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Ecclesiastes 7 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Ecclesiastes 7 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.

"A good name is better than precious ointment."
But what is a good name? Our friends may not be sincere, Prov. 26:28.

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.

Compare Prov. 17:22 and Luke 6:25.

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.

"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.

"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.

"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.

Don't waste time thinking about "the good old days."

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.

"There is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness."
Has there ever been a just person?
Does God destroy both the righteous and the wicked?
On if there is a just man, see verse 20.
On if God destroys the wicked, Job complained, but was he destroyed? See Job 9:22.
On the observation Solomon makes here, indeed evil may temporarily triumph over the righteous and the blood of saints and defenders of the country may flow. In the World War II many good people were killed while Adolph Hitler prolonged his life. But evil did not triumph in the end. So this verse is not that God destroys the righteous. The righteous may perish in the sense of giving his life for his values. But only the wicked are destroyed by God.

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.

"For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not."
Does anyone ever do anything good?
Has there ever been a just person?
Do Christians sin?
Don't pay attention to everything people say.
On if there is anyone who does good, see John 5:29.
On if there has ever been a just person, see Matthew 1:19.
On the question if Christians sin: yes do they do, even after God has given them a new heart. But they sincerely wish to be without sin, see Rom. 7:19. And they desire to sin no more, see Rom. 7:24

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:

Always strive "to know, and to search; and to seek out wisdom, and the reasonableness of things."

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.

"But a woman among all those have I not found."
The Preacher could find a few good men (maybe one in a thousand or so), but not a single good woman.
John Gill observes that Solomon might refer here to the Messiah:

One man, the Messiah, among all the sons of men, have I found, free from original sin; but one woman, among all the daughters of Eve, I have not found clear of it.

But if that is not the meaning, it is not likely that Solomon here speaks of women in general as John Gill continues:

for this is not to be understood of women in general, for Solomon must have known that there have been good women in all ages, and perhaps more than men

So John Gill also comments that if this refers to an ordinary man, the meaning is:

of all the men that have been ensnared and taken by an adulterous woman, but one of a thousand have I observed, and perhaps Solomon has respect to himself, that was ever recovered out of her hands; ... That is, among all the harlots and adulterous women I ever knew or heard of, I never knew nor heard of one that was ever reclaimed from her evil ways, and reformed or became a chaste and virtuous woman

And that seems to be consistent with the context. Because in verse 26 Solomon speaks about harlots and adulterous women and about who escape from them.

29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.