Today: [Ecclesiastes 7] The Reality and Value of a Good Name. In chapter 7 of our study of Ecclesiastes Solomon speaks of the value of a good name. Is it important to have the good opinion of others? What is it that constitutes a good name? Jesus taught us to beware when all men speak well of us. Considering that then what is the value of having a good reputation or having favor with those around us? In this chapter, we examine that true basis of comparison to determine just what a good name means and how we might obtain it.
[Ecc 7:1-29 KJV] 1 A good name [is] better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. 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. 3 Sorrow [is] better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. 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 to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. 6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so [is] the laughter of the fool: this also [is] vanity. 7 Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart. 8 Better [is] the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: [and] the patient in spirit [is] better than the proud in spirit. 9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools. 10 Say not thou, What is [the cause] that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.
In verse 1 of our chapter Solomon speaks of the value of a good name and makes a comparison of the day of our death with the day of our birth. In the context of Calvary and the sin condition what can be said of a good name? Regarding the matter of a good name what can be said of this? Are we discussing the moral value of a good reputation? The biblical perspective of having in your life the good opinions of men around you is not always something to be desired. In other words, the scriptures are not always best used as the basis for lecturing about moral quality. Solomon is saying something deeper to us. Many tried to put Jesus in this category as we see in the gospel of Matthew:
[Mat 19:16-17 KJV] 16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God:
For Jesus to make this statement tells us that God’s idea of good is far different than man’s. What constitutes a good person? If there is as Jesus says her “none good but God” what about people like Mother Theresa? What about Billy Graham, or Mahatma Gandhi? Surely Jesus isn’t saying these people are not good? Yet the statement is so unequivocal that Jesus corrects the rich young ruler who calls Him “Good Master”. The reason for this is the comparative nature of the statement. When you ask the average individual today if they are a good person it is common to say “well I’m not worse than anyone else” and then go on to point out that they are not a criminal, or a murderer etc. This would establish the standard of moral excellence based on a comparison with others. The apostle Paul considered this to be very dangerous thinking:
[2Co 10:12 KJV] 12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
What is our comparison then? In Ephesians 4 we find the measure of the stature of Christ to be our comparator by which we are to measure ourselves. Verses 10-14 tell us about the 5-fold ministry gifts and that they are in our lives so that we will grow up into Him and to measure our maturity not by looking around us but by looking at Christ. The good name to be desired then is not the name that others attach to us but rather the name of Christ Himself.
11 Wisdom [is] good with an inheritance: and [by it there is] profit to them that see the sun. 12 For wisdom [is] a defence, [and] money [is] a defence: but the excellency of knowledge [is, that] wisdom giveth life to them that have it. 13 Consider the work of God: for who can make [that] straight, which he hath made crooked? 14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him. 15 All [things] have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just [man] that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked [man] that prolongeth [his life] in his wickedness. 16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? 17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? 18 [It is] good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all. 19 Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty [men] which are in the city. 20 For [there is] not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
Verse 12 speaks of the nature of money, or riches and the supremacy of the wisdom of God. Money is a defence against many things but Solomon says that wisdom is more excellent because unlike money – wisdom gives life to those that find it. It is common to the human condition for us to spend our lives in pursuit of money and this world’s goods. Money keeps hunger away from us, and with money we keep a roof over our head. Many misquote the scripture saying money is the root of all evil but that is not true. Rather 1 Cor. 6:10 tells us that the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. We are not to love money. Why? Because the love of money is the kind of love that only loves for what you are getting out of the relationship. Men love money because of what it does for them. Our love is to be unconditional. Remember that the wisdom of God is not based on intellect or experience. 1 Cor. 1:30,31 tell us that our wisdom is a person and His name is Jesus. Jesus is our wisdom and He came that we might have life and life more abundantly. What He gives us money cannot buy.
21 Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: 22 For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others. 23 All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it [was] far from me. 24 That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out? 25 I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason [of things], and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness [and] madness: 26 And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart [is] snares and nets, [and] her hands [as] bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her. 27 Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, [counting] one by one, to find out the account: 28 Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. 29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.
Verse 21 tells us not to listen to everything said about us. Solomon listened to things being said around him and overhears his own servant cursing him. Rather than punish the servant he decides within himself that he shouldn’t pay attention to all that comes to his ears. One of the great weaknesses of man is the failing of being overly concerned with what others are saying about you. Learn to turn a deaf ear to what you hear. Family often do this. They make a habit of saying things about one another that would offend them deeply if they heard them from the lips of a stranger. It is common for those in our closest relationships to think and even say things that are not flattering about us. It shouldn’t happen, and shouldn’t be said but putting that aside we must learn not to listen. Make it your determination not to be thin skinned. Put your attention more upon what God says about you rather than what men say about you behind your back. Surely they will not be rewarded for their opinions but neither will you better yourself by being preoccupied with the opinions of men.
Verse 26 speaks of the folly of being snared by a manipulative woman. Solomon goes on to speak of finding 1 good man in a 1000, but finding it very difficult to find a good woman. Is Solomon being chauvinistic in this remark? In reality he is just restating Proverbs 31:10 where he said “who can find a virtuous woman, for her price is above rubies…” Why would Solomon make such a remark? Because of the tremendous influence women had even in the ancient society that Solomon lived in. Regardless of the power that men seem to yield in this life, the influence of women and the great sway they hold over generation to generation cannot be overestimated. A woman that doesn’t know her own power will be manipulative and injurious to everyone around her. She will use her wiles and her ways to demand all to bow to her will. This is not a strength but a great weakness manifest in the life a woman who has no idea where her true strengths lie.
In conclusion we look back to verse one where Solomon says the day of death is better than the day of birth. Isn’t this a horrible statement? Not in the light of eternity. Remember that Solomon states 30 times in his book that his perspective and his statement are made in the context of those things that are “under the sun”. If Paul says in this life only we have hope we are of all men most miserable. This is the great message of Ecclesiastes – it is foolish to try to find complete fulfillment and meaning in life limited to the natural perspective. Money will not bring fulfillment. Relationships will fail to bring true happiness. Pursuit of knowledge and man’s wisdom is an empty thing. Only relationship with God and oneness with our original purpose to fellowship with Him will bring us into our true purpose and real joy.
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