Ecclesiastes 7:19-29 “More Bitter Than Death [Is] The Woman, Whose Heart Is Snares and Nets”

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Ecc 7:19 Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.
Ecc 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
Ecc 7:21 Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:
Ecc 7:22 For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.
Ecc 7:23 All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me.
Ecc 7:24 That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?
Ecc 7:25 I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:
Ecc 7:26 And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.
Ecc 7:27 Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account:
Ecc 7:28 Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.
Ecc 7:29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

Introduction

The most oft repeated words, and the words most associated with this book, are the words “vanity of vanities, all is vanity and a vexation of spirit”. Yet right here near the middle of Ecclesiastes, God gives King Solomon a ray of hope for the future. It is the uncertainty of the future which seems to be the source of King Solomon’s anxiety and his fears. Like his father, King David, King Solomon at first saw that this life was not the end of God’s work with mankind, King Solomon has lost any faith in that promise, and like Esau, any promise of future blessings has been despised and replaced with a desire for present blessings.
Here is what we are told of Esau’s way of thinking:

Gen 25:29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:
Gen 25:30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.
Gen 25:31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.
Gen 25:32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
Gen 25:33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
Gen 25:34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

When we read that story and all we can see is how unethical it was of Jacob to take advantage of Esau at a weak moment and we wonder how Esau could have been so flippant about his own birthright, we are missing the whole point of the story. ‘Edom’ means ‘red’ and red is Bible- speak for flesh and all the desires of the flesh. Esau’s weakness at this moment typifies our own worldly desires which just naturally belittle spiritual values and future spiritual blessings for present carnal blessings and the satisfaction of the desires of our flesh.
While we may not approve of the type given, Jacob’s unethical ways are used to typify our own intense desire to acquire the things of the spirit which are promised to those who believe in those spiritual values and spiritual blessings.
Christ Himself used negative actions to typify the zeal we all must have for coming to know Him and His ways. The parable of the unjust steward is just one such example:

Luk 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
Luk 16:2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
Luk 16:3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
Luk 16:4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
Luk 16:5 So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
Luk 16:6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
Luk 16:7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
Luk 16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
Luk 16:9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
Luk 16:10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
Luk 16:11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
Luk 16:12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?

Christ is not encouraging any of us to take advantage of our employer, as He makes clear in those last three verses. If we are unfaithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to [ our] trust the true riches? And if [ we] have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?” This steward had “wasted [ His employer’s] goods”.
The point being made is the same point as the story of the prodigal son in the previous chapter where the prodigal son also takes his entire inheritance and “wastes his substance”.

Luk 15:13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

The point of both stories is to reveal what we all are by nature, and to reveal the self- righteousness that is in us all as we condemn the prodigal son and the unjust steward, while not even recognizing that what we are being told is that we are the prodigal son, who has wasted his entire inheritance on riotous living, and we are the unjust steward who has wasted our Lord’s goods and must give an accounting of having done so. Christ is commending the resourcefulness of the unjust steward as he seeks to provide for his own needs.

Luk 16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

We are to have that same resourcefulness and diligence and wisdom in looking ahead to our own spiritual future. So we are told:

Ecc 7:19 Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.
Ecc 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

A perfect example of the outward truth of this statement is this story of a wise woman who really did save a city by using wisdom in very trying circumstances:

2Sa 20:6 And David said to Abishai, Now shall Sheba the son of Bichri do us more harm than did Absalom: take thou thy lord’s servants, and pursue after him, lest he get him fenced cities, and escape us.
2Sa 20:7 And there went out after him Joab’s men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.

Here is what Sheba had done immediately following the defeat of Absalom:

2Sa 20:1 And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite [ the same tribe of King Saul]: and he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel.

Should King David, a type of you and me, fellowship with Sheba? Should he be inclusive to demonstrate his love for Sheba, who is the type of our old man? Here is how we are to deal with such a spiritual heretic, Here is how we as a wise bride of Christ ought to deal with an insubordinate spiritual fornicator within the body of Christ:

2Sa 20:15 And they came and besieged him in Abel of Bethmaachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it stood in the trench: and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down.
2Sa 20:16 Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may speak with thee.
2Sa 20:17 And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab? And he answered, I am he. Then she said unto him, Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do hear.
2Sa 20:18 Then she spake, saying, They were wont to speak in old time, saying, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel: and so they ended the matter.
2Sa 20:19 I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?
2Sa 20:20 And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy.
2Sa 20:21 The matter is not so: but a man of mount Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, hath lifted up his hand against the king, even against David: deliver him only, and I will depart from the city. And the woman said unto Joab, Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall.
2Sa 20:22 Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.

‘Sheba’ had fallen away from and opposed King David, the Old Testament type of Christ. He is the symbol of “that man of sin” within us, and any “wise woman” within us will cut off his head and cast it out because that is his inevitable destiny as we are so informed in the New Testament spiritual fulfillment of this typical story:

2Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
2Th 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
2Th 2:6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
2Th 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
2Th 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.

But as we are to be diligent to deal decisively with our old “man of sin” when he blatantly rises up against the Words of his Lord, we are never to be found guilty of imputing motives to a brother or a sister based simply upon hearsay or even a premonition which we cannot yet determine as a spirit of rebellion or a heretical doctrine. We are to be patient, and let the holy spirit make manifest the hearts of our brothers. These words have a present application as well as a past and future application:

Luk 8:17 For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.

So we are given this admonition to be as generous and merciful in dealing with our brother as our Lord is in dealing with us:

Ecc 7:21 Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:
Ecc 7:22 For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

There is not a human on earth who has not spoken words which he wishes he could take back. We have all been rash and impatient, and while our words come from our hearts, we often realize immediately that our heart is not in the right place, and we know we have sinned and need to be more circumspect about the things we say in the audience of others. God has a way of teaching us these things, and He shows great patience in dealing with us.
It is the function of the holy spirit to drag us to Christ, and it is also the function of the holy spirit to “make manifest the hidden things of darkness”:

1Co 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

Now we have a display of a slight degree of humility within even King Solomon, the Old Testament of our rejected, anointed, old man:

Ecc 7:23 All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me.
Ecc 7:24 That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?

As a type of our self- righteous old man, King Solomon has until now been claiming that he had retained his wisdom:

Ecc 1:13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.
Ecc 1:16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.
Ecc 1:17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.
Ecc 1:18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
Ecc 2:3 I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.
Ecc 2:9 So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me.

Now in this seventh chapter King Solomon, the type of our apostatized old man, confesses, “… wisdom… was far from me”. He now confesses that wisdom is actually that for which he is searching:

Ecc 7:25 I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:

He is not there yet, but this is where King Solomon one day will be as it relates to the foolishness of succumbing to accommodating his pagan wives which he had been forbidden to marry and their forbidden gods:

Rev 17:16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
Rev 17:17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
Rev 17:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

It is very revealing that we are told “God has put in their hearts to fulfill His will” to hate and to eat the flesh of this harlot, and to burn her with fire, the very harlot who has been dominating and directing the beast within us all. Why are they made to do this? It is for the purpose of “fulfilling His will… until the words of God should be fulfilled”. In the same way, we are told that God makes wicked men for the day of evil, makes us to err from His ways and hardens our hearts and fulfills the seven plagues of the seven angels. It all comes alike to all, and it is called “one event” which comes to all men alike:

Pro 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
Ecc 9:2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
Isa 63:17 O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.
Rev 15:7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.
Rev 15:8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

“No man [ can] enter into the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels [ is] fulfilled”, is just a rewording of these words concerning the temple of God, written by the apostle Paul:

1Co 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
1Co 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
1Co 3:14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
1Co 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

It is by God’s decree that we all experience all things alike, including the immature act of hating the great harlot to whom we were virtual slaves for so long. That being so, Solomon’s statement is true for all men of all time:

Ecc 7:26 And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.

The most glaring Biblical example of how true are these words is the story of Samson, who years before demonstrated for us just how true are these words of Solomon:

Jdg 16:15 And she [ Delilah] said unto him [ Samson], How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.
Jdg 16:16 And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;
Jdg 16:17 That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
Jdg 16:18 And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.
Jdg 16:19 And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.
Jdg 16:20 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.
Jdg 16:21 But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.

Like the prodigal son and like the church of Laodicea, Samson had been lulled into a deep sleep in the lap of a harlot. So too, has King Solomon, all of which are types of us. “He wist not that the Lord was departed from him”. At this time in our walk we are completely unaware that we no longer know our Lord, and we have become one with a harlot:

1Co 6:15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
1Co 6:16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

Like King Solomon and like Samson, we all get weary while we are being urged by the great harlot, which is the religious world around us, to be loving and go along to get along.

Jdg 16:15 And she [ Delilah] said unto him [ Samson], How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.

We are told plainly that our strength and our spiritual health depends upon our diligent obedience to every word of our Lord:

Exo 15:26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

Then we are also told exactly what is the relationship between our love of our brothers and our obedience to our Lord:

1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

Our love of our brothers is proven by our obedience to God. Our obedience to God is not proven by our disobedience to God through our misconstrued definition of what is love, as Samson, Saul and the church of Laodicea demonstrate.
That being true, Solomon now makes this observation:

Ecc 7:27 Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account:
Ecc 7:28 Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.

“One” is the number for the unity and the one mind that is in Christ and His Father. The number ten is the number for the perfection of our dying flesh, and its multiple “a thousand” is simply the symbol for the first man Adam in his mature state of dying and death. “A woman” is that which came out of Adam and which has been the instrument which our Creator has used to withstand the Christ down through the ages. There is but “one man” who is or ever has been “upright” and through Him and His Christ, God will redeem even the apostatized King Solomon, along with every man who has ever lived:

Eph 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
Eph 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

Here is how Rotherham’s Emphasized Version translates verse ten:

Eph 1:10 For an administration of the fulness of the seasons, to reunite for himself (under one head) the all things in the Christ, the things upon the heavens, and the things upon the earth, in him:

Christ does not separate Himself from “His body… which is the church”. We may struggle to remember who we are “in the Christ”, but He has no such problem when He plainly informs us:

Mat 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Act 22:8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.

We are all guilty of persecuting the Christ of Christ, and thereby persecuting Christ Himself. Therefore we can agree with King Solomon:

Ecc 7:29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

The Hebrew word translated ‘made’ is this verse is:
H6213
<עשׂה
‛aÌ‚sÌaÌ‚h
aw- saw’
A primitive root; to do or make…

In the vast majority of the over 2000 entries for this word it is translated with the words ‘do, done and did’. The words ‘made’ and ‘make’ are acceptable translations, but in this case it would be better to tell us that ‘God made man to do what is upright’. That is much more in line with the sum of His Word which teaches us that God created us in iniquity and in sin, made wicked for the day of evil and made marred in the hand of the Potter.

Psa 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Pro 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made [ H6213 asah] of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

The word translated as ‘made’ here in Jer 18:4 is the same word translated ‘made’ in Ecc 7:29. In this case it is in the aorist tense, and while it is not in the aorist tense in Ecc 7:29 it is clearly better translated as ‘God made man to do what is upright, which is exactly what the New Literal Translation has done:

Ecc 7:29 But I did find this: God created people to be virtuous, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path.(NLT)

In God’s appointed time, man will “be virtuous” and ‘do virtuously’.

1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

In our next study we will be reminded that in the end, the only power there is, is the power that is the Word of God:

Ecc 8:1 Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.
Ecc 8:2 I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God.
Ecc 8:3 Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him.
Ecc 8:4 Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?
Ecc 8:5 Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.
Ecc 8:6 Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.
Ecc 8:7 For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?
Ecc 8:8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

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