Ecclesiastes 7:8–16 (NKJV)
8 The end of a thing is better than its beginning;
The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
9 Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,
For anger rests in the bosom of fools.
10 Do not say,
“Why were the former days better than these?”
For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.
11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance,
And profitable to those who see the sun.
12 For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense,
But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.
13 Consider the work of God;
For who can make straight what He has made crooked?
14 In the day of prosperity be joyful,
But in the day of adversity consider:
Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other,
So that man can find out nothing that will come after him.
15 I have seen everything in my days of vanity:
There is a just man who perishes in his righteousness,
And there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness.
16 Do not be overly righteous,
Nor be overly wise:
Why should you destroy yourself?
Solomon says that the end is better than the beginning. That seems true at times and at others it does not. You may begin a project with a big bang and see great progress, then hit a snag and not finish well. However, the completion of a project, no matter how hard the process may have been, is better because you have the satisfaction of success and finality. Therefore, don’t let the process create undue anger or frustration. Rather, rejoice over the end result.
The Preacher goes on to say that wisdom is just as valuable as a defense as money. It gives life and it is profitable to those who will embrace it. Also, he encourages the reader to consider how God works. Whether the path before you is crooked or straight, God made the path. If you don’t like the path, or if you don’t understand it, trust Him, for He made the path. He can take you through it.
Finally, the writer makes a very fatalistic and pessimistic thought. The righteous perish and the wicked live, so don’t worry too much about being righteous or wise. Don’t kill yourself trying. I think this writing is simply the frustration of a very wise man who had come to a place of futility. He had done it all and still had not found the fulfillment for which he hoped. However, in the very next verses, he also warns against evil and the judgment that comes with it.
Solomon is reverberating the frustration and hopelessness of a generation–his and the current one–a cry that rings through the hills even now. What’s the use? Yet the only path to find that fulfillment and hope is found in God. Solomon will eventually share that in these passages. Be sure to look for it, or else Ecclesiastes will make you want to go to bed and cover your head. This kind of reminds me of the song from a few years back by the band U2, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” The lines of the song talk about all the experiences had by the singer, but yet he still was looking for It, the fulfillment of his being. I submit that the purpose and hope we look for is found in Jesus Christ. Seek Him today and know His joy, His comfort, His peace! Hang in there, because the end is better than the beginning.