It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men…
I. THE POSITIVELY EVIL THING. "The laughter of fools," or "the song of fools," may be pleasant enough at the moment, but it is evil; for
(1) it proceeds from folly, and
(2) it tends to folly. Of the many things which are here implicitly condemned, there may be mentioned:
1. The irreverent or the impure jest or song.
2. The immoderate feast - particularly indulgence in the tempting cup.
3. The society of the ungodly, sought in the way of friendship and enjoyment, as distinguished from the way of duty or of benevolence.
4. The voice of flattery.
II. THE COMPARATIVELY UNPROFITABLE THING. TWO things are mentioned in Scripture as being lawful, but as being of comparatively slight value - bodily indulgence and bodily exercise (see 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Timothy 4:8). "The house of feasting" (ver. 2) is a right place to be found in, as is also the gymnasium, or the recreation-ground, or the place of entertainment. But it is very easy to think of some place that is worthier. As those that desire to attain to heavenly wisdom, to a Christ-like character, to the approval of God, let us see that we only indulge in the comparatively unprofitable within the limits that become us. To go beyond the bound of moderation is to err, and even to sin. Fun may grow into folly, pleasure pass into dissipation, the training of the body become an extravagant athleticism, in the midst of which the culture of the spirit is neglected, and the service of Christ forsaken. It behooves us to "keep under" that which is secondary, to forbid it the first place or the front rank, whether in our esteem or in our practice.
III. THE DISGUISED BLESSING. It is not difficult to reach the heart of these paradoxes (vers. 2-5). There is pain of heart in visiting the house where death has come to the door, as there is in receiving the rebuke of a true friend; but what are the issues of it? What is to be gained thereby? What hidden blessing does it not contain? How true it is that it is
"Better to have a quiet grief Than a tumultuous joy"! That the hollow laughter of folly is a very poor and sorry thing indeed compared with the wisdom-laden sorrow, when all things are weighed in the balances. To have a chastened spirit, to have the heart which has been taught of God great spiritual realities, to have had an enlarging and elevating vision of the things which are unseen and eternal, to have been impressed with the transiency of earthly good and with the excellency of "the consolations which are in Christ Jesus," to be lifted up, if but one degree, toward the spirit and character of the self-sacrificing Lord we serve, to have had some fellowship with the sufferings of Christ, - surely this is incomparably preferable to the most delicious feast or the most hilarious laughter. To go down to the home that is darkened by bereavement or saddened by some crushing disappointment, and to pour upon the troubled hearts there the oil of true and genuine sympathy, to bring such spirits up from the depths of utter hopelessness or overwhelming grief into the light of Divine truth and heavenly promise, - thus "to do good and to communicate" is not only to offer acceptable sacrifice unto God, but it is also to be truly enriched in our own soul. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.