Mar 31, 2018
Extremism. That’s a dirty word these days, because we’ve have been trained to fear extremists of all kinds, including religious and political extremists. They’re regularly portrayed as dangerous and potentially deadly. And Solomon would tend to agree. In Ecclesiastes 7:15-29, he’s going to warn against extremism, but not some external kind of radicalism and polarizing political posturing. No, he’s going to warn against going to personal extremes in the daily affairs of life. And, as usual, Solomon spoke as a seasoned expert on the topic. He starts out claiming that, in his long life, he had seen it all. In fact, he had tried it all. He had seen the religious zealot who spent his entire life pursuing righteousness, only to die at the end of his life – just like the wicked man who had made his pursuit of wickedness his full-time passion. And yet, the wicked man lived longer than the righteous one. In these verses, Solomon seems to be advocating a life of balance, rather than extremes. He warns against not being overly righteous and not trying to make yourself too wise. After all, as far as he could see, neither extreme was going to prevent trials and troubles, or hold off the inevitable outcome of death. Since nobody could be perfectly and completely righteous at all times, it made no sense to Solomon to waste time trying to be overly righteous. It was a waste of time. But so was the other extreme. A life of foolishness and wickedness may appear tempting, but a steady diet of it could be deadly. That’s why Solomon advocated a life that landed somewhere in the middle. But was he right? Is this sound advice or the resigned ramblings of a man who found everything to be nothing but vanity and a chasing after the wind?