A different angle, part two

We’re digging into the book of Ecclesiastes this week as we take a look at some of the slightly different style of wisdom contained in the book. Today I want to really zoom in on what is an incredibly challenging, but incredibly deep set of verses. First I’m going to give it to you out of the ESV Bible, which is the Bible I usually use for this blog.

Ecclesiastes 7:1-4 A good name is better than precious ointment,
and the day of death than the day of birth.
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

I’m just going to be honest with you. That doesn’t make exact perfect sense to me. I like it, I see there’s wisdom in it, but it just flies a tiny bit above my head. But look at it again in the Amplified Bible translation.

Ecclesiastes 7:1-4 (AMP) A good name is better than precious perfume,
And the day of one’s death better than the day of one’s birth.
2  It is better to go to the house of mourning
Than to go to the house of feasting,
For that [day of death] is the end of every man,
And the living will take it to heart and solemnly ponder its meaning.
3  Sorrow is better than laughter,
For when a face is sad (deep in thought) the heart may be happy [because it is growing in wisdom].
4  The heart of the wise [learns when it] is in the house of mourning,
But the heart of fools is [senseless] in the house of pleasure.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Amplified Bible, what you probably first notice are the explanations in brackets. I find this to be helpful sometimes, and like you see here, it brings to life what otherwise was a pretty dense section of scripture.

The part that really blew my mind is the first few verses. Because basically what we’re reading here is that the day you die is better than the day you’re born. And his point isn’t because that when we die we get to go live a joyful afterlife forever and ever. Look at his reasoning for this. It’s better to die than it is to be alive, because when you die people who yet live will think deeply about their own deaths. It’s almost this weird beyond the grave way to try to draw them closer to God.

As I studied this it got me thinking about my own funeral, which isn’t always the funnest subject matter to dwell on. But there are people in my life who aren’t walking with the Lord right now, and so I got to thinking about what this verse is saying. What if, as this person is at my funeral, they start to really ponder the meaning of their own life, and the possibility of their own death? What if it’s the thing that draws them into a relationship with Jesus? Then certainly, it would be considered a good thing that I died, because I know where I’ll be when I die. By the time you guys are at my funeral, I’m going to be playing in the worship band in heaven, chilling with Hezekiah and Peter. I’m gonna be just fine. I’m gonna be up there hugging my grandma, who passed away when I was just a little boy. She was my favorite person on the planet, and I remember sitting under the table and crying after she died, telling my mom that I wanted to die and go to heaven with her. So yeah, I don’t want to die, but if I do, I’m gonna be all set. So if my death could be the key to bringing someone into a soul saving relationship with Jesus? I guess bring it on! It’s kind of an incredibly morbid line of wisdom, but that’s why I found the book of Ecclesiastes to be so fascinating.

PRAYER AND CLOSING

Father God, thank you for challenging us sometimes with your word.  Better is the day of death than the day of birth, what a heavy and complex line of thinking that is.  Today Lord, I just ask that you help us see our lives as a constant service to others, bring us to a place where we would gladly die if it would help others come to know you as we have.  That’s heavy stuff, God, so I just ask that you work with us on it, help give us peace over the idea that our lives are not our own, and ultimately they are to be used in service to you and spreading the good news of you to everyone we possibly can.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Well, I love you guys.  After a highly wonderful Monday I’m in the midst of a somewhat challenging Tuesday, but nonetheless I’m keeping my eyes on Jesus.  I hope you all are doing wonderful and that you’re enjoying this look into Ecclesiastes as much as I am!

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