Ecclesiastes 7:17–8:1 (NKJV)
17 Do not be overly wicked, Nor be foolish:
Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you grasp this, And also not remove your hand from the other; For he who fears God will escape them all.
19 Wisdom strengthens the wise More than ten rulers of the city.
20 For there is not a just man on earth who does good And does not sin. 21 Also do not take to heart everything people say, Lest you hear your servant cursing you. 22 For many times, also, your own heart has known That even you have cursed others.
23 All this I have proved by wisdom. I said, “I will be wise”; But it was far from me. 24 As for that which is far off and exceedingly deep, Who can find it out? 25 I applied my heart to know, To search and seek out wisdom and the reason of things,
To know the wickedness of folly, Even of foolishness and madness. 26 And I find more bitter than death The woman whose heart is snares and nets, Whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God shall escape from her, But the sinner shall be trapped by her.
27 “Here is what I have found,” says the Preacher, “Adding one thing to the other to find out the reason, 28 Which my soul still seeks but I cannot find: One man among a thousand I have found, But a woman among all these I have not found. 29 Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, But they have sought out many schemes.”
8:1 Who is like a wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man’s wisdom makes his face shine, And the sternness of his face is changed.
Don’t be violent or wicked, Solomon says. Hold your hands together rather than getting in a fight. You will escape trouble that way. Wisdom is stronger than ten rulers for a king. Don’t let what other people say affect you. You have probably said things about someone else that you did not mean or else wish you had not said.
The Preacher sought out wisdom and folly and found folly wicked and bitter, but found that wisdom helps one escape folly’s death. Solomon speaks of the fact that very few people are upright. They seek out many schemes, and connive for their own profit. When a man finds wisdom, his countenance changes and the stern nature of it is converted to the shine of contentment and joy.
Solomon encourages his readers to avoid violence and seek wisdom, for in it alone is one happy and alive. People seek happiness and fulfillment in so many areas and experiences. There is only one way to find them: wisdom!