The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), June 7
“The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth” (Ecc. 7:4).
Many theologians believe that Solomon wrote the Song of Songs in his early years, the book of Proverbs in his middle years, and Ecclesiastes in his later years. Ecclesiastes builds upon the theme of the wise and the foolish introduced in Proverbs and offers 20/20 hindsight.
A moment of mourning grabs Solomon’s attention and teaches him more than all the pleasure he has experienced throughout his life. Therefore, Solomon exalts the house of mourning over the house of pleasure, “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 take it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better” (7:2-3).
Mourning, death, and hardship rudely interrupt life and demand answers to hard questions about life’s meaning, purpose, and God. Pleasure parties on without a clock or a care.
Sadly, Solomon understands this truth only at the end of his life. He summarizes the wisdom of hindsight at the end of Ecclesiastes: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (12:13-14).
The wise person understands that an abundance of pleasure quickly paralyzes spiritual desire. Therefore, he weighs every opportunity for pleasure in light of that day.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Ecclesiastes 7:1-11:6):
How does God’s wisdom trump man’s?
What do Solomon’s observations of both the rich and the poor reveal about humanity?