Ecclesiastes 7:13-29


The Problem of Righteousness

Consider the work of God; who can make straight what he has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; God has made the one as well as the other, so that mortals may not find out anything that will come after them.
Ecclesiastes 7:13-14
Outline Points:
A disillusioned view of prosperity and adversity.
Talking Points:
  • How have you viewed adversity in your life? How have you viewed the last month or so?
  • Does the text surprise you at all? Would you expect to read "who can make crooked what God has made straight"? Why would Qohelet say God has made something crooked?
In my vain life I have seen everything; there are righteous people who perish in their righteousness, and there are wicked people who prolong their life in their evildoing. Do not be too righteous, and do not act too wise; why should you destroy yourself? Do not be too wicked, and do not be a fool; why should you die before your time? It is good that you should take hold of the one, without letting go of the other; for the one who fears God shall succeed with both. Wisdom gives strength to the wise more than ten rulers that are in a city. Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning. Do not give heed to everything that people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you; your heart knows that many times you have yourself cursed others.
Ecclesiastes 7:15-22
Outline Points:
A view of righteousness and wickedness from the vain / hevel perspective.
Talking Points:
  • How cynical are you about the circumstances that have confronted you?
  • That "hevel" word shows up again: "In my hevel life, I have seen..." Where's the wind we cannot catch in this issue Qohelet presents? What is the ultimate thing we cannot grasp in this?
  • What in this passage surprises you?
All this I have tested by wisdom; I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. That which is, is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out? I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things, and to know that wickedness is folly and that foolishness is madness. I found more bitter than death the woman who is a trap, whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are fetters; one who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her. See, this is what I found, says the Teacher,[a] adding one thing to another to find the sum, which my mind has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. See, this alone I found, that God made human beings straightforward, but they have devised many schemes.
Ecclesiastes 7:23-29
Outline Points:
What is the answer when we’re disillusioned about a righteous life? (vv. 23-29)
Talking Points:
  • Do your observations about life bring you closer to the truth of God? What do your conclusions about life draw you toward?
Bottom Line:  Don’t measure the effects of righteous living by life under the sun.

A Clear Call:  Stop trying to rationalize the day of adversity, and trust Jesus for your righteousness!

  • What is your “problem of righteousness?”  Where have you sought to make righteous living a utility?
  • Where have you embraced sin because you fail to see the usefulness of righteousness?
Talking Points: 
  • What is the Holy Spirit doing within you all as you discuss this passage? What is God inviting you to do now?
  • What do you know you need to do about these truths? How can you pray for Father to empower you through the Spirit of Christ within you?
  • What would look different if you applied this passage to your home, work, and relationships?
  • If you really believed the truths discussed here, what would be different?
  • What steps do you need to take on the two application questions?
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