Ecclesiastes 7: Praise We Have Earned

I know that some people will deny this, but I think it’s pretty fair to say that most of us have had quite a bit of praise in our lives. It might not be as much as we want, but all of us can at least think of a time where someone praised us for doing something really well.

Why did that praise mean anything?

I guess I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, all praise is not created equal. Sometimes, it means an awful lot when someone gives me a compliment, and other times, while it is certainly appreciated, it doesn’t mean quite as much.

Why is there a difference?

I think that for me, when I receive a compliment from someone who I know is sincere, it means more. When I receive a compliment from someone I respect, that means a lot. When I receive a compliment from someone who doesn’t hand out compliments easily, it means a lot.

I think this is what we are supposed to understand from Ecclesiastes 7. Obviously, we should be grateful for whatever praise people are willing to give to us, but I think that some praise means more than others.

Ecc 7:5  It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.

Ecc 7:6  For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.

It is interesting that this passage even goes one step further. We might like praise, but it is better to be rebuked by the wise than praised by the foolish. Why? The praise of the foolish is basically worthless. There is really nothing for you to gain from that praise. On the contrary, even though it might not be as pleasant to be corrected, when that comes from the wise, you are going to be better off than you were before.


Posted on May 19, 2014, in Ecclesiastes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. The context of the verses in Ecclesiastes takes one final step to make the point.

    “It is better to be criticized by the wise than praised by the foolish for the chatter of fools is like the crackling of burning twigs under a pot, a lot of noise but nothing is accomplished. Excessive praise, however, can turn the wise into fools for flattery corrupts the mind.”

    Most people believe that wisdom is simply something a person gains and then does not loose. Ecclesiastes tells us that it is situational and interpersonal and that it can be lost through poor judgment. If we allow people to sway us with their flattery we end up making unwise decisions and our wisdom turns into foolishness. As Kohelet, the author of Ecclesiastes says,

    “Just as a few dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly corrupts the greatest wisdom.”

    Vance –

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