Ignorance is bliss?
Thomas Gray “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.” “Alas, regardless of their doom, the little victims play! No sense they have of ills to come, nor care beyond today. Yet ah! why should they know their fate? Since sorrow never comes too late, and happiness too swiftly flies. Thought would destroy their paradise. No ore; where ignorance is bliss, ‘ Tis folly to be wise.” His conclusion was logical: for young people, college people it was better to be ignorant and happy, for soon enough there would be plenty of time to experience the sorrows that knowledge may bring. So may we not be ignorant, may we be people with the wisdom of God that is given to us through His Word and have the enjoyment made available through God too! Now as we draw to the next sections, 6 chapters, Koheleth, the preacher, Solomon, through a mixture of proverbs and narrative gives us some instructions for better living. While there is the conclusion of “vanity of vanities” he also gave another conclusion about ignorance Ecclesiastes 1:18 NASB9518 Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.But in these chapters we are starting to look at he gives another look, another observation, and some positive application. He concluded that though wisdom cannot explain everything and all of life’s mysteries, it can makes some positive contributions to our lives Wisdom can make life better (Ecc7:1-10)Wisdom helps us to be able to see life clearly (Ecc7:11-18)Wisdom helps prepare us to face life stronger (Ecc7:19-29)
Wisdom can make life better (Ecc7:1-10)
Ecclesiastes 7:1–2 NASB951 A good name is better than a good ointment, And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. 2 It is better to go to a house of mourning Than to go to a house of feasting, Because that is the end of every man, And the living takes it to heart.Ecclesiastes 7:3–4 NASB953 Sorrow is better than laughter, For when a face is sad a heart may be happy. 4 The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.Ecclesiastes 7:5–6 NASB955 It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man Than for one to listen to the song of fools. 6 For as the crackling of thorn bushes under a pot, So is the laughter of the fool; And this too is futility.Ecclesiastes 7:7–8 NASB957 For oppression makes a wise man mad, And a bribe corrupts the heart. 8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning; Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.Ecclesiastes 7:9–10 NASB959 Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, For anger resides in the bosom of fools. 10 Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.What do you see, what do you notice, what sticks out to you? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________Better things: Sorrow is better than laughter (Ecc7:1-4) If we are honest we must admit we would rather go to party, a celebration then to a funeral. But in the words of wisdom from Koheleth here he says the contrary.Sorrow can do more good for the heart than laughter can, it can have longer effect on you than laughter. While it is true that “laughter is good medicine” it can heal a broken heart; sorrow is the nourishing food that strengthens the inner man. It takes both sorrow and laughter to have a balanced life.Better is date of death than birth (v.1)Better is date of death than date of birth, why? First look at (v.1) again.Ecclesiastes 7:1 NASB951 A good name is better than a good ointment, And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.Look how it starts, what does it say? A good name is better than good ointment. a name can be lasting an ointment is only temporary. Death is eternal and life here is but a vapor (Jm4:14) A good name, good character, good reputation can carry on long beyond this life and the grave, but laughter is but for a moment. Solomon is not a bummer, remember he wrote Proverbs, wrote Song of Songs so he is not morose. He is contrasting two undeniable facts, birth and death, and the life experience between the two. How we live our life between the dashes is going to determine if we leave a fragrant aroma or a foul stench. Speaking of a good name, look at what more scripture says about it.Proverbs 10:7 NASB957 The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot.and add to thatProverbs 22:1 NASB951 A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold.Then look at the New Testament illustration of a good name from Mk14:1-11, but will give just a couple of verses from itMark 14:9–10 NASB959 “Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.” 10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them.You have Mary who will always be remembered for a good name; and then there is Judas (whose name means praise) who is forever remembered for evil not good. Better is house of mourning then house of feasting (v.2) Koheleth is saying in (vv.2-4) to look death in the face; you cannot stay away from morning, we need to have the balance in our lives Sorrow is better than laughter (v.3) Then mentions the mind of the wise and the fool (v.4) While humor, laughter is good, it is healthy we need to beware of frivolous laughter for that can lead to the mind of fools and the house of pleasure or mirth as it says in other versions. Better things: Sorrow is better than laughter (Ecc7:1-4) Better things: rebuke is better than praise (Ecc7:5-6) Throw a thorn bush into a fire and it is gone instantly; burns up and avails nothing but flash. The praise of man, praise of the fool has no lasting effectA wise rebuke will accomplish far more than the flattery of fools. Check out some of these truths Psalm 141:5 NASB955 Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; It is oil upon the head; Do not let my head refuse it, For still my prayer is against their wicked deeds.Proverbs 27:6 NASB956 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.and one oreProverbs 12:1 NASB951 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.Don’t be a fool, don’t be stupid, for it is better to have correction, a rebuke than the flattery words of a fool. Better things: Sorrow is better than laughter (Ecc7:1-4) Better things: rebuke is better than praise (Ecc7:5-6) Better things: Long haul better than short cut (Ecc7:7-9)Have you ever plugged-in a location into your GPS maybe into Google maps or ON-Star etc and you pick my direct path and you end up on dirt roads etc? The easy way, most direct way may not be the best way and that is what Koheleth is giving us in these verses. He mentions bribery, or some may say “greasing the wheels of justice” is the way to get things done, but in reality it just further encourages corruption of an already corruptible human heart. The truth of the matter is found in (v.8) Ecclesiastes 7:8 NASB958 The end of a matter is better than its beginning; Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.It is better for us to wait for the Lord and the Lords timing for we know.Romans 8:28 NASB9528 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.For we can also know, when we are tempted on our own, by our own devices it can bring sinful death.