Ecclesiastes 7:13, 14
Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he has made crooked?…
Already in the tenth verse the Preacher has counseled his readers not to chafe against the conditions in which they find themselves. "Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these?" It is part of the true wisdom which he has praised "to consider the work of God," to accept the outward events of life, and believe that, whether they be pleasant or the contrary, they are determined by a will or power which we cannot control or change. It is wise to submit. The crooked we cannot make straight (Ecclesiastes 1:15); the cross which is laid upon us we cannot shake off, and had best bear without repining (cf. Job 8:3; Job 34:12; Psalm 146:9). A mingled draught is in the cup of life - prosperity and adversity, the sweet and the bitter. Remember that it is commended to your lips by a higher hand, which it is folly to resist; accept the portion which may be assigned to you. In the time of prosperity be in good spirits (ver. 14), let not forebodings of future evil damp the present enjoyment; in the time of adversity consider that it is God who has appointed the evil day as well as the good. The thought is the same as that in the Book of Job, "What? shall we receive good at the hands of God, and shall we not receive evil?" (Job 2:10). The reason why both good and evil are appointed us is given by the Preacher, though his words are somewhat obscure: "God also hath even made the one side by side with the other, to the end that man should not find out anything that shall be after him" (ver. 14b, Revised Version). The obscurity is in the thought rather than in the phrases used. The commonest explanation of the words is that they simply assert that to know the future is forbidden us. But the phrase, "after him," is always used to mean that which follows upon the present world (Ecclesiastes 3:22; Ecclesiastes 6:12; Job 21:21). Hitzig explains the words as implying, "that because God wills it that man shall be rid of all things after his death, he puts evil into the period of his life, and lets it alternate with good, instead of visiting him therewith after his death,' This explanation would make the passage equivalent to, Idcirco ut non inveniat homo post se quidquam, sell. quod non expertus est. But probably the best explanation of these words is that given by Delitzsch, who accepts this of Hitzig's with some modification: "What is meant is much rather this, that God causes man to experience good and evil, that he may pass through the whole school of life, and when he departs hence that nothing may be outstanding which he has not experienced." This interpretation of the various events of life, joyous and somber, as forming a complete disciplinary course, through which it is an advantage for us to pass, is the most worthy of the explanations of the words that they have received. And if we accept it as truly representing the author's thoughts, we may say that our author's researches were not so fruitless as he himself seems sometimes to assert. This recognition of a Divine purpose running through all the events of life is calculated to sanctify our enjoyment of the blessings we receive, and to comfort and sustain us in the day of sorrow and adversity. - J.W.
Parallel VersesKJV: Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?