Solomon has given us three “better than” statements in the first three verses of Ecclesiastes chapter seven. He said that a good name is better than great riches. He said it’s better to go to a funeral than to go to a party. He said 10 snap2sorrow is better than laughter. And next, in Ecclesiastes 7:5 he gives us the fourth “better than” statement: “It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.” Verse six compares the song of fools with “the crackling of thorns under a pot.” The fire produced by thorn branches make a lot of noise but don’t produce any lasting heat. The snap, crackle and pop of the songs of fools might win our attention at the moment, but will ultimately desert us in our greatest moment of need and teach us nothing about the true meaning of life.

Kathy gave me “The History of Rock and Roll” for my birthday. It is a 10 part series produced by PBS. She knows I’m a child of the 60s! Since I broke my arm, I’ve had some time to watch it. Honestly, I’ve never felt more convicted of the foolishness (stupidity?) of my fascination with the music of my youth. From Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and yes, even the king himself, Elvis, all the way through Metallica, Black Sabbath, and Kiss up to the punk rock era and into the 90s, and beyond there’s nothing but the snap, crackle and pop of gimmick after gimmick to momentarily grab our attention. Yes, the talentless screaming and ranting and ravings accompanied by the lewd lyrics and antics of the performers can be described in no other way than the songs of fools. The series ends with the 90s, but thinking of Miley Cyrus makes me think that the world is still obsessed with snap, crackle and pop of fools. There is actually a contemporary rock band called, “Snap, Crackle & Pop.”

Solomon’s song in Ecclesiastes may not contain much snap, crackle or pop, but it stands as a timeless example of the music that matters: a rebuke from the wisest man in the world inspired by God to bring lasting warmth as we walk together through the valley of the shadow of death. Ryken summarizes this truth well: “This is why the Preacher says it is much better for us to hear the rebuke of the wise. Someone who cares enough to confront will tell us to get serious about life and death. Listening to the constructive criticism of a godly friend can save our soul. Wise people will say all of the things that Ecclesiastes says. They will tell us that living for pleasure and working for selfish gain are striving after wind. They will tell us that God has a time for everything, including a time to be born and a time to die. They will tell us that two are better than one in facing all of the toils and trials of life. They will tell us that because God is in Heaven and we are on earth, we should be careful what we say. They will tell us that money will never satisfy our souls. In short, they will teach us not to live for today but to live for eternity.”