Ecclesiastes 7:3
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Frustration is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.

New Living Translation
Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.

English Standard Version
Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.

New American Standard Bible
Sorrow is better than laughter, For when a face is sad a heart may be happy.

King James Bible
Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Grief is better than laughter, for when a face is sad, a heart may be glad.

International Standard Version
Sorrow is better than laughter, because the heart is made better through trouble.

NET Bible
Sorrow is better than laughter, because sober reflection is good for the heart.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Sorrow is better than laughter because, in spite of a sad face, the heart can be joyful.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made whole.

King James 2000 Bible
Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

American King James Version
Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

American Standard Version
Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made glad.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Anger is better than laughter: because by the sadness of the countenance the mind of the offender is corrected.

Darby Bible Translation
Vexation is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

English Revised Version
Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made glad.

Webster's Bible Translation
Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

World English Bible
Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the face the heart is made good.

Young's Literal Translation
Better is sorrow than laughter, For by the sadness of the face the heart becometh better.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

7:1-6 Reputation for piety and honesty is more desirable than all the wealth and pleasure in this world. It will do more good to go to a funeral than to a feast. We may lawfully go to both, as there is occasion; our Saviour both feasted at the wedding of his friend in Cana, and wept at the grave of his friend in Bethany. But, considering how apt we are to be vain and indulge the flesh, it is best to go to the house of mourning, to learn the end of man as to this world. Seriousness is better than mirth and jollity. That is best for us which is best for our souls, though it be unpleasing to sense. It is better to have our corruptions mortified by the rebuke of the wise, than to have them gratified by the song of fools. The laughter of a fool is soon gone, the end of his mirth is heaviness.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 3. - Sorrow is better than laughter. This is a further expansion of the previous maxim, כַּעַס (kaas), as contrasted with שְׂהוק, is rightly rendered "sorrow," "melancholy," or, as Ginsburg contends, "thoughtful sadness." The Septuagint has θυμός, the Vulgate ira; but auger is not the feeling produced by a visit to the house of mourning. Such a scene produces saddening reflection, which is in itself a moral training, and is more wholesome and elevating than thoughtless mirth. For by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The feeling which shows itself by the look of sadness (comp. Genesis 40:7; Nehemiah 2:2) has a purifying effect on the heart, gives a moral tone to the character. Professor Tayler Lewis renders the clause, "For in the sad. ness of the face the heart becometh fair;" i.e. sorrow beautifies the soul, producing, as it were, comeliness, spiritual beauty, and, in the end, serener happiness. The Vulgate translates the passage thus: Melter eat ira risu; quia per tristitiam vultus corrigitur animus deliquentis, "Better is anger than laughter, because through sadness of countenance the mind of the offender is corrected." The anger is that either of God or of good men which reproves sin; the laughter is that of sinners who thus show their connivance at or approval of evil. There can be no doubt that this is not the sense of the passage. For the general sentiment concerning the moral influence of grief and suffering, we may compare the Greek sayings, Τὰ παθήματα μαθήματα, and Τί μαθών τί παθών; which are almost equivalent in meaning (comp. AEschyl., 'Again.,' 170; Herod., 1:207). The Latins would say, "Quaenocent, docent," and we, "Pain is gain."

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Sorrow is better than laughter,.... Sorrow, expressed in the house of mourning, is better, more useful and commendable, than that foolish laughter, and those airs of levity, expressed in the house of feasting; or sorrow on account of affliction and troubles, even adversity itself, is oftentimes much more profitable, and conduces more to the good of men, than prosperity; or sorrow for sin, a godly sorrow, a sorrow after a godly sort, which works repentance unto salvation, that needeth not to be repented of, is to be preferred to all carnal mirth and jollity. It may be rendered, "anger is better than laughter" (h); which the Jews understand of the anger of God in correcting men for sin; which is much better than when he takes no notice of them, but suffers them to go on in sin, as if he was pleased with them; the Midrash gives instances of it in the generation of the flood and the Sodomites: and the Targum inclines to this sense,

"better is the anger, with which the Lord of that world is angry against the righteous in this world, than the laughter with which he derides the ungodly.''

Though it may be better, with others, to understand it of anger in them expressed against sin, in faithful though sharp rebukes for it; which, in the issue, is more beneficial than the flattery of such who encourage in it; see Proverbs 27:5;

for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better: when the sadness is not hypocritical, as in the Scribes and Pharisees, but serious and real, arising from proper reflections on things in the mind; whereby the heart is drawn off from vain, carnal, and sensual things; and is engaged in the contemplation of spiritual and heavenly ones, which is of great advantage to it: or by the severity of the countenance of a faithful friend, in correcting for faults, the heart is made better, which receives those corrections in love, and confesses its fault, and amends.

(h) "melior est ira risu", Pagninus, Mercerus; "melior est indigatio risu", Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

3. Sorrow—such as arises from serious thoughts of eternity.

laughter—reckless mirth (Ec 2:2).

by the sadness … better—(Ps 126:5, 6; 2Co 4:17; Heb 12:10, 11). Maurer translates: "In sadness of countenance there is (may be) a good (cheerful) heart." So Hebrew, for "good," equivalent to "cheerful" (Ec 11:9); but the parallel clause supports English Version.

Ecclesiastes 7:3 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Value of Wisdom
2It is better to go to a house of mourning Than to go to a house of feasting, Because that is the end of every man, And the living takes it to heart. 3Sorrow is better than laughter, For when a face is sad a heart may be happy. 4The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.…
Cross References
2 Corinthians 7:10
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

Ecclesiastes 2:2
"Laughter," I said, "is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?"

Ecclesiastes 7:4
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
Treasury of Scripture

Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

sorrow is better

Psalm 119:67,71 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept your word…

Psalm 126:5,6 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy…

Jeremiah 31:8,9,15-20 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them …

Jeremiah 50:4,5 In those days, and in that time, said the LORD, the children of Israel …

Daniel 9:3 And I set my face to the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, …

Daniel 10:2,3,19 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks…

Zechariah 12:10-14 And I will pour on the house of David, and on the inhabitants of …

Luke 6:21,25 Blessed are you that hunger now: for you shall be filled. Blessed …

John 16:20-22 Truly, truly, I say to you, That you shall weep and lament, but the …

2 Corinthians 7:9-11 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you sorrowed …

James 4:8-10 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, …

by

Romans 5:3,4 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that …

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us …

Hebrews 12:10,11 For they truly for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; …

James 1:2-4 My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations…

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