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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Ecclesiastes 7

 

 

Verses 1-29

Ecclesiastes 7:1. A good name is better than precious ointment. Shem, a name; shemen, ointment. The reference is to the embalming of bodies with ointment. See Genesis 48. Wisdom and virtue outlive the apothecary’s arts.

Ecclesiastes 7:2. It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting. Both families and nations have, by affliction, come to their right mind, like the Prodigal.

Ecclesiastes 7:8. Better is the end of a thing, or of a beclouded providence, than the beginning. So it proved in Job’s affliction, and in a thousand cases in which afflictions work for the good of man.

Ecclesiastes 7:12. Wisdom giveth life to them that have it. Yea, long life, as everywhere promised to the faithful. Proverbs 3:16. This is the crown of temperance, and of a contented mind.

Ecclesiastes 7:15. There is a just man that perisheth, as king Josiah did, in fighting with Pharaoh.— There is a wicked man that prolongeth his life; a Voltaire, and others, covered with silver hairs. So then providence is beclouded; and in such cases, philosophy is irrelevant; the veil of futurity must be removed before we can judge of the inscrutable paths of providence. God’s ways are in the great deep, and are past finding out. The case of the rich man and Lazarus requires a future state, to manifest the wisdom and the righteousness of God. Now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

Ecclesiastes 7:16. Be not righteous overmuch. The Hebrew word designates alms; as when Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar, Break off thine iniquities by righteousness. So our Saviour, in the old reading of Matthew 6:21, Do not your alms (your righteousness) before men. Others turn it to excess of fasting, and severity of bodily exercises.

Ecclesiastes 7:20. There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not,—and may not sin. Solomon repeats here his own words at the dedication of the temple. 1 Kings 8. Let men therefore take heed, not to do an action that would occasion another to curse their memory.

Ecclesiastes 7:26. I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets. Solomon, with his many queens, had his hands full, and his heart wrung. He found among men, but one of a thousand upright; among women he found none. He was himself a faithless husband; his wives therefore had just cause to reproach him. No doubt he had sometimes, Jezebels and Astarbas, shedding plenty of tears.

REFLECTIONS.

God indeed made man upright, but by following the propensities to pride, luxury and dissipation, he is enslaved by the inventions of vanity. How needful then to renounce the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and to return to God with humility of heart. All happiness dwells with him, and he alone can satisfy the vast capacity of the soul. It is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting. Solomon in old age seemed to delight in humiliating reflections on life; and indeed there is no purer, no more sanctifying wisdom, than frequent reflection on the mortality of man. No doubt when he condescended to attend the funeral of friends and princes, he had meditations which left profitable sentiments in his heart, and helped him to place his hopes in a better world.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 7:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/ecclesiastes-7.html. 1835.

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