A. Discourse on Death - 7:1-6
We have here a series of proverbial statements on what death teaches us about life. Solomon's opening statement (v. 1) is a bit confusing, though. His point seems to be that "as inner character is more crucial than outer fragrance, so it is the funeral, not the rowdy birthday party, that poses the ultimate questions about life" (Eaton, 109). In other words, death-days are more instructive than birth-days. The verses that follow (2-6) are not primarily an exhortation nor even a prohibition but rather an inspired observation concerning life.
B. Four Dangers - 7:7-10
1. Dishonesty - v. 7
2. Impatience -v. 8
3. Anger - v. 9
4. Nostalgia - v. 10
One cannot face the difficulties of one age by pining for another.
C. The Protection Wisdom Brings - 7:11-12
D. The Sovereignty of God - 7:13-14
The phrase "what he has bent" is rendered in many translations as "crookedness". However, this does not refer to moral crookedness but rather the irregular, seemingly happenstance and random character of things in life.
E. The Sin of Self-Deception - 7:15-18
These verses may be the most misunderstood in the book. It is likely that the proper translation is: "do not think yourself (to be) excessively wise". Also, the "righteousness" against which he warns is legalism. Hence, it is a warning against self-deception and pride. Neither should the wise man multiply wickedness and be a fool (v. 17). The advice of v. 18 is that we should "grasp" the counsel of v. 16 and "not let go" of the counsel of v. 17.
F. The Strength that Wisdom Supplies -7:19-20
G. The Danger of Words - 7:21-22
H. The Weakness of Wisdom - 7:23-24
I. The Character of Man - 7:25-29
1. resolve - v. 25
2. results - vv. 26-29
a. one woman in particular - v. 26
He has in mind the woman of Prov. 5 and 7, not all women in general.
b. all men and women in particular - vv. 27-29
Could this verdict be colored somewhat by Solomon's experience with 300 wives and 700 concubines? He finds men only one-tenth of one percent better than women!
[8:1 is a transition verse.]
J. Submission to Authority - 8:1-9
1. obey the king - v. 2
2. don't be disloyal - v. 3a
3. don't defend injustice - vv. 3b-4
4. the blessings of obedience - vv. 5-6
5. the limitations of political power - vv. 7-8
6. conclusion - v. 9
K. Injustice and Judgment - 8:10-14
1. injustice - vv. 10-11
a. honorable treatment of the wicked - v. 10
b. delay in punishment encourages crime - v. 11
2. judgment - vv. 12-14
a. reward for the righteous - v. 12
b. recompense for the wicked - v. 13
c. summary - v. 14
L. Concluding Observations - 8:15-17
1. man's pleasure - v. 15
2. God's providence - vv. 16-17
Even after we have been treated to an elaborate discussion of the plan of God and how it may in most cases be reconciled with life's seeming inequities, with shocking candor Solomon asserts (8:17) that there are still some insoluble mysteries in God's providence. We must be content not to know everything. Neither hard work, persistent endeavor, nor even wisdom will unravel all mysteries. If someone professing to be wise claims to have figured it all out, he is only fooling himself.