Here are some thoughts I had while reading Ecclesiastes Chapter 7 today:
Verse 4: "The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth."
I have to admit that I was stumped when I first read through this. How could it possibly be better to be in a house of mourning? Mourning conjures images of pain, sadness, and loss, and it would be a stretch even for someone of great spiritual strength to say that they want to be there in the midst of mourning. Then I realized that I was taking it too literally (again,) After more thought, here's how I understand it: a wise person thinks of the end of their life (the time of mourning) and recognizes that there has to have been more to their life than just pleasure and laughter. They keep their eyes fixed on God and their eternal destination. Fools, on the other hand, live in the here and now. They seek out pleasure and distractions, and waste the time they do have. They pay no heed to their final destination.
Verse 14: "In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him."
Again, I think it's being emphasized that man should learn to live in the moment and enjoy what has been given, but not to lose sight of the eternal. It's a reminder that even if we enjoy prosperity, the temporal wealth isn't what's going to last. ("You can't take it with you.") What will remain after the riches are gone and we are dead and buried? If we are wise, it will be the influence we had on the lives of others, the impact we had on the world around us, and the love that we shared. It reminds us that even if we were to lose everything, God will still be there.
Verses 21-22: "Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear they servant curse thee; For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others."
It's good counsel to not take offense if you hear someone speaking badly of you. Nobody likes to hear someone else saying mean things about them, but if we are honest with ourselves, we'll admit that we've done the same thing to others. We should probably look for truth in what the person has said in case there is something we need to change, but then let it go. After all, we've all said things when we were hurt, angry, tired, or upset that we likely wouldn't have said otherwise. We usually don't know everything that contributed to a person's comments, so it's better to err on the side of mercy and work to forgive what's been heard than to hold onto it and let it fester. It's what we'd want when we get caught saying something we shouldn't.