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Increased Knowledge Increases Hardship

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16I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind. 18For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
(Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 ESV)


King Solomon knew that he had acquired great wisdom. He had a great amount of wisdom and knowledge. This certainly sounds like King Solomon [1 Kings 3]. But he also states that his wisdom surpassed all those who were over Jerusalem before him. This makes some people think that King Solomon was not the author of this book as there was only one over Jerusalem before him – his father King David.

But, Solomon could have been referring not only to previous kings but all the administrators in the government who assisted the king as well. For the most part, this verse does not present a strong objection to King Solomon’s authorship.

King Solomon applied his heart – he really worked hard – to know wisdom. But he also worked hard at knowing madness and folly – the opposite of wisdom. Solomon looked at life from an intellectual point of view as well as an ignorant point of view. And what he discovered was surprising.

Solomon determined that with much wisdom came much vexation. Those who have more knowledge have more worry and frustration.

It is true that the more we discover the more we realize there is more to be discovered. Space exploration is a good example of this, as is the medical field. There is a lot we don’t know. But when we do learn something, we realize that we then have more questions than when we started.

Human learning is truly without end. It is, as Solomon observed, like striving after wind. We can’t catch the wind. Nor can we ever reach the point where we completely learn something.

Such a truth clearly points to an infinite God. For only a God who exists and who is not completely knowable could create a universe with so much information and so many questions. This is not a bad thing. The universe was intentionally designed by God as such to point us to Him. The more we realize how much we don’t know, the more we should realize that there was a Creator.

But sadly, too many people want to dismiss such an idea. They convince themselves (and others) that intellectual discoveries eliminate the need for one to believe in God. But science does not disprove God. To be sure, it doesn’t prove Him either. But each new scientific discovery reveals more complexity in the universe making it more difficult to doubt His existence and power.

Not only that, but the more we discover the more we invent. And much of our inventions don’t lead to happiness. Instead, increased knowledge leads to increased sorrow.

It’s hard to argue that the world is a better place now than it was a few decades ago. While we’ve been able to do some good things such as curing and even eradicating diseases, much of our knowledge has been used to destroy.

Man’s increased knowledge has led to such inventions as nuclear bombs, and chemical weapons. It has led to cyber hacking and identify theft. It has made it easier to proliferate child pornography and money-laundering. For all the good man’s increase in knowledge has done, it has also created evil to the point where one could argue the evil outweighs the good.

Arguably, our inventions that are meant to make life better are actually making it worse.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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