Proverbs about life and death (7:1-14)
The writer now faces up to the fact that people have to make their way through life in spite of its various misfortunes. Through a collection of proverbs he points out that whatever circumstances they find themselves in, they should use them to the best advantage.
To begin with, people should desire a good reputation. If they live worthwhile lives, the day of their death will be more important than the day of their birth. It will be the climax that confirms their good reputation for ever (7:1). In view of this, they should always bear in mind the certainty of death, and not waste their lives on empty pleasures (2-4).
People who understand life will prefer the sincere rebuke of a wise person to the empty praise of a fool (5-6). They will avoid the temptation to get rich through oppression and bribery, knowing that these ruin a person’s character (7). They will not be impatient or hot-tempered, and will not try to escape present troubles by wishing to be back in the past (8-10). They will recognize that wisdom and money, when used together, can improve the quality of life, but they will also accept the various circumstances they meet as being God’s will for them. They cannot change what God has determined, but they can enjoy whatever good they meet (11-14).
Avoid extremes (7:15-29)
One of the puzzles of life is that bad people often have long and prosperous lives, but good people suffer and sometimes die before they have had a chance to enjoy life. The writer suggests that people follow a middle course through life, where they do not ruin their lives through being either over-zealous for goodness and wisdom or over-tolerant towards sin and foolishness. Those who fear God will be successful in avoiding both extremes (15-18).
Certainly, wisdom is better than folly and right is better than wrong, but the reality is that everyone sins sometimes. Before condemning others, people should realize that they may have been guilty of similar things themselves (19-22).
Again the writer points out how his search for absolute wisdom failed. He found that the meaning of existence was beyond his understanding. So he turned to consider practical wisdom in relation to human conduct, and discovered the disaster that results from wickedness and stupidity (23-25). His own experience taught him the ruin that an immoral woman can bring to the man who falls victim to her temptations. He also came to the conclusion that, though he might find one man in a thousand whom he could respect, he could not find one such woman. For this he blames not God but the human race in general. People have become too smart for their own good (26-29).