Ecclesiastes: Fear and Depend on God

Have you ever heard a person say, “That terrible thing should have never happened to her. She is such a godly person.” Or have you heard a person say, “He got what he deserved. He was a wicked man.” I’ll admit to thinking and saying both. Today’s passage deals with those thoughts. Let’s read it and then unpack it. 

Ecclesiastes 7:15-18
In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing. Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.

Some have referred to these verses as the “golden mean” or living a moderate lifestyle. This understanding leads us to believe that we shouldn’t be zealous in our righteousness nor indulgent in our wickedness—just stay in the middle lane. But this is a misunderstanding. The question, “Why should you destroy yourself?” is better understood as “appalled or astounded.” Solomon meant that people should not depend on their right living or wisdom as a guarantee for God’s blessing because they might be disappointed when trouble comes. Also, just because God did not punish the wicked in some cases should not be used as a license to indulge in sin.¹

This passage teaches us an important lesson. Depending on our righteousness as a guarantee for God’s blessing will leave us disappointed in God. On the other hand, living in sin is disobedience and dangerous. Our lives should be focused on fearing God—honoring and loving him. Our righteousness comes from him—purchased by Jesus on the cross. The guarantee is that we will live with God forever in eternity. That’s the believer’s great future hope regardless of today’s circumstances.

Thank God for sending his Son to make you righteous. 

Ask God to help you be faithful and obedient to him regardless of your circumstances.

Thank God for loving you unconditionally and forgiving you when you fail. 

Father, help me to honor and love you and show all those around me that I depend on you in every circumstance of my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.  


¹ Donald R. Glenn, “Ecclesiastes,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 994.


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