A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth. It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:1-2
It’s easy to understand the first line of these verses. Everyone would agree that a good name is a desirable attribute.
It gets a little more difficult when Solomon says that a funeral is better than the birth of a newborn… and a festive party.
Statements like this make no sense. Well, unless we’re willing to stop our involvement in the rat race of life for a moment and do what he did.
Surely Solomon appreciated the miracle of childbirth, and he would have known full well that happiness could be found when friends threw a party. These were good things, so how did he come to this conclusion?
With much wisdom, Solomon allowed funerals to be an opportunity. Even though he understood every death brings pain, suffering, loss, and hurt, he also found it brought opportunity to remember… to reflect… to realize.
It was an opportunity to remember the one who had passed from this life. It was an opportunity to remember their contributions to the lives of others. It was an opportunity to remember how much they will be missed.
It was an opportunity to reflect on the fact that life is short. Even if we’re given what is considered a long life, it is still a vapor. He too could expect a funeral in his future, and there was no guarantee it would not come today.
Most importantly, it was an opportunity for him to realize that a life without God was utterly meaningless. God gives us funerals to make us think about Him.
In these verses, Solomon is encouraging, “Don’t waste the opportunities that come with funerals. We don’t know all the things that we need to know, so thank God that He gives us funerals to slow down our pace of life and cause us to remember, reflect, and realize that the Creator of this world wants our attention. He wants us to know Him!”
He so greatly wants us to know Him, that He sent His Son to die on a cross and redeem us from our sin.
Because of the painful trials of suffering and death, Solomon came to the most important conclusion that all need to know.
Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. Ecclesiastes 12:13