Solomon continues to make contrasts between two life experiences for us by identifying the “better” of the two. Unfortunately his idea of what’s better doesn’t always agree with mine. Under the normal order of things I would 06 deathprefer to attend the wedding of a friend than their funeral. But in Ecclesiastes 7:2 he says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” It has been suggested that Solomon became obsessed with death in his old age. He was a young man when he penned the erotic thoughts in the Song of Solomon. He was a mature king when he recorded the Proverbs, but most agree that he was an old man when he wrote Ecclesiastes. Like me, Solomon probably paid more attention to the obituaries than he did when he was younger, but I don’t think he was “obsessed” with death. He was reminding us all not to ignore the reality of death because it has so much to teach us. In Psalm 90, Moses wrote, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).

The scriptures don’t condone an unhealthy focus on death; rather it directs us specifically to the appropriate way to deal with its reality. Dr. Ernest Becker wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book entitled, “The Denial of Death” back in the 70s. He suggested that the fear of death “haunts the human animal like nothing else.” He also suggests that all the time consuming distractions we invest in are merely activities, “…designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying in some way that it is the final destiny for man.” As Solomon looked at all the activities of man “under the sun” we might think that he agreed with Dr. Becker. Solomon sees that a life lived without God is that way. But when he brings God into the picture there is new meaning to life and new freedom to enjoy the gift of life that God has granted us. For those who believe in a loving, caring God we gain insight into what Solomon meant back in Chapter 3, “He placed eternity in the hearts of man.”

It’s a wise person who factors the truth of his mortality into everyday life decisions. I like the way Bill Macdonald says it, “Every thinking person must take into account the fact of death and should have a philosophy of life which enables him or her to confidently face that inevitable appointment. The gospel tells of the Savior, who, through death, destroyed him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and who delivers all those who, through fear of death, are subject to lifelong bondage.” This is why John 3:16 is such a famous verse: “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son so that whoever believes in Him will never perish but will have everlasting life.”