To get a good sense of this verse, let’s read Ecclesiastes 7:15-18, “All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness. Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.”

In his day, Solomon had seen so many things. He had previously written in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “…there is no new thing under the sun.” Here in this portion, he says that he ‘has seen it all’! He points out that he has seen righteous men die young and evil men live long lives. His advice in verses 16-17 is quite perplexing.

While there are several schools of thought concerning these two verses. It seems that verse 16 is Solomon showing the reaction of an ungodly man to his words in verse 15. The ungodly would say that if living righteously can bring an early death, then do not try to live such a righteous life. We still have men today who would offer the same advice to believers who face rejection and persecution because of their testimony for Christ.

Yet, in verse 17, we have Solomon’s reaction to their words, warning them not to be wicked or foolish. Wickedness and foolishness is what really causes a person to ‘die before his time’. In fact, such a person would suffer an eternal death, away from the grace and love of God. The Lord tells us in Ezekiel 33:11, “…I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” As Solomon said in verse 18, “It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this…” If you have never trusted the Lord Jesus as your savior, may you be aware of the danger of living apart from the Lord and come to Him in repentance of your sins and receive Him as your Lord and savior. (160.9)