Welcome to reality. The world around us is real – the families that we are born into are real. However, the pain of life and the monotony of everyday living causes us to wish to escape. We live in one world, and as Playstation once advertised, we play in another. The world of parties, TV, video games and trash novels takes us away from reality. In many ways the existence in this parallel world is better than life. We get so absorbed that we think our unreality is where we truly are alive and that at work and with the family is where we merely exist. However, Ecclesiastes reminds us that when we pursue entertainment we pursue something that is meaningless.
The Christian should be increasingly aware of reality. God is the underlying reality behind what we see and know. If life itself alienates us we can not create value in the un-life of media and drugs. We need to find our way home to the true reality that will reconcile us with God. God takes us through some difficult places but ultimately we leave behind the vapour of unreality and we find that our lives have the substance of stone.
A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of death better than the day of birth.
2 It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
the living should take this to heart.
3 Frustration is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
5 It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person
than to listen to the song of fools.
6 Like the crackling of thorns under the pot,
so is the laughter of fools.
This too is meaningless.
7 Extortion turns a wise person into a fool,
and a bribe corrupts the heart.
8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.
9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools.
10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
For it is not wise to ask such questions.
11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing
and benefits those who see the sun.
12 Wisdom is a shelter
as money is a shelter,
but the advantage of knowledge is this:
Wisdom preserves those who have it.
13Consider what God has done:
Who can straighten
what he has made crooked?
14 When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
anything about their future.
15In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these:
the righteous perishing in their righteousness,
and the wicked living long in their wickedness.
16 Do not be overrighteous,
neither be overwise—
why destroy yourself?
17 Do not be overwicked,
and do not be a fool—
why die before your time?
18 It is good to grasp the one
and not let go of the other.
Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.[a]
19 Wisdom makes one wise person more powerful
than ten rulers in a city.
20 Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous,
no one who does what is right and never sins.
21 Do not pay attention to every word people say,
or you may hear your servant cursing you—
22 for you know in your heart
that many times you yourself have cursed others.
23All this I tested by wisdom and I said,
“I am determined to be wise”—
but this was beyond me.
24 Whatever exists is far off and most profound—
who can discover it?
25 So I turned my mind to understand,
to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things
and to understand the stupidity of wickedness
and the madness of folly.
26 I find more bitter than death
the woman who is a snare,
whose heart is a trap
and whose hands are chains.
The man who pleases God will escape her,
but the sinner she will ensnare.
27 “Look,” says the Teacher,[b]“this is what I have discovered:
“Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things—
28 while I was still searching
but not finding—
I found one upright man among a thousand,
but not one upright woman among them all.
29 This only have I found:
God created mankind upright,
but they have gone in search of many schemes.”
- Which words are emphasized throughout this passage?
- Why is wisdom both represented as meaningful and meaningless in Ecclesiastes?
- How did people escape reality in the days of Ecclesiastes?
- How do people escape reality today?
- How do wisdom and entertainment coexist in the life of the believer?