“And so I saw the wicked being buried — they entered the holy place and they repeatedly walked about but they are forgotten in the city where they worked. This also is vanity.”
Funerals are odd times in the life of a family and of a community. And I mean that with no disrespect. On the one hand, it is a time of grief over the one who has passed away, but on the other hand, they bring together family and friends in a way that rarely happens in the life of a family…apart from that of a funeral. Further, funerals are times of remembrance, but sometimes memories have a funny way of hiding themselves until other memories bring them about. Further, even the wicked are typically remembered fondly for some of the things they have done.
As Solomon reflects on life in this book, he often comes back to the notion of death — it is the great equalizer in the life of man. And so, he observes even as the wicked are buried some of the same things are said of them as are said of all men — they performed their religious duties and they did good works in the city. Again, we can say good things about even the most wicked people we have met…if we are honest, that is. Yet, they are forgotten. Then again, how many of the things done by righteous men will go forgotten as well. As a pastor, I have long lamented that the life of a man or a woman is reduced to a few paragraphs (if that) in the obituary column of a newspaper. How much more they did in their years…this indeed is something for we who remain to remember. The forgetfulness seems to imply that our works were in vain, yet, in God’s sovereign providence, they are not. It is all a matter of perspective.
Do not forget the works of those who have passed and do not let them pass on into oblivion — even the wicked. For in God’s design, even the wicked have their place and purpose.