Ecclesiastes 7:1–7 (NKJV)
7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment,
And the day of death than the day of one’s birth;
2 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 take it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.
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.
6 For like the crackling of thorns under a pot,
So is the laughter of the fool.
This also is vanity.
7 Surely oppression destroys a wise man’s reason,
And a bribe debases the heart.
Solomon discusses comparisons in this passage that seem counter-intuitive. How can death be better than birth, sorrow better than laughter? But the Preacher here speaks in terms of eternal weight rather than temporal weight. A good name is definitely better, for it wins a reward of eternal weight. Death takes one from this futile life to a life eternal with God. Sorrow teaches one dependence upon God, which leads to eternal joy. It is better to be rebuked by a wise person than to frolic with fools, for the wisdom leads to eternal reward. Vanity is found in constant folly and partying, but fulfillment and joy come from the hard lessons of life and righteousness. Don’t curse the hard times, for they lead to eternal goodness!