Ecclesiastes 7 Commentary

Ecclesiastes 7 Commentary

The teacher is bold enough to admit failure in his search for understanding. He has searched deep and wide but his search hasn’t yielded much. The phrase meaningless might therefore refer to the plain fact that the teacher has failed to find meaning in life.

But the teacher is speaking for humanity. Our failure to find meaning in life doesn’t at all mean that life is meaningless.

The very last verse of this chapter gives us an important hint. “This only have I found: God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes.” Verse 29. It is a reference to the perfection of life in the Garden of peace and tranquility before Adam fell. The ‘many schemes’ are the countless lies and ways we think can lead us back to the good times. It is all sin – the great deception.

Money is useless, as per previous teachings; so is fame. A good name is better than fine perfume but this too is meaningless. Human wisdom isn’t any better. Worse still, wicked people may enjoy a long ‘prosperous’ life while righteous people may perish in their righteousness, short-lived with a cruel finale. Indeed, what is the point of life? Nothing straight, a web of confusion. Purposelessness.

A measure of righteousness here and a measure of wickedness there. The teacher is preaching balance. He is exposing the school of thought that elevates everything as equally good. There is good in everything. Even the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting. Nothing is exactly bad. Nothing is exactly good. Go for a balance.

But this path is also meaningless. A chase after the wind. He has candidly admitted, “All this I tested by wisdom and I said, ‘I am determined to be wise’ – but this was beyond me.” Searching without finding.

Like in other chapters, the teacher decides to leave the lecture room and delivers an important statement. “The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare.” Verse 26b. The prophet-cum-teacher is referring to Lady Wickedness. The saint will escape her seduction, vanities, or her many schemes.

Lady Wickedness may also directly refer to man’s vain search for completeness in sexual relations. The distortions in this space have left the saint wide-eyed. Everything in this space is meaningless. A chase after the wind. The saint is instructed to escape.

A human being is logical by design. Ecclesiastes is written to appeal to human logic. Let’s run together and see what comes out. The book is brutally honest about human fears and subsequent confusion. Behind it all is a call to find the Way, the Truth, and the Life – the LORD Jesus Christ.

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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