In this lesson from Ecc 7:1-6, Solomon compares several things and asks, Which is better?
Which is Better, a good name or precious ointment?
A good name is better than precious ointment.
A good name is longer lasting than the fragrance of the ointment. The fragrance dissipates over time. A good name, like Samuel, or David, or Ruth, or Esther, or Jesus Christ lasts forever.
A good name is more valuable than the ointment, Mk 14:5. No doubt, the ointment can be very costly. But a good name is worth more than the price of precious ointment, Prov 22:1. Mary, who anointed Jesus, is remembered for what she did, more than the ointment with which she did it, Matt 26:13.
You can do more with a good name than you can with precious ointment. A good name, like Jesus, accomplishes things that money can’t buy. Religious people, paying vows and lighting candles for which they must pay, cannot get their prayers through to God Almighty like we can when we pray in the name of Jesus, Jn 14:13-14.
A good name travels further than the fragrance of the ointment. The ointment can provide fragrance to a room or to the person who is anointed with it. A good name is sometimes known around the world. A name like Billy Graham is known far and wide.
Which is Better, the day of one’s death or the day of his birth?
The day of death is better than the day of one’s birth. Practically speaking, in the day of death you’re escaping this world of vanity and vexation; your journey is complete, your race is run.
At your birth, however, you are just entering this vain evil world, Gal 1:4. No telling what is out there in front of children when they are born. Imagine being born in Germany in the 1920’s. If you were German, you were recruited into The Hitler Youth. If you were Jewish, you were transported to a concentration camp. The closer we are to the Lord’s return, the more tribulation and trouble this world will see.
Spiritually speaking, if you have gotten saved, the day of death is the day you rest in Jesus, though Solomon wasn’t considering this when he wrote Ecclesiastes.
The house of mourning or the house of feasting?
Which is better? Solomon said that it’s better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting. In the house of feasting, the full soul loatheth the honeycomb. You get closer to God when you fast.
The house of mourning is the end of all men. There are always loved ones weeping at the end. The living will lay it to heart. This is very true when visiting with family members after the death of a loved one or when preaching the funeral. There are many who get saved at funerals. They lay the preaching to heart. There are some who get right with God. There are some who reconcile with family. A funeral is better than a feast.
Which is Better sorrow or laughter?
Sorrow is better than laughter. The reason is that by sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. 2 Cor 7:10, it’s godly sorrow that “worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of”. Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He didn’t come here to spend his days in mirth.
Contrast the house of mourning with the house of mirth. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning. I have always learned rich, lasting lessons of life in the house of mourning. As one preacher said, “The house of mourning is better for the soul than for the senses”.
The heart of fools is in the house of mirth. They want to be amused and entertained. To muse is to think, to ponder, to consider. To amuse is to not think. There is nothing serious going on in this house. It’s just foolishness and shallow conversation.
The rebuke of the wise or the song of fools?
Which is better? The rebuke of the wise is better. You’re going to hear the rebuke of the wise in church. You’re going to hear the song of fools in the bar. However, in the modern mega church, you’re likely not going to hear the rebuke of the wise, since the rebuke of the wise can initially make you sorrow.
Concerning the rebuke of the wise, “Open rebuke is better than secret love”, Prov 27:5. Prov 25:12 says, “As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear”. Prov 6:23, “Reproofs of instruction are the way of life”. Matthew Henry wrote, “It is better to have our corruptions mortified by the rebuke of the wise, than to have them gratified by the song of fools”.
The song of fools will not edify you. These songs are filled with foolish lyrics. Here’s a good example from Stonewall Jackson.
Just last night my love said she was leaving
I sat right there and cried until the dawn
Then booze was added to the pain and heartbreak
The combination equalled trouble from then on
Blues plus booze means I lose
Not a right combination for anyone to choose
Nobody knows the feeling till he’s been in my shoes
Blues plus booze means I lose
Tonight I’m fast forgetting how she left me
But tomorrow pain will come on twice as strong
I order stronger booze and louder music
Like I’m happy for tonight but not for long
Blues plus booze means I lose… (This is the name of the song).
The laughter of fools is like the crackling of thorns under a pot. There is a similarity between the crackling of thorns and the cackling of laughter. The thorns quickly blaze and quickly go out. They don’t burn long enough to even heat the pot. Likewise the laughter. As one preacher said, “Fools like thorns are only fit for burning, they are otherwise unprofitable”, Ps 58:9, Ps 118:12.
Conclusion: Laugh now, weep later. Weep now, laugh later, Ps 30:5. Jas 4:9. There are some things about which we should be weeping right now. The condition of our country, and souls without Christ. See Ps 126:5-6. We’ll have time to rejoice when some of these fools without Christ get saved.