomon says that this description (“grasping for the wind”) applies to various areas of life such as::
- The works under the sun (1:14).
- Wisdom, madness, and folly (1:17).
- Labor (2:11, 17, 22)
- Envying others (4:4).
- Hands full of travail (4:6).
- Wandering of desire (i.e., constantly craving more, 6:9).
What a list! It seems that most of what we do (and what is glamorized) on earth is wasteful or trying to grasp wind, according to Solomon! Realizing this truth can be very depressing. What is the purpose of living if so much of what the world calls essential is a waste of time and energy, according to these passages? Is there anything we can do that is not a waste? God gives us the answer. New Testament passages such as I Corinthians 15:58 say that we can do things that are not a waste of time and energy. Paul wrote, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
The words from Ecclesiastes and Corinthians are not contradictory. Rather, these passages emphasize one’s motivation. Why do you do what you do? Is it to achieve some selfish purpose? Is it to satisfy a lust (Jas. 1:14-15)? Working to please self is unprofitable. Conversely, when my focus is on God, and my labor is “in the Lord,” it is not in vain.
Solomon and Paul teach us to consider not only what you do, but also why you do it. Let’s be active in working for the Lord rather than working for self (Matt. 6:33).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
A phrase found 29 times in the book of Ecclesiastes is “under the sun.” Solomon used four other synonymous terms in his book as well. These are “under heaven” (3x), “upon the earth” (1x), “see the sun” (1x), and “behold the sun” (1x) in this short book.
These terms help us to understand the focus and emphasis of the book. Solomon contrasts life “under the sun,” i.e., our earth-life when we look solely at the physical side of things, with the spiritual reality when we live life for God. Foy Wallace once said of this book that Solomon contrasted, “earthly vanity with eternal verity.” The point being that when we look at life as merely, “We’re born, we live, we die,” there is little reason to have hope.
Yet, when we look at life through the lens of spiritual truth and service to God (Ecc. 12:13), we see something far different. We have a reason to wake up every day! We have a reason to live and endure suffering at times. We have an endless hope awaiting us rather than a hopeless end!
How our world needs to hear this news today! There are multitudes today who see life only as, “We’re born, we live, we die.” Some people say they want to make this world (earth) a better place for their children. This is kind. Yet, they do not make any preparations for their souls and the eternity they will face (Ecc. 9:10-11, 12:13-14). What good is it if we have a clean earth and dirty souls? What do we profit if we gain the whole world and yet lose our souls (Matt. 16:26)?
Have you read Ecclesiastes in a while? Have you ever read it? Let these words be the motivation for you to read this book and see the great contrast that lies here. Solomon’s words in the book are not random statements. They have a context, purpose, and meaning (Rom. 15:4)! Let us get serious and get our priorities straight! Ultimately, this is what this book is about -- an older man, the “Preacher” (Koheleth, 1:1-2, 12, 7:27, 12:8-10), calling the generations of young people to him to instruct them on what is most important.
Don’t let Satan distract you with what happens “under the sun.” Listen to the Lord, and focus on those things that are beyond the sun (Col. 3:1-4).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs