“It is better to go to the house of mourning,
than to go to the house of feasting:
for that is the end of all men;
and the living will lay it to his heart.”
(Ecclesiastes 7:2)

The world loves to go to the house of feasting. They like to participate in parties, banquets and buffets where there is much merry-making and laughter. On the other hand, the house of mourning fills man with much grief and sorrow. Thus, many would rather be found feasting than participating in a vigil service or funeral, for the former is a supposed picture of happiness, whereas the latter a picture of sadness and pain.

Yet King Solomon, the wisest man on the earth during his time, goes against the thinking of the world, and tells us that it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of the feasting. Why is this so?

The house of feasting often presents a false picture of the life of man. It is as if man’s life will never come to an end. However, the Scriptures teaches us that because all men are sinners, they have to die as they have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Men who die in their sins will find themselves in the eternal judgement of hell and the lake of fire. The house of mourning jolts us back to reality, and reminds us of the transient nature of life, and the consequences of sin. How often we forget! It also poses the question to the living – are you ready to die? If you die, where will you be? Will you be in hell? Or will you be in heaven?

Nevertheless, the vigil service and funeral of a saint is also a time of great comfort and rejoicing for believers, for it reminds us that Christ has already wrought victory over corruption, sin and death. Death to a saint is but a sleep. His soul is absent from the body, but present with the Lord, awaiting the day when Christ will return, and the dead in Christ shall rise with their glorified bodies. O what a wonderful day that will be! We await the day where we will meet the departed saint together with our Lord!

Consider 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Lastly, the house of mourning is also a time for the preaching of the gospel of Christ, for the body of the departed is a reminder of man’s need for Jesus Christ to save them from their sins. That is why it is the conviction of this preacher that the gospel has to be presented at every vigil service. The dead has now departed. It is the living whom the preacher is ministering to. Every one of us needs the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel comforts those who have believed in Christ. It also has the power to save those who have not trusted in Christ. May the gospel message ring out loud and clear in every vigil service and funeral, and bring many to find wonderful deliverance in Christ!
It is with this in mind that this preacher count it a great privilege to minister at the vigil and burial services of Mr Ho Wing Him, the father of Elder Douglas Ho. He is also heartened to see the love of the brethren who have turned up to comfort the bereaved. Let us always remember the exhortation from God’s Word that it is better to go to the house of the mourning than to the house of feasting. Amen.

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew


Rev. Timothy Tow on Ecclesiastes 7:2, 4 (Taken from Lessons from the University of Life)
“It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart … The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth” (verses 2,4). Why is the day of death better than the day of one’s birth? Because death is the conclusion of a life of struggles, but birth is the beginning—in a sinful world of vexation and vanity. So it is better to attend a funeral than to go to a feast, for it is the conclusion of life and those who attend funerals will be sobered down to the reality of life.

“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Death confronts us whether we are prepared to meet it. Where will you end up, in heaven or in hell?

A little girl of four we know was confronted by death in the form of a coffin brought to Church for the memorial service. She told her father she was scared of death. The father showed the little daughter the way of escape by turning to the Lord Jesus Christ—the Son of God who died on the cross to take away all her sins. She readily received the Lord into her heart. She now turns to Jesus whenever the thought of death scares her.

While it is legitimate to attend both funerals and wedding parties, it will do us more good to go to funerals. Considering how apt we are to be vain and secure at a wedding party, it is preferable to go to the house of mourning to learn from the dead. Jesus went to a wedding feast once but three times to the funeral. At the wedding feast our Lord joined them in earthly happiness, at the funerals He raised the dead to life and further He gave everlasting life to those who trusted in Him.