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We received the following question:

“In behalf of the Roosevelt Park Men’s Soviet;

I have been asked to present to you the following problem.

“At one of our meetings, the verses 27 and 29 of Eccl. 7 were discussed. After considerable discussion we have not been able to come to any satisfactory con elusions as to the true meaning of these verses. I was then decided by the society to request of you v clarification of this passage, providing you can find time to do so.

“We would very much appreciate having you give the reply in the Standard Bearer.

Thanking you we remain,

Yours in the Lord,

Roosevelt Park Men’s Society Joe VandenBerg, Secretary.”

Answer:

  1. Many are the different interpretations offered of these verses. Some spiritualize the man, and the woman, the former representing true wisdom, the latter heresy, though that would seem to render the understanding of vs. 28 more difficult still. Others, looking for a solution in the same direction, make of the one man among a thousand Christ. Many are they who consider the estimate expressed of woman in vs. 28 too pessimistic. They emphasize the fact that here we have but the subjective judgment of the preacher, and that either his own experience with women tended to distort his judgment of them, or he lived in an age of special degradation and corruption, like that before the flood, or again, he may have selected his “thousand” from the wrong classes of society.
  2.  It seems to me that when these words are taken in their simple meaning, there is no reason to adopt the view we have here the mistaken judgment of a man of whom “we can only say that he was specially unfortunate in his experience,” or “the expression of that terrible feeling of satiety and loathing which is the curse following upon gross sensuality such as that of the historical Solomon, with his three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines,” or as the “moralizings of a satiated debauchee,” which “no sensible person would take without considerable deductions.” (J.W. in the Pulpit Commentary.) The text does not deny that there are good women, nor is Solomon ignorant of the existence of the good woman, or lacking in high appreciation of her, as is evident, not only from Prov. 31, and the Song of Songs, but also from passages in this same book of Ecclesiastes. The Preacher here compares the man and the woman, not according to the standard of ethical perfection, for then he would not have found one man, any more than one woman, among a thousand” is he that approaches the ideal according and calling and position in life. The “one man among a thousand” is he that approaches the ideal according to the purpose for which he was created, i.e. with a view to his relative position in life, and that, too, in relation to, and comparison with the woman. And the “one woman among a thousand” is she that from the same viewpoint approaches the same ideal of a woman, that willingly and humbly, assumes her position as wife and mother, without rebellion, and without aspiring to take man’s position. And he draws the conclusion, not that there are some men like that, while there are no such women, but that, while they are scarce enough with regard to either sex, there are fewer women than men that approach this ideal: one man among a thousand, not one woman among a thousand. One does not find very many real men; real women are still scarcer. And blessed is the man that finds one!

It seems to me, that thus understood (and this is all the text expresses), there is nothing that is in conflict with the rest of the Word of God. And, to be sure, the modern world of women offers no difficulty to accept this judgment as quite in accord with reality.

H.H.