INTERESTING FACTS : Henry Marchant, MEMBER OF THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS; ATTORNEY GENERAL OF RHODE ISLAND; RATIFIER OF THE U. S. CONSTITUTION; FEDERAL JUDGE APPOINTED BY PRESIDENT GEORGE WASHINGTON
"And may God grant that His grace may really affect your heart with suitable impressions of His goodness. Remember that God made you, that God keeps you alive and preserves you from all harm, and gives you all the powers and the capacity whereby you are able to read of Him and of Jesus Christ, your Savior and Redeemer, and to do every other needful business of life. And while you look around you and see the great privileges and advantages you have above what other children have (of learning to read and write, of being taught the meaning of the great truths of the Bible), you must remember not to be proud on that account but to bless God and be thankful and endeavor in your turn to assist others with the knowledge you may gain."
Daily Reading : ECCLESIASTES 5 - 8
TEXT : Ecc 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth. Ecc 7:2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Ecc 7:3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. Ecc 7:4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. Ecc 7:5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.
THEME : WISDOM
OVERVIEW OF ECCLESIASTES CHAPTER 7 - MATTHEW HENRY
"Solomon had given many proofs and instances of the vanity of this world and the things of it; now, in this chapter, I. He recommends to us some good means proper to be used for the redress of these grievances and the arming of ourselves against the mischief we are in danger of from them, that we may make the best of the bad, as 1. Care of our reputation (Ecc_7:1). 2. Seriousness (Ecc_7:2-6). 3. Calmness of spirit (Ecc_7:7-10). 4. Prudence in the management of all our affairs (Ecc_7:11, Ecc_7:12). 5. Submission to the will of God in all events, accommodating ourselves to every condition (Ecc_7:13-15). 6. A conscientious avoiding of all dangerous extremes (Ecc_7:16-18). 7. Mildness and tenderness towards those that have been injurious to us (Ecc_7:19-22). In short, the best way to save ourselves from the vexation which the vanity of the world creates us is to keep our temper and to maintain a strict government of our passions. II. He laments his own iniquity, as that which was more vexatious than any of these vanities, that mystery of iniquity, the having of many wives, by which he was drawn away from God and his duty (Ecc_7:23-29)."[Matthew Henry]
How many people enjoy the blessing of a good name? This subject addresses the subject of your reputation. Everyone has one - that is, a reputation. However, not everyone has a reputation for the same thing. Namely, you have either a good reputation [name] or a poor reputation [name]. No doubt, you have heard the saying - "Your reputation precedes you." In most cases this refers to a good reputation. Therefore, the Bible states a good reputation is as precious ointment. They are similar in the fact they both put off a pleasant odor. On the other hand, a poor or bad reputation puts forth a foul odor. A good name is gained by honesty, charity, purity, kindness, and wisdom. Always strive to have a good name.
"Name ... ointment - The likeness between reputation and odor supplies a common metaphor: the contrast is between reputation, as an honorable attainment which only wise people win, and fragrant odor, as a gratification of the senses which all people enjoy.
"The connection of this verse with the preceding verses is this: the man, who wants to know what is profitable for man and good in this life, is here told to act in such a way as ordinarily secures a good reputation (i. e., to act like a wise man), and to teach himself this hard lesson - to regard the day of death as preferable to the day of birth. Though Solomon seems in some places to feel strongly (Ecc_2:16; Ecc_3:19-20 ff) that natural fear of death which is, in a great measure, mistrust founded on the ignorance which Christ dispelled; yet he states the advantage of death over life in respect of its freedom from toil, oppression, restlessness Ecc_2:17; Ecc_4:2; Ecc_6:5, and in respect of its implying an immediate and a nearer approach to God Ecc_3:21; Ecc_12:7. While Solomon preferred the day of death, he might still (with Luther here) have regarded birth as a good thing, and as having its place in the creation of God." [Albert Barnes]
The introduction of the thought that it is better to go to the house of mourning [that is, a funeral] than a house of feasting [party with drunkenness, foolish talk and behavior, etc.] does not seem self-evident at first. Yet, on reflection, you can see why the house of mourning is better. When you attend a funeral you are reminded of the quick, fleeting nature of this life. Also, there is much consolation, comforting words, soft speaking, and love. In the house of feasting there is no lack of foolish behavior and sin. Therefore, on examination, you can see the house of mourning has more benefits than the house of feasting.
"It is better to go to the house of mourning,.... For deceased relations or friends, who either lie unburied, or have been lately inferred; for the Jews kept their mourning for their dead several days afterwards, when their friends visited them in order to comfort them, as the Jews did Martha and Mary, Joh_11:31. So the Targum here, "it is better to go to a mourning man to comfort him;'' for at such times and places the conversation was serious and interesting, and turned upon the subjects of mortality and a future state, and preparation for it; from whence useful and instructive lessons are learned; and so it was much better to be there
than to go to the house of feasting: the Targum is, "than to the house of a feast of wine of scorners;'' where there is nothing but noise and clamour, luxury and intemperance, carnal mirth and gaiety, vain and frothy conversation, idle talk and impure songs, and a jest made of true religion and godliness, death and another world; for that is the end of all men; not the house of feasting, but the house of mourning; or mourning itself, as Jarchi; every man must expect to lose his relation and friend, and so come to the house of mourning; and must die himself, and be the occasion of mourning: death itself seems rather intended, which is the end of all men, the way of all flesh; for it is appointed for men to die; and so the Targum, "seeing upon them all is decreed the decree of death;'' and the living will lay it to his heart; by going to the house of mourning, he will be put in mind of death, and will think of it seriously, and consider his latter end, how near it is; and that this must be his case shortly, as is the deceased's he comes to mourn for. So the Targum interprets it of words concerning death, or discourses of mortality he there hears, which he takes notice of and lays to his heart, and lays up in it. Jarchi's note is, "their thought is of the way of death.'' [John Gill]
Depression because of [a particular] sorrow penetrates deep into your heart. It inspires reflection, introspection, and thoughts of how to live more productively. Sorrow of heart or depression is not pleasant to experience. Yet, because of its lowering effect on the mind, your thoughts are forced to seek deliverance from the source of depression. You must also seek God, and in the process you draw closer to Him. Therefore, in the course of seeking freedom from sorrow of mind, you learn life lessons that will stay with you all your days on the earth. This does not happen with amusements and entertainment.
"The joy of life must thus be not riot and tumult, but a joy tempered with seriousness": Better is sorrow than laughter: for with a sad countenance it is well with the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, and the heart of fools in the house of mirth." Grief and sorrow, כַּעַס, whether for ourselves or occasioned by others, is better, viz., morally better, than extravagant merriment; the heart is with רֹעַ פָּ (inf. as רַע, Jer_7:6; cf. פן רָ, Gen_40:7; Neh_2:2), a sorrowful countenance, better than with laughter, which only masks the feeling of disquiet peculiar to man, Pro_14:13. Elsewhere לֵב יִיטַב = "the heart is (maybe) of good cheer," e.g., Rth_3:7; Jdg_19:6; here also joyful experience is meant, but well becoming man as a religious moral being. With a sad countenance it may be far better as regards the heart than with a merry countenance in boisterous company. Luther, in the main correct, after Jerome, who on his part follows Symmachus: "The heart is made better by sorrow." The well-being is here meant as the reflex of a moral: bene se habere.
Sorrow penetrates the heart, draws the thought upwards, purifies, transforms. Therefore is the heart of the wise in the house of sorrow; and, on the other hand, the heart of fools is in the house of joy, i.e., the impulse of their heart goes thither, there they feel themselves at home; a house of joy is one where there are continual feasts, or where there is at the time a revelling in joy. That Ecc_7:4 is divided not by Athnach, but by Zakef, has its reason in this, that of the words following אֵבֶל, none consists of three syllables; cf. on the contrary, Ecc_7:7, חָכָם. From this point forward the internal relation of the contents is broken up, according to which this series of sayings as a concluding section hangs together with that containing the observations going before in Ecc_6:1-12." [Keil & Delitzsch]
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "DEPRESSION HAS A BRIGHT SIDE TO IT!"
Depression has a bright side to it. Namely, to be free from its grip on your mind and body. This may sound strange, but the bright side of depression is what you learn from it as already mentioned, and how when you are delivered from it you are made better. Continual depression serves no purpose if you are never free from it. However, as you look for a way out from underneath the clutches of depression, you find gems of wisdom that stay with you when you are no longer in a depression of mood.
In short, when handled in Christ, depression can make you more pure. That is, if it decreases or eliminates your desire for the things of this world, and increases your longing for Christ's Kingdom. Depression also will force you to seek God often, which in turn will develop a habit of looking constantly to Him. This habit, of looking at God continually, brings a perfect peace. [Isa_26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.]
Knowing Him and experiencing His "perfect peace" is the bright side of depression. However, if sorrow of mind does not help you to seek God and discipline your mind to trust Him and think of Him continually, depression has no value at all.
"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." [Matthew Henry]
Thus, to hear the rebuke of the wise - always unpleasant at first, will increase your capacity to experience God. It is a great benefit to your inner man, and will lift you up, encourage you, bring you wisdom. However, the rebuke of the wise is designed for those who want to be wise. In other words, the rebuke coming from a wise man or woman is only fruitful when it is planted in the soil of another wise person, or a person aspiring to be wise. Just like all subjects in which people hold a common interest - whatever that shared passion may be, those who instruct another how to perform better - are loved. Yet, for anyone who has no interest in the subject at hand, a rebuke is not received well. This is why so many in the Church do not receive correction well. They have no [true] interest in walking in the spirit. They prefer the works of the flesh [though soundly condemned by God] even as they attend Church services, offer prayers, and read the Bible. It is all a pretense of piety. When the rebuke comes, the carnal Christian or non-believer balks at the rebuke of the wise. Therefore, the rebuke of the wise is reserved for the wise, not for fools.
"(Psa_141:4, Psa_141:5). Godly reproof offends the flesh, but benefits the spirit. Fools' songs in the house of mirth please the flesh, but injure the soul." [Jameson, Fausset, & Brown]
"It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise,.... To listen to it diligently, receive it cordially, and act according to it; though it may be disagreeable to the flesh, and give present pain, yet the effect and issue will be good, and show that man to be wise that hears it, as well as he that gives it; see Psa_141:1; than for a man to hear the song of fools; the vain and impure songs that foolish men sing in the house of mirth; or the flatteries of foolish men, which tickle and please the mind, as music and songs do: or, "than a man that hears the song of fools" (i), and is pleased with it. " [John Gill]