There’s nothing new under the sun which includes our bent to avoid the issue of death. Whenever I talked to my father about death he almost always side-stepped the conversation by changing the topic to one that was more “happy”. The Preacher’s instruction here is hard to swallow for a society that worships wealth, health, entertainment and the absence of pain. Death simply decimates those aspirations and reminds us that our appointment with it is looming:
A good name is better than a good ointment,
And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.
2 It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because that is the end of every man,
And the living takes it to heart. (Vv.1-2)
The house of mourning says the Preacher is “better than” or “preferable to” the “party” because it lurches us into questioning the meaning of life and forces us to confront our inevitable death. A funeral, not a feast wakes us up to the ultimate issue of life after death which the naturalist denies (ala atheism), or the monist attributes as illusory (ala Buddhism or Hinduism), but Christian theism explains so well in the Gospel accounts and in Paul’s letter to the Romans.
LORD, help us and teach us to live our lives in light of our appointed death today in word and deed. May we hold on to things loosely in light of eternity as we serve our fellow man for your NAME’S sake, and may we be vigilant.