Ecc 7.1-29 is Kohelet’s (Solomon) answer to his own question in Ecc 6.12, “Who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime?”
v 1…A good name is better than gold ointment (a good reputation preserves the dead person better than all the precious oils used in burials), and the day of one’s death (is better) than the day of his birth (because then he enters the Olam Haba, his work being over, At birth, his toil in life is just beginning).
v 2…It is better to go to a house of mourning (where people think about the meaning of life) than to go to a house of feasting (where nothing is serious) because that is the end of every man, and the living take it to heart (improves his understanding).
v 3…Sorrow (grief) is better than laughter (a proper grieving about the vanity of the world is better than loud entertainment that disregards the seriousness of life), for when a face is sad a heart may be happy (a proper attitude about life gives one joy because he understands and it is not based on trivial things).
v 4…The mind (Hebrew “lev” or heart, thoughts) of the wise is in the house of mourning (their thoughts are centered on the day of death), while the mind (heart) of fools is in the house of pleasure (only concerned with empty entertainment).
v 5…It is better to listen to the rebuke of the wise man (that brings improvement) than for one to listen to the song of fools (frivolous songs to forget about life and its consequences).
v 6…For as the crackling of thorn bushes under a pot (being consumed by a fire so fast that it barely heats the pot), so is the laughter of a fool (a roar for a moment, then it dies down). And this too is futility (a waste of time).
v 7…For oppression (by others) makes a wise man mad (he frets and is disturbed by it); and a bribe corrupts the heart (worldly wisdom can be easily lost).
v 8…The end of a matter is better than its Beginning (because the outcome can be examined and the outcome is no longer in doubt); patience of spirit (controls his temper, not provoked easily) is better than haughtiness of spirit (a violent temper leads to hasty actions).
v 9…Do not be eager in your heart (Hebrew “ruach” or spirit) to be angry (quick-tempered), for anger resides in the bosoms of fools (waiting to erupt).
v 10…Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these “(don’t complain)? For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this (because we look unthankful for the mercies we have received, we should be content with our lot and life because it is ordained by Yehovah).
v 11…Wisdom along with an inheritance is good (he can be self-supporting and not be concerned over possessions), and an advantage to those who see the sun (it can benefit others).
v 12…For wisdom is protector (shelter) just as money is protection (a defense), but the advantage of knowledge (da’at of God in the facts) is that wisdom (chachmah) preserves the lives of its possessors (knowing that wisdom can give us life makes it better than wealth).
v 13…Consider the work of God (observe it) for who is able to straighten what he has bent (nobody can stop God’s will, if he brings calamity, famine or sword there is no stopping him).
v 14…In the day of prosperity be happy (enkoy it), but in the day of adversity consider (that evil comes eventually), God has made the one as well as the other (God is sovereign and in control) so that man may not discover anything that will be after him (will not be able to predict the future).
v 15…I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility (no purpose, a waste of time with Yehovah); there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness (the good suffer), then there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in wickedness (God permits him to live for his own reasons).
v 16… Do not be excessively righteous (external), and do not be overly wise (above what the Torah says or pretend to be a teacher but have no substance). Why should you ruin yourself (God will judge the arrogant).
v 17…Do not be excessively (boildly) wicked (persist in it) and do not be a fool (by rejecting the wisdom of God’s Torah). Why should you die before your time (provoke Yehovah to deal with you)?
v 18…It is good that you grasp one thing; and also not let go of the other (properly think about and keep this in mind); for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them (escape the things above in v 16-17).
v 19…Wisdom strengthens the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city (Godly wisdom will support one in trouble better than ten men, meaning many, uniting to protect him).
v 20…Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth (“adam tzaddik”) who contunually does good and never sins (as defined by the Torah-Rom 3.20-23; Gal 2.16; Psa 143.2).
v 21…Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken (concerning us or of others) lest you hear your servant curse you (which would bother you and treat him unkind).
v 22…For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others (unjustly).
v 23…I tested (examined) all this with wisdom and I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me (he determined to know all wisdom but the more he knew he was convinced of his own ignorance).
v 24…What has been is remote (far off) and exceedingly mysterious. Who can discover it (man cannot grasp the elusive wisdom and greatness of God and all his works)?
v 25…I directed my mind (Hebrew “heart” or attention) to know, to investigate, and to seek wisdom and an explanation (reason for things), and to know the evil of folly, and the foolishness of madness (of his own folly and madness).
v 26…And I discovered more bitter than death the woman (the harlot and adulterous woman of Proverbs; also a picture of false religion) whose heart is snares (crafty) and nets (to trap men), whose hands are chains (to hold in bondage). One who is pleasing to God will escape from her (be kept and preserved from falling-Jude 24; Col 1.17; Phil 2.13), but the sinner will be captured by her (handcuffed and chained).
v 27…”Behold (see), I have discovered this” says Kohelet (here the word is feminine and it means a collection of wisdom, not the name of Solomon), “adding one thing to another (summing it all up) to find an explanantion (a proper estimate of this subject),
v 28…which I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one man among a thousand (who is wise and virtuous) but I have not found a woman (who is wise and virtuous) among all these (he is not saying there are fewer good woman than men, but he is saying in his experience that he has not gone the right direction to find the virtuous woman because he deviated from the Torah about marriage and the king. In seeking a companion with wisdom, he ended up collecting a harem of pagan women for indulgence and to magnify himself. Solomon is repenting here and is warning others about the sins he has committed, not criticizing women-1 Kings 11.1-8).
v 29…Behold, I have found only this, that God made man upright (at first with Adam and Chava), but they have sought out many devices (and sinned, not content with their first estate, looked at other ways to be happy apart from what God said and corrupted themselves).