Reading the Word
Ecclesiastes 7:1–6 (ESV)
1 A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth.
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5 It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.
6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fools; this also is vanity.
Understanding and Applying the Word
We all want to live lives of comfort, ease, and happiness. Why does Solomon tell us that it is better to mourn than feast? Why does he tell us that sorrow is better than laughter? And why does he say that the heart of the wise is in the house of morning rather than the house of mirth?
The greatest lessons of life are learned in the struggles and difficulties. When things are going well, we hardly stop to consider the deeper matters of life. We do not ask what life is about or what the most important things in life are when we are laughing and having fun and it seems like things will continue on forever as they are. It is when our world is falling apart that we think long and hard about life. It is through sorrow and tears that we search for answers to life’s most important questions. The wise stop to consider these things and make sure they are focused on what is right and good and lasting. The fool, by contrast, seeks only pleasure.
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