7:2 Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies—so the living should take this to heart. I think Solomon is contradicting himself at times. (see 8:15)
7:3 Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. This is true. My most growing times are definitely during times of sadness. There many reasons for this, but the cause of sadness, not the sadness itself, can be a great teacher. If we are sad because someone is mistreating us, we can grow because we realize how it felt when we did that to someone else. If we are sad because we lost someone or something, we can grow because we realize that God is the one constant who will never leave us.
7:4 A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time. One might think I should be pretty wise by now since I think a lot about the other side! But then again, I keep reading down through the following verses and realize I am anything but wise. So he contradicts himself again!
7:5 Better to be criticized by a wise person than to be praised by a fool. This is a hard truth to accept, but it is true. I like how he says it in Proverbs: Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are profuse. It is so hard to remember that when wise people correct us, it is the most loving thing they could do. Ouch!
7:6 Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride. Initially when I read this, I thought, well duh! Everybody loves finishing! But then I realized it wasn't talking about being finished, but seeing something through to the end. The clue word was "patience." So many people love to start something, but after the intial excitement wears off, it's hard to finish!
7:9 Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool. You know, I may never actually become a wise person because I have a quick temper. I hate that about myself. I react to people so quickly on things I'm passionate about or things I'm insecure about. Gosh! I WANT to become a less reactive person, but it seems that no matter how much I try, my quick anger flares up in a moment of weakness. The really bad thing is that words can never be taken back, and it is hard to soothe hurt feelings.
7:10 Don't long for "the good old days." This is not wise. I call this the blight of "nostalgia." It's how the human mind somehow glorifies the past, forgetting the captivity that went along with it. This is exactly what happened to the Israelites. They longed for the leeks and onions of Egypt, and forgot about the merciless slave drivers. This especially happens to us when we leave a romantic relationship that is not good for us, or when we leave an addiction. We look back with longing at what we had, and forget all that we had to endure in our bondage!
7:12 Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life. Hey, I saw this first hand. The night we got approached by two different sets of bandits in India on a pitch-dark country road in the middle of the night, and they insisted they wanted to see what we had in our broken down car; our host was truly wise and maybe even saved our lives. It was so dark they couldn't see our skin color, and there were about 5 of us who towered over them (it was a part of the country where the people were short). Our host quickly told them that we were with the Border Security Forces (a highly trained and feared law enforcement in India) and if they knew what was good for them, they better scat. It was like watching cockroaches when you turn on a light!
7:13 Notice the way God does things; then fall into line. Don't fight the ways of God, for who can straighten out what he has made crooked? Though they add quite a bit to this verse, I love Classic NLT. If things are going terrible, just accept it or you'll be fighting God. He MAKES things crooked on purpose! That is revolutionary! But always use the backdrop of His goodness. It is either to teach or to humble or to reveal something. Nothing is wasted or from ill-intent.
7:14 Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life. I was just talking to a woman yesterday who is nearing retirement. She and her husband have invested their retirement into real estate, but something happened with their mortgage company and the economy, and they may lose it all. Nothing is certain except one thing! Knowing and loving God!
7:20 Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins. Job was our best hope, and he fell short! Good lesson.
7:23-25 I have always tried my best to let wisdom guide my thoughts and actions. I said to myself, "I am determined to be wise." But it didn't work. Wisdom is always distant and difficult to find. I searched everywhere, determined to find wisdom and to understand the reason for things. I feel like this is my quest, but then I look at 7:9 and I realize there is not much hope! Seriously, I always think I should be getting more mature and wise in the ways I handle life, but it never seems that way. I don't think it's something we can determine. Somehow it must be "burned" into us!
7:28-29 Only one out of a thousand men is virtuous, but not one woman! But I did find this: God created people to be virtuous, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path." This verse has always bothered me in the past. But I think I get it now. I think God has allowed this for His plan of the ages. I still get sad when I think that no one would seek Him on our own, but I also believe that somehow, that was part of the plan so that none of us could take credit for His love and mercy. The only way to really get His character is to see how far something can fall short of it!
8:10 I have seen wicked people buried with honor. Yet they were the very ones who frequented the Temple and are now praised in the same city where they committed their crimes! This, too, is meaningless. Hypocrisy! But we see this all the time. No matter how corrupt, people with money or position are often honored regardless of their actions.
8:14 In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless! This is so true! This has always been such a mystery to me! But again, in beginning to understand God's ways, this is the order now. Someday all that is crooked will be made straight again! Check out Luke 3:5-6:
Every ravine will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be brought low; the crooked will become straight, and the rough roads smooth; and all flesh will see the salvation of God.' "
8:15 So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun. I am trying to learn to do this more (sans the drinking part). Sometimes I get so caught up trying to be purposeful, I forget to live a little and enjoy life! Learning that nothing will be lost has really helped me not feel quite as urgent, but still the work stacks up!
8:17 I realized that no one can discover everything God is doing under the sun. Not even the wisest people discover everything, no matter what they claim. This is exciting as we contemplate the days ahead! People keep discovering, and we keep thinking, "We must have discovered just about everything now." And then a new and amazing discovery comes along! The advances in recent years for discovery in science, nature, and technology have been mind-boggling. Can you imagine what's still to be discovered?
9:1 This, too, I carefully explored: Even though the actions of godly and wise people are in God's hands, no one knows whether God will show them favor. I believe God shows favor in different ways. His called out ones will have suffering and hardship in this lifetime, but they have His favor in so many ways-peace, comfort, anointing!
9:5 NASB For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten. I used NASB to make sure we didn't get too much slant here. But this, along with many other OT Scriptures, shows that there is no consciousness after death. Many verses in the OT state that all people, both good and evil, went to Sheol, the place of the grave where there is no consciousness, awaiting their resurrection. Some will go straight into life, some will go into Judgment.
9:11 It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time (NLT). This reads quite differently than NASB: for time and chance overtake them all. I don't see that the more literal translation (NAS) indicates that chance has to do with us being in the right place at the right time by our choice. Rather, it appears to say to me that death (passing of time) and chance overtake them all. What do you think?
7:10-11 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to
48:9-10 O God, we meditate on your unfailing love as we worship in your Temple. As your name deserves, O God, you will be praised to the ends of the earth. Your strong right hand is filled with victory. What a beautiful tribute!