Over-Righteous: Can a Christian Become Over-Wise?

If a voice calls you over-righteous in your heart when you play a wise role in a tough circumstance, don’t feel bad because your reward is heaven.

Today’s message explains how Ecclesiastes chapter 7 verse 15 to 17 can confuse you about the practice of righteousness.

“All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.

Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? {destroy…: Heb. be desolate?}

Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? {before…: Heb. not in thy time?}” (kjv)

The Context of Book of Ecclesiastes

Remember the rule of reading the bible which involves understanding the concept of the writer, the content and context.

The book of Ecclesiastes is completely a personal deduction of King Solomon about the kind of life he lived. It’s full of regrets.

There is no single verse in this book that God neither speaks nor give instruction to king Solomon. So, you have to be very careful when reading the book.

When you test some of the expressions with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, you will notice that some of king Solomon’s expression in the book of Ecclesiastes failed woefully.

The first part of verse 15 gives us an understanding that verse 16 and 17 are product of “his days of vanity”.

What are King Solomon days of vanity?

The days he enjoyed life without God’s direction. The days he spent without obeying the instructions of the LORD. The days his wives and concubines turned his heart away from the LORD.

The book of First King chapter 11 verse 1 and 2 : “But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites-from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love.”

Can I Obey the King’s instruction?

No Christian is expected to yield to his advice in Ecclesiastes chapter 7 verse 16 and 17: “Be not righteous over much…. Be not over much wicked…”

King Solomon is not speaking proverbially in verse 15, he shared the experience of a just man who die speaking the truth.

And in his own opinion (not led by God); in verse 16, he advised his audience to sit on the fence when it comes to the issue of speaking (or acting) the truth.

In verse 17, he admonished his audience to be wicked but no too much wickedness. For instance, when someone embarrass you treat his mess!

Verse 16 and 17 give us a clear picture of the “life of vanity” king Solomon lived. A life of a little righteousness and a little wickedness.

Does Jesus Have Any Reference to Over-Righteous?

  1. Jesus teaches us to be righteous in all the days of our life. He never mentioned over-righteousness, because there is nothing of such. If you are controlled by the Holy Spirit, you cannot be over-righteous. Righteousness is a lifestyle in Christ.

Jesus says: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)


So, don’t feel bad when you are hurt or embarrassed for the sake of righteousness.


  1. Jesus never encouraged any form of wickedness for the Christians. Wickedness of any measure is a sin.


“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:21-23)

Writer of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes contradicts himself

I always feel bad when I read the latter end of King Solomon’s life. He lived a contradictory life. Can you believe someone who wrote against wickedness in his book of Proverbs can write in support of such act latter in his life?

Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.” (Proverbs 10:2)

No wonder the end of king Solomon was not as glorious as his early days.

“…And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father… And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king’s seed in Edom…” (Please read 1King chapter 11)

Are All Books Scriptures From the LORD?

Not all collections in the Bible are Scriptures from the LORD. The 66 books were collated by men, it might shock you to know that there are many more Scriptures not found anymore. Though, the few we have is enough for us with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s statement to Timothy was recorded in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Paul’s definition of scripture is; God’s message written by servants of God. Perfect examples are all the book of the Prophets. It might shock you to know that not all the statements of Paul must be obeyed. You have to sieve his letters to separate God’s message and his own personal opinion.

For instance, 1Corinthians 7:6 “But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment…” Others are: 1Cor 7:12,25; 2Cor 8:8; 11:17

Note: Paul never knew which books would be collated to make up the 66 books we read today as Bible.

So, Paul’s statement in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 does not authorise you to believe and obey king Solomon’s statement in Ecclesiastes 7:15-17 because it is not an inspiration from God, it is not a profitable doctrine and to make matters worse it was not for instruction in righteousness.


Finally, the instructions you are expected to obey in the Bible are God’s speech in the Old and New Testaments. Messages of Jesus in the New Testament. Direct messages of God through the disciples. Some selected messages of God through Paul.

You are not obliged to obey other books and letters without direct message of God. But they are useful to learn from the writers. For instance, I learnt from king Solomon that my wealth should be under the control of Jesus Christ and not by the beauties of life, parties, drinks or women…   

About Ekundayo

I am an evangelist in the vineyard of the Lord since 2000 moving from one place to another to spread the gospel of Jesus.

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