Ecclesiastes "Be Not Righteous Over Much"

"Be Not Righteous Over Much"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The writer, who takes as his text the words "vanity of vanities; all is vanity," says that all life is filled with monotony. One generation follows another, and the sun sets only to rise again. A life of wisdom and a life of pleasure show him only that the wise and the foolish both must die. Confronted by unchanging laws of nature, the seeming futility of life, and the uselessness of labor, man is no greater than a beast, which is also doomed to the grave. Having warned man of vanity in worship, the writer comments on the vanity of all wealth and all desire. He points out, however, that, in spite of the vanity of all things, man is given a choice in the degree of vanity, and that the wise man chooses the less vain things. Citing his experience, the writer argues that since God does not always bless the righteous and does not always punish the wicked, the wise man should choose the middle road:

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?