This is the third of seven "better thans" in Ecclesiastes 7. The party wins every time when the option to attend a party or funeral is given. Solomon, however, finds more value in attending a funeral than a party.
Attending a funeral reminds man about death and the hereafter; it causes him to contemplate the brevity of life--to see life as a vapor. All of us want to put off death as long as we can. So we avoid talking about it. Reading the book of Ecclesiastes annually forces the reader to "sober up" and contemplate these subjects--otherwise he would avoid thinking about death.
If it weren't for sickness and death man would rarely conclude, as did Solomon, that life is filled with "better thans", such as sorrow over laughter and rebukes over songs. In chapter three, verse 11 Solomon pointed out that "God has set eternity in the hearts of men". Sadly, man can live his entire life without touching the eternal; funerals provide a sobriety test and prompt man to think about the eternal and to make choices about his life that effect the eternal.
Attending a feast isn't wrong but living life as a continual feast dulls the heart to the truly important things of life. Attending a funeral provides a much needed sobriety test for those of us who live in the midst of a generation that just wants to party.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 7:1-10:20
- What are the ingredients of a well-balanced life?
- Why does Solomon warn against taking the cursings of others to heart?
- How does Solomon advise the person who desires to make the most out of life?
- Why is wisdom superior to weapons of war?
- How does wisdom protect the one who has it?
- Why is the use of many words and criticizing others foolish?