Wisdom for Living

An exposition of Ecclesiastes 7:1-29. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on September 12, 2010.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this but life stinks.  Life is hard.  It’s frustrating and irritating.  Life is confusing and unsettling and just when you think you have a few answers “they” change the questions!  The preacher’s not going to get any argument from me, in fact he’s going to get a hearty, “Amen!” for his insights.  Life under the sun is a vain, meaningless, monotonous existence.  Oh it has its moments.  There are those times, however fleeting, of joy and excitement it’s just that they do not last and when the good time is over I’m worse off then when the party began.  Life, apart from God, is an ugly business.  If you begin with the understanding that there is no God, there is no reality beyond this life, that life is whatever you can make of it here and now – then there is no meaning ultimately.  King Solomon looked back over a lifetime and said, “Vanity of Vanity!  All is vanity!”  Pointless.  Hopeless.  It all amounts to “striving after the wind.”  Even if you catch it – what do you have to show for it?  Nothing.  Now, before you conclude that Solomon was some burned-out, depressed, failed monarch with a gun to his head – you need to know this was not the end of the matter for the preacher.  The book of Ecclesiastes is not a suicide note.  It is a book about real, lasting, profound joy and where you can find it.

Joy is God’s gift to His people.  Joy is the fruit of trusting wholly in God’s character and work.  It is resting in his providence to the extent that you find joy even in life’s darkest, most difficult hour because you know God is in control of all things.  I’m not talking about a sentimental, surface level happiness with a pasted on smile but a deep, rich, abiding joy anchored in the presence of a good and sovereign God.   In chapter 6 Solomon makes it clear that prosperity is not necessarily a blessing and in chapter 7 he is going to show that adversity is not necessarily a curse.  Our text this morning is the 7th chapter of Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes 7:1-29

The preacher says some things in this chapter that seem extraordinary.  There are a couple of places you may have to reread to make sure he said what you thought he said.  The first 13 verses read like a lost chapter of Proverbs.  At first glance they may seem like Bizarro Proverbs, “Surely he can’t mean that.”  He does mean it and it is very helpful for godly living.

As we explore this chapter we discover that…

The godly embrace wisdom and find perspective, clarity and strength to face life’s great challenges.

I want to point out three things from our text.

  1. Wisdom brings perspective.  (7:1-10)
    Sorrow is better than laughter – (1-4)
    Rebuke is better than praise – (5-6)
    The long haul is better than the short cut – (7-9)
    Today is better than yesterday – (10)
  2. Wisdom brings clarity.  (7:11-18)
    In 7:11-12 the preacher informs us that wisdom is better than a generous inheritance.
    7:13-15 remind us we are to see God’s hand in all things.
    7:16-18 – – we are to fear God.
  3. Wisdom gives strength to face life’s harsh realities.  (7:19-29)
    The universal ruin of sin – (20, 26-29)
    To see my own wickedness – 7:21-22
    To admit my inability to grasp the meaning of all that God is doing in the world – 7:23-25
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