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Lesson 8: God Made Man Upright? What Happened? *

Introduction: When is the last time you took a good, hard look at your life? I've just about finished a book about a middle-aged man who essentially looked at his life and tossed out a great deal of it. Funerals tend to make us look at our life. So does a series illness. Solomon invites us this week to look carefully at our life and consider what we see. Let's jump into our lesson!

  1. A Good Name


    1. Read Ecclesiastes 7:1. What is good about perfume and a good name? (They attract people to you.)


      1. How easy is it to put on fine perfume?


      2. How easy is it to acquire a good name?


        1. Why is a good name better than fine perfume? (It is the work of a life-time.)


        2. How many sins (or mistakes) does it take to ruin your name?


    2. Let's skip down to Ecclesiastes 7:20 and read it. If everyone sins, how do you acquire and protect that good name?


    3. Read Ecclesiastes 7:2. What do you and Solomon notice about funerals? (When you are looking at your dead friend or relative, or when you are looking at the hole in the ground, it hits you that this is your destiny.)


      1. What is good about that? What is superior about the house of mourning than the house of feasting? (If you seriously consider your life, you are less likely to make the mistake that will ruin your life and your reputation.)


  2. A Good Life


    1. Read Ecclesiastes 7:8. Would you rather be young or be old?


      1. If, as I expect, you answer "I'd rather be young," then how can Solomon be right in saying the end of a matter is better than its beginning? (At the end of your life, at the end of a story, you know how things worked out.)


      2. My father's death and funeral were a very sad time for me. It was the first time any close relative had died. I remember that amid all of that sadness, one thought gave me relief. I thought that now I could never disappoint my father. That had been a very big goal in my life, and now that the final bell on earth had rung, this challenge in my life was over.


      3. Why is patience better than pride? (Read Proverbs 13:10. Patience helps to get things done. Pride does not.)


    2. Read Ecclesiastes 7:10. I think of the saying that if we forget history, we are destined to repeat our old mistakes. Does this contradict Ecclesiastes 7:10?


      1. There was a time in my life, in the late 60's and early 70's when clearly the "old days" were better. Cars were better in the early 60's than the late 60's and early 70's. Interest rates were up in the late 70's. People who had central heating were going back to heating their homes with wood stoves. I know back then I thought and said things were better in the old days. What is wrong with that? (We need to be careful about making such statements. Time may have erased from our memories some of the difficulties of the past. Plus, how do such statements help us now?)


    3. Read Ecclesiastes 7:11-12. Would you like to inherit a lot of money?


      1. If so, why?


      2. Solomon equates wisdom with inheriting money. Why are they similar?


      3. Why would wisdom help protect your stuff and your life? (When I was a kid, I used to see a postcard that said, "If you're so smart, why ain't you rich?" The assumption is that being smart should help you to become rich. Solomon says that these are equivalent blessings. Just as money can protect you from some of the adversities of life, so can wisdom.)


      4. How are inheriting a lot of money and wisdom dissimilar? (You have little control over what you inherit. On the other hand, you can learn wisdom from the Bible.)


    4. Read Ecclesiastes 7:13-14. Is this trust or resignation?


    5. Read Ecclesiastes 7:15. Is there a connection between righteous living and living well? (Solomon says good and bad times arrive, the best thing to do is enjoy the good times when they come because your righteousness may not guarantee you a good life.)


      1. Would you agree with Solomon? At least, would you agree this side of heaven? (A consistent problem with Ecclesiastes is that Solomon appears to leave heaven out of the picture until he gets to the end of the book.)


      2. Read Romans 8:18. How does Paul see this issue?


    6. Read Ecclesiastes 7:16-18. Barry Goldwater (a prominent American politician) famously said, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." Can you be too righteous? Can you be too wise?


      1. When Solomon says "it is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other" does he mean it is good to grasp righteousness and not let go of wickedness?


        1. If so, how would you reconcile that thought with Matthew 5:48 where Jesus tells us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect? (The commentary, Be Satisfied, interprets these verses in Ecclesiastes as warning us against self-righteousness and pride. Don't think you are too righteous or too wise.)


    1. Read Ecclesiastes 7:21-22. Are you interested in what other people have to say about you?


      1. Have you overheard someone saying something bad about you?


      2. Do you ever say bad things about good people who you like?


        1. If you have, what is Solomon's advice to you? (You should shrug off some negative comment about you because you know you have made negative comments about other good people.)


    2. Read Ecclesiastes 7:26. In what situation could a woman be a snare?


      1. What is the downside to such a relationship? (It hurts you more than death.)


      2. What does it mean that her hands are chains and her heart a trap? (Inappropriate love takes you places you do not want to go. It binds you.)


      3. What is the solution to this? (Escape!)


        1. How can you escape? (The sinner does not escape, but the person who desires to please God can escape.)


  1. Gender Revolt


    1. Read Ecclesiastes 7:27-28 and tell me what the smartest man who ever lived discovered?


      1. Ladies, should we just burn this book? Or, is there a reasonable explanation for Solomon's statements?


      2. Guys, my bet is that there are less than a thousand men in your Bible study class, so I should hear some complaining from you too, right? (This lesson goes to about 26,000 people each week. If they were all men (they obviously are not all men), Solomon would say that about 26 are righteous. Pretty poor odds, if you ask me.)


      3. Is this just what you are likely to hear from a man with a 1,000 wives ( 1 Kings 11:3) who led him astray?


        1. Read what Solomon said about a wife in Proverbs 12:4. Was he just having a bad day when he wrote Ecclesiastes 7:27? (Solomon is telling us that very few people are righteous - regardless of gender.)


    2. Read Ecclesiastes 7:29. What is Solomon trying to teach us about our life? (Realize that you are not perfect. Only God has the ability to make us what we should be.)


    1. Friend, have you examined your life? If you have, no doubt you have seen your character defects. Jesus offers to cover your imperfect character which His perfect character (see Hebrews 7:26-28). Isn't it about time you accepted that offer?


  1. Next Week: Seeing Through a Glass Darkly.


























* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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