Do not be overly righteous

Ecclesiastes Bible Background

09.19.2017 – Old Testament: Ecc 7.16–18

To read the Bible in a year, read Ecclesiastes 7–9 on September 19, In the year of our Lord 2017

By Don Ruhl

Do not be overly righteous? Yes, the Bible makes that statement and a couple more that might surprise you,

Do not be overly righteous,
Nor be overly wise:
Why should you destroy yourself?
Do not be overly wicked,
Nor be foolish:
Why should you die before your time?
It is good that you grasp this,
And also not remove your hand from the other;
For he who fears God will escape them all.
(Ecclesiastes 7.16–18) 

Do not be overly wise and do not be overly wicked? You read it above. Solomon had just said in the previous verse that he saw these two things happen: A just man perish in his righteousness and a wicked man prolong his life in his wickedness.

From that Solomon concluded: Do not be overly righteous, nor be overly wise. Otherwise, you may destroy yourself. If you give yourself wholly to righteousness, be prepared to die early. Does righteousness mean that much to you? Does that frighten you? If so, do not go to the extreme.

Do not be overly wicked, nor be foolish. You may have seen one lengthening his life through his wickedness, but know that is the exception. Give yourself wholly to wickedness, and you will die before your time. Do not be wicked or foolish at all, but since we all sin and do foolish things, be sure that you do not give yourself to wickedness and foolishness, otherwise, you may find it impossible to come back.

It is good if you can grasp what Solomon said because he was not endorsing a little bit of wickedness, nor was he endorsing a half-hearted life of righteousness.

It is also good not to remove your hand from the other. Stay in touch with both sides. If you go totally into a life of sin and remove yourself from all righteous people, you will be sorry. If you go totally into a life of righteousness and remove yourself from all wicked people, you will have no influence in the world.

Be righteous, but not for your own sake only. Then Solomon brought up a key truth. The one who fears God will escape them all. Be sure that your top goal in life is to fear God and you will do well.

[The preceding paragraphs are from a book on Ecclesiastes that I hope to publish in 2019, but I have two to finish before that one.]

Questions:

  • Are you ready to suffer for righteousness’ sake?
  • Have you repented of all your sins?

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