Ecc 7:7-10 is a passage that contains great lessons for rulers. These lessons for rulers are:
Oppression maketh a wise man mad, Ecc7:7.
One of the greatest cases of oppression in the Bible took place in Egypt when the Jews were made slaves, Exodus 3:9. The Pharaoh who ruled Egypt at that time literally went mad. When his servants advised him to let the Jews go, they asked him, “knowest thou not that Egypt is destroyed”, Ex 10:7? Nevertheless, he persisted to resist the Lord and oppress the Jews. And in his madness, he chased them through the Red Sea to his own death and the destruction of his army.
Consider Adolf Hitler. To stir a country into the national zeal like he did took some wisdom; not divine wisdom, of course. Yet, oppressing the Jews like he did made him a mad man in the end. It is not uncommon for rulers of countries to oppress some of the people under their authority. But the end result to the ruler is not good. This is why David warned, “Trust not in oppression,” Ps 62:10.
We can learn a lesson from this. In Prov 3:31 Solomon wrote, “Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways”. Someone who manipulates others to get his way commonly uses anger (they are mad). Don’t use oppression to get your way. It’s bad for you.
A gift destroyeth the heart, Ecc 7:7.
The way the gift destroys your heart is that you have gained from your position of authority and your judgment will now be in favor of the giver of the gift and not in accordance with the law. In the end, even the country over which you rule will suffer from your lack of unbiased judgment.
Solomon wrote, “The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it”, Prov 29:4. This lesson is one of the greatest lessons for rulers to learn.
Deut 16:19 says, “Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous”. Samuel’s sons had trouble with this when they became judges, 1 Sam 8:1-3. Our political system of campaign contributions has destroyed the hearts of many of our representatives.
We can learn a lesson from this. When we are in a position of authority we need to be careful not to be obligated to someone because of a gift. An old friend of mine used to say, after he picked up the check for a meal, “Your obligated now”. The truth was veiled in his humor.
Better is the end of a thing than the beginning, Ecc 7:8.
According to Ecc 2:4-10, Solomon had a lot of practical experience with this. At the completion of all the great works that Solomon did, his heart rejoiced in all his labor. I believe that the completion of the temple construction was among his greatest joys.
Consider the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem in Neh 4:10-12; 6:14-16; 8:9-12. The beginning of rebuilding the wall was really tough, but by the end the Jews could rejoice. Like Solomon wrote in Prov 13:12, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick; but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life”.
We can learn a lesson from this. Always start with the end in mind. Consider that you want to finish with joy, like Paul did, Acts 20:24; 2 Tim 4:6-7. Keeping a better end in mind will help you endure to the finish, Heb 12:1-3, and not faint from weariness.
Solomon’s reign didn’t end well, 1 Ki 11:1-4. The reign of most kings didn’t end well. They didn’t keep a better end in mind when they began.
The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit Ecc 7:8.
The proud in spirit generally take matters into their own hands and try to get things done according to their own will, their own way, and in their own time. They often take credit for things they didn’t even do. Nebuchadnezzar is a perfect example in Dan 4:30. He didn’t succeed by the might of his own power. God gave him the power to do what he did.
The patient in spirit are willing to wait for God to do what he wants to do according to his will and in his own time. Daniel is an excellent example of a man patient in spirit.
Jesus is also patient in spirit. He will wait till Rev 11:15 to take possession of all the kingdoms of the world. The devil, on the other hand, who is the king over the children of pride, Job 41:34 is proud in spirit. In the end, he will be abased and Jesus will be exalted, Phil 2:9-11.
We can learn a lesson from this. It’s easy to be proud and vocal about the incompetence of public officials, for example. Don’t be proud; be patient. The Lord will work all this out in his time.
Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry, Ecc 7:9.
Prov 14:17 says, “He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated”. Prov 12:16 says, “A fool’s wrath is presently known”. So, rule your spirit, Prov 25:28. Don’t let your emotions rule you. As Solomon said in the rest of the verse, “for anger resteth in the bosom of fools”. It’s foolish to let anger sit in the powder keg of your spirit just waiting to explode.
We can learn a lesson from this. In the New Testament, when we are saved, we can put on the new man, Eph 4:26. It’s easier to rule your spirit with the Holy Spirit inside of you. We must. This is one of the greatest lessons for rulers that I had to learn.
Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? Ecc 7:10.
“Thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this”. There are several reasons for this. The former days weren’t better. They look better from our current perspective. But that’s because we have an idealistic view of the past. We weren’t living back then.
We shouldn’t be living in the past, Phil 3:13-14. We need to be “reaching forth unto those things which are before”. That’s where the prize of our high calling is.
People who are looking back at the past are discontent with the present. We cannot forget, when things are worse than before, that there must come a falling away first, 2 Thes 2:3. So, there’s apostasy at the end before Christ returns.
Hezekiah and Josiah both had to cleanse the temple. They could have said that the former days were better, before the temple had been defiled. Yet, Hezekiah lived to see an angel of the Lord destroy 185,000 elite troops in one night and Josiah is credited with hosting the best passover Israel ever observed.
We can learn a lesson from this. Don’t look back and reminisce about better days. Make the best of the days we have today. Jesus is coming soon. We’re closer to his return than ever before. So, learn the wisdom of these lessons for rulers.