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.

Ecclesiastes 7:1-29

 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.”


  1. Which words are emphasized throughout this passage?
  2. Why is wisdom both represented as meaningful and meaningless in Ecclesiastes?
  3. How did people escape reality in the days of Ecclesiastes?
  4. How do people escape reality today?
  5. How do wisdom and entertainment coexist in the life of the believer?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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16 Responses to Escapism

  1. Sokloon Dy (Lizzy) says:

    1. wisdom and righteousness
    2. wisdom makes one wise for life, but it can also make a person prideful.
    3. they sought after wealth and material gain.
    4. people today escape reality by pursuing entertainment and the latest fads.
    5. entertainment in of itself is not bad, but wisdom tells you how much and what kind of entertainment to participate in. therefore, they must coexist in the life of a believer.

  2. Kendalle says:

    People escape the real mATERIAL world through tech. Also, through relationship, that are usally unhealthy. I used drugs and sex to escape the.real issues of life.

  3. [ED2203-01] HyeJin Lee says:

    1.Which words are emphasized throughout this passage?
    – Wisdom, Righteousness

    2.Why is wisdom both represented as meaningful and meaningless in Ecclesiastes?
    – It could be meaningful because it preserves the life of its possessor. On the other hand, it is also meaningless because nobody can discover it fully because it is too far off.

    3.How did people escape reality in the days of Ecclesiastes?
    – They pursued material things which are meaningless.

    4.How do people escape reality today?
    – People seek after worldly entertainments and pleasure.

    5.How do wisdom and entertainment coexist in the life of the believer?
    – Christian usually determine their boundary of entertainment based on the wisdom that God has given us.

  4. Melisa Guiles says:

    1. Emphasized words – widom, folly, righteous, unrighteous
    2. The writer says that wisdom ‘preserves those who have it’. It keeps them from doing things that a foold would. However, it is also meaningless because it is unattainable. The writer talks about trying to gain wisdom and being unable to comprehend it.
    3. They search for things other than God to satisfy them such as widom, wealth, or possessions.
    4. People try to escape reality today through movies, music, video games, and realtionships.
    5. Wisdom should help the Christian determine which forms of entertainment are God-honoring and which are not. As they become wise to the things of God, they will be able to discern what is the best in entertainment

  5. Kristin Goffinet says:

    1) wisdom, good, fool
    2) Wisdom is beneficial for us while we are on earth because it is helps protect us, like a shelter (vs. 12) from making bad choices, but ultimately, God is the only thing that can ever bring meaning to our lives.
    3) They probably excaped reality through drinking and having expensive parties/ feasts.
    4) They are so many ways to excape reality in today’s world. Some examples are drinking, drugs, video games, novels, movies, and tv shows.
    5) I think we need to use wisdom when allowing ourselves to be entertained, especially by movies because we have to realize that they are not realistic and situations that may turn out great in movies don’t usually turn out as perfectly in real life.

  6. rebecca Langer says:

    1.Words emphasized are, “fool”, “wise”, “good”, and “meaningless”.
    2.I think that wisdom that is sought with godly intentions and through the Bible is good, but when it is mentioned about worldly wisdom that is sought through man’s own thoughts and interpretations, then it has a bad connotation.
    3.In the Bible times, people escaped reality by going in to prostitutes.
    4.Today, people will turn to television, online games, alternate reality games, masturbation, the list goes on and on. I think we have a very escapist culture.
    5.I think that as believers, we should seek Biblical wisdom, and understand the world around us for the purpose of glorifying God and not ourselves. As far as entertainment goes, I think that it should be used as a way to hang out with others and enjoy free time, but not as an escape to the world around us.

  7. aaron wright says:

    1. wisdom, fool, wise
    2. because it can be used to puff up or it can be used to save someone from evil.
    3. They pursued material wealth
    4. They watch TV that puts them in a world where families can be disrespectful towards each other and sin in many ways without reaping the full consequence that you would in real life.
    5. u should use wisdom to evaluate the entertainment that you are letting into your life. is it profitable or is it meaningless?

  8. Amy Kringle says:

    1. wise, fool, righteous, upright
    2. Wisdom for the sake of just “knowing” is foolish, but when it brings us understanding of God and his creation it is true wisdom.
    3. They would turn toward worldly, material things.
    4. We can turn toward movies, video games, pornography, working to avoid family issues etc.
    5. we should use wisdom to decide what to do with our time, including our entertainment.

  9. Kerri Klingsmith says:

    1. Which words are emphasized throughout this passage?
    Wisdom, fool, seeking and righteousness.
    2. Why is wisdom both represented as meaningful and meaningless in Ecclesiastes?
    Wisdom is meaningless because it cannot be what the substance of your life is based on. It is meaningful because it allows one to understand the stupidity of the wicked.
    3. How did people escape reality in the days of Ecclesiastes?
    They searched for things other than God to fill their lives like money or honor.
    4. How do people escape reality today?
    People escape reality through any number of things like tv, novels, video games, chatting online, facebook or hobby’s.
    5. How do wisdom and entertainment coexist in the life of the believer?
    They need to be in balance. Entertainment can be good if it is used in moderation and as rest. If you are living more in entertainment than real life, there is a problem. God needs to be your ultimate reality.

  10. Grace Yoo says:

    1. Some of the words that are emphasized in this passage are better, fools, and wisdom

    2. Wisdom can be meaningful when it is given by God and when it is used for the glory of God. But wisdom can also be meaningless when you do not use your wisdom wisely.

    3. People escaped reality by turning away from God and relying on worldly things.

    4. Today, people do the same thing by relying on worldly things. Of course they are different from a long time ago, but they are still turning away from the Lord.

    5. I believe that with wisdom, we can use our time wisely, which can be used for entertainment as well.

  11. Jessica Gentry says:

    Well I should start off by saying I posted my answers well before 12pm, but then when I just checked back on this cite they were not posted, so my internet must not have submited my comments, so sorry.

    1.) Righteousness and wisdom are the main words emphasized in this passage.
    2.) While wisdom is meaningful in this lifetime, for the gain of power and understanding, it is also meaningless in the sense that both the wise and the foolish will both die in the end, for wisdom alone cannot save a person.
    3.) People in those days escaped reality by using their wealth to provide themselves with whatever sort of entertainment or luxuries they might afford. These may have included things like festivals and feasts and such.
    4.) Today people escape reality by watching movies, TV, playing video games, partying, drinking, and beyond.
    5.) Wisdom and entertainment can mix as one makes wise decisions about the entertainment choices that they partake in, and they don’t seek entertainment as a way to escape this reality, but rather to better enjoy it, while still glorifying the Lord. This can means being a good steward of your time your money and your activities, and enjoying the gifts and goodness of life as well.

  12. Moon [ED 2203;Mon 6:00pm class] says:

    1.Which words are emphasized throughout this passage?
    wisdom and righteousness
    2.Why is wisdom both represented as meaningful and meaningless in Ecclesiastes?
    wisdom from God is meaningful, wisdom from own self is meaningless
    3.How did people escape reality in the days of Ecclesiastes?
    people escaped reality by pursuing meaningless things such as riches, human wisdom, or temporal value in the world.
    4.How do people escape reality today?
    its not any big different with the days of Ecclesiastes.. still people are trying to fine the value of their lives among the meaningless things
    5.How do wisdom and entertainment coexist in the life of the believer?
    we can find a balance of entertainment in our lives with wisdom from God

  13. Cassie Clark says:

    1. Righteousness and wickedness
    2. Wisdom is profitable but a wise person still results in death.
    3. Money and sex.
    4. In the exact same ways as in the days of the Ecclesiastes.
    5. I fear that when we spend too much time in another reality, one that is false, we ignore the pain and joy that God has given us.

  14. Sandra Tindle says:

    1. Wisdom, understanding, and righteousness are emphasized throughout this passage.
    2. Wisdom is meaningful when you listen to it and depend on it, but it is meaningless when it is all you seek after your whole life.
    3. In the days of Ecclesiastes, people escaped reality by feasting.
    4. People escape reality today by watching movies, going to sports.
    5. Wisdom and entertainment coexist in the life of a believer in a balanced way. Entertainment is not a bad thing, as long as you use your time wisely.

  15. Kristen Patush says:

    1.Which words are emphasized throughout this passage?

    Wisdom/wise and fool

    2.Why is wisdom both represented as meaningful and meaningless in Ecclesiastes?

    Wisdom based in Scripture is meaningful, while wisdome based in this world is meaningless.

    3.How did people escape reality in the days of Ecclesiastes?

    Much like today, people sought out pleasures that would make them happy= Selifh endevours that were rooted in sin. Sex, drunkenness, parties, possessions, ect.

    4.How do people escape reality today?

    Entertainment (pop culture, music, Hollywood, movies), relationships, money, ect.

    5.How do wisdom and entertainment coexist in the life of the believer?

    Godly entertainment can coexist with godly wisdom peacefully, while sinful entertainment, or meaningless entertainment, can not coexist with wisdom in a beliver (or anyone, for that matter). The wisdom of God and the entertainment of this world are opposites, and can not coexist with out one of them dominating.

  16. 1. wisdom/foolish
    2. wisdom from God is meaningful, but meaningless in all other contexts.
    3. they did what we do today– they sinned.
    4. running away from their responsibilities and sinning. or, just neglecting reality all together.
    5. we use God’s wisdom in all that we do, or at least we should strive to do so. and we are able to entertain ourselves without sinning.

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