Who is the one man among a thousand and why couldn’t a woman be found?


What does Ecclesiastes 7:28 mean? Who did Solomon refer to as the one upright man? Was it himself? Did Solomon manage to find a good wife, as some verses from Proverbs and Ecclesiastes seem to suggest not? If yes, how could he love them but not seem to trust or find them good? Can love and lack of trust go together?

If he was wise, why did he follow his wives and turn away from God? Was Ecclesiastes written before or after he turned away from God, and does it matter?

Is it true that in general there are more wise men than women?

What is the Bible definition of upright? Can an upright person commit sin?


""Behold, I have discovered this," says the Preacher, "adding one thing to another to find an explanation, which I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one man among a thousand, but I have not found a woman among all these. Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices"" (Ecclesiastes 7:27-29).

Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes to consider why God put men on the earth. "And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised" (Ecclesiastes 1:13). Because of the many projects Solomon mentions working on in chapter two, I would suspect that Ecclesiastes was written in the middle to late in his reign, but before his fall.

After discussing many points, both what cannot be true and what is true, Solomon notes that he has come to realize a point that was gained by combining smaller facts. Eventually, he argues that God put men on earth to serve Him. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). The problem Solomon is alluding to in Ecclesiastes 7 is that he has been looking for someone who has been upright and obedient to God, but he hasn't found anyone.

It goes back to the old problem of sin and its pervasiveness. "The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one" (Psalms 14:2-3). As Solomon notes, men are made upright by God -- we all start out life innocent and sinless (Deuteronomy 1:39) -- but then we go and mess things up by searching out sin. "Upright" means someone who is just or righteous.

Notice that Solomon says that despite people starting out upright, they end up sinning. He is still looking for someone who remains upright and hasn't found one. But then Ecclesiastes 7:28 seems to be a contradiction on the surface because he says he found one man out of thousands -- a man and not a woman. I take this to be a prophecy about the Messiah. The Messiah was still to come, that is why Solomon could not find him in his day. The Messiah would be a man, and not a woman, unique among mankind in that he would be upright where others failed (Hebrews 4:15).

Elihu makes a similar prophecy: "If there is a messenger for him, a mediator, one among a thousand, to show man his uprightness, then He is gracious to him, and says, 'Deliver him from going down to the Pit; I have found a ransom'" (Job 33:23-24). Elihu is saying if an upright man could truly be found among men, a very rare man indeed, then God will have found someone capable of redeeming mankind, and such a man would be delivered from death.

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