The wise man listed a series of “better thans” as he continued his observations about life and death. A good name is “better than” precious ointment or riches. One should be careful to guard his good name as it can be destroyed by a single careless moment. Mourning and sorrow are “better than” feasting and laughter. A person with a frivolous nature can overlook the serious and important side of improving his life and the world around him. Anger is an emotion that everyone expresses at times, but it should be kept under control and not allowed to explode at the least provocation. Solomon related a series of statements of wisdom relating to the folly of living for the present instead of building toward the end of life.
We live in a society of laws. Solomon stated that a wise person keeps the king’s commandments. In today’s Christian age, we are commanded to obey the laws of the land—unless they conflict with God’s laws. Man has a tendency to reason that when the righteous have hardships and the wicked prosper, that there is neither reward for righteousness nor punishment for wickedness. However, that is vain thinking. There will be justice in the end.
Solomon pointed out that the righteous and the wicked all have a common end. They all die. After death, there is nothing left for man in this world. As long as one lives, there is still hope that he may be able to accomplish something with his life. We must recognize the opportunities to serve God and our fellowman and do so with zest and enjoyment.