Ecclesiastes 7:4
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.House of mourning ... house of mirth - These phrases acquire a forcible significance from the Eastern custom of prolonging both festive and mournful celebrations through several days. See Genesis 50:10; Judges 14:17. This verse indicates that a life of enjoyment, does not mean the abandonment of ourselves to pleasures, but the thankful and sober use of the beautiful things which God gives us. 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.

The heart of the wise is in the house of morning, even when their bodies are absent. They are constantly, or very frequently, meditating upon sad and serious firings, such as death and judgment, the vanity of this life, and the reality and eternity of the next, because they know that these thoughts, though they be not grateful to the sensual part, yet they are absolutely necessary, and highly profitable, and most comfortable in the end, which every wise man most regards.

The heart of fools is in the house of mirth; their minds and affections are wholly set upon feasting and jollity, because, like fools and brutish creatures, they regard only their present delight, and mind not how dearly they must pay for them. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,.... When his body is not; when it does not suit him to go thither in person, his mind is there, and his thoughts are employed on the useful subjects of the frailty and mortality of human nature, of death, a future judgment, and a world to come; which shows him to be a wise man, and concerned for the best things, even for his eternal happiness in another state;

but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth; where jovial company is, merry songs are sung, and the cup or glass passes briskly round, and all is gay and brilliant: here the fool desires to be oftener than he is, and when he cannot; which shows the folly of his mind, what a vain taste he has, and how thoughtless he is of a future state, and of his eternal welfare.

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. The heart of the wise] This follows as the natural sequel. Like goes to like. The impulse of the fool takes him to that which promises enjoyment; that of the wise leads him to that which has the promise of a higher wisdom and therefore of a more lasting gain.Verse 4. - The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning. This is the natural conclusion from what was said in vers. 2, 3. The man who recognizes the serious side of life, and knows where to learn lessons of high moral meaning, will be found conversant with scenes of sorrow and suffering, and reflecting upon them. But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. The fool, who thinks of nothing but present enjoyment, and how to make life pass pleasantly, turns away from mournful scenes, and goes only there where he may drown care and be thoughtless and merry. "That which hath been, its name hath long ago been named; and it is determined what a man shall be: and he cannot dispute with Him who is stronger than he." According to the usage of the tense, it would be more correct to translate: That which (at any time) has made its appearance, the name of which was long ago named, i.e., of which the What? and the How? were long ago determined, and, so to speak, formulated. This שׁ ... כּבר does not stand parallel to היה כבר, Ecclesiastes 1:10; for the expression here does not refer to the sphere of that which is done, but of the predetermination. Accordingly, אדם ... ונו is also to be understood. Against the accents, inconsistently periodizing and losing sight of the comprehensiveness of אדם ... אשׁר, Hitzig renders: "and it is known that, if one is a man, he cannot contend," etc., which is impossible for this reason, that אדם הוא cannot be a conditional clause enclosed within the sentence יוכל ... אשׁר. Obviously ונודע, which in the sense of constat would be a useless waste of words, stands parallel to שׁמו נקרא, and signifies known, viz., previously known, as passive of ידע, in the sense of Zechariah 14:7; cf. Psalm 139:1. Bullock rightly compares Acts 15:18. After ידע, asher, like ki, which is more common, may signify "that," Ecclesiastes 8:12; Ezekiel 20:26; but neither "that he is a man" (Knobel, Vaih., Luzz., Hengst., Ginsb.), nor "that he is the man" (Ewald, Elst., Zckler), affords a consistent meaning. As mah after yada' means quid, so asher after it may mean quod equals that which (cf. Daniel 8:19, although it does not at all stand in need of proof); and id quod homo est (we cannot render הוּא without the expression of a definite conception of time) is intended to mean that the whole being of a man, whether of this one or that one, at all times and on all sides, is previously known; cf. to this pregnant substantival sentence, Ecclesiastes 12:13. Against this formation of his nature and of his fate by a higher hand, man cannot utter a word.

The thought in 10b is the same as that at Isaiah 45:9; Romans 9:20. The Chethı̂b שׁהתּקּיף

(Note: With He unpointed, because it is omitted in the Kerı̂, as in like manner in כּשׁה, Ecclesiastes 10:3, שׁה, Lamentations 5:18. In the bibl. Rabb., the ה is noted as superfluous.)

is not inadmissible, for the stronger than man is מנּהּ ... מרי. Also התקיף might in any case be read: with one who overcomes him, has and manifests the ascendency over him. There is indeed no Hiph. הת .hpiH found in the language of the Bible (Herzf. and Frst compare הג, Psalm 12:5); but in the Targ., אתקף is common; and in the school-language of the Talm., הת is used of the raising of weighty objections, e.g., Kamma 71a. The verb, however, especially in the perf., is in the passage before us less appropriate. In לא־יוּכל lie together the ideas of physical (cf. Genesis 43:32; Deuteronomy 12:17; Deuteronomy 16:5, etc.) and moral inability.

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