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Wisdom Leads To Success

8He who digs a pit will fall into it, and a serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall. 9He who quarries stones is hurt by them, and he who splits logs is endangered by them. 10If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed.
(Ecclesiastes 10:8-10 ESV)

In today’s passage and the ones that follow King Solomon offers up some examples of wisdom that people can use to make their lives easier and better. These examples are given in the form of proverbs.

Like most proverbs, these are not meant to be taken literally. Rather King Solomon uses what were then culturally-relevant illustrations to teach lessons about living a wise life.

Today’s verses identify how we can mitigate danger in our lives and thereby protect ourselves from unnecessary harm. The wise man identifies danger ahead of time and takes necessary precautions.

Obviously the one who digs a pit will need to take precautions so he won’t fall into it himself. In ancient times walls were used as boundary markers between property. But it was common for snakes to hide in these walls (which often didn’t use mortar). Thinking about this ahead of time and protecting oneself is the wise thing to do.

The point here is to think before acting. Don’t just charge ahead in life without considering the possible consequences of your actions. There may be hidden dangers.

Likewise, dangerous jobs such as quarrying stones or splitting logs can endanger and hurt someone. Proper precautions should be taken.

Good preparation will make life easier, safer, and more enjoyable. As the modern-day proverb states: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Thinking things through before we start and having a proper plan will result in more efficient work with less rework. But too many times in life we just charge ahead without proper preparation (how many of us read user manuals?). As a result we experience frustration and delay.

This is why Solomon says if the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength. Today our tools are made from steel and other high quality metals. But in Solomon’s day they were made from iron. During use they would lose their sharpness (e.g. an axe) and would need to be sharpened (e.g. in a forge) in order to work effectively.

But if those tools are not sharpened they will not work properly and more time and effort will have to be expended to achieve results. Not to mention there was increased probability of harming oneself. Obviously, the wise thing to do is to keep one’s tools sharp.

Wisdom is like a sharpened tool. It helps us get through life will less effort and danger and with more success. When we approach life in a wise way – instituting the actions and attitudes that we’ve been reading about in Ecclesiastes – life will go much better for us.

The wise person thinks things through before taking action. He has a plan that accounts for what could go wrong and takes the necessary precautions. Wisdom helps one to succeed.

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



Wisdom Is Easily Undermined

1Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. 2 A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left. 3Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense, and he says to everyone that he is a fool. 4If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place, for calmness will lay great offenses to rest. 5There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as it were an error proceeding from the ruler: 6folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place. 7I have seen slaves on horses, and princes walking on the ground like slaves.
(Ecclesiastes 10:1-7 ESV)

Continuing on from where he left off in chapter nine, King Solomon uses several proverbs in chapter 10 that tell us it doesn’t take much to undo wise plans or to undermine a reputation built on wisdom.

Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench. Flies are small. Yet when they fall into perfume, which is supposed to smell good, they cause it to small bad. Similarly just a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

The most wise plans are easily undermined by folly. And an honorable reputation is quickly erased by foolish behavior.

In ancient times the right and left hands were thought to be good and bad, respectively. This is probably because most people are right-handed. In fact, the Latin word for “left” is “sinister”.

Therefore, proverbially, a wise man inclines to the right – to good things – whereas a fool inclines to the left – to bad things. Notice in both cases that it is a person’s heart – their character – that leads them.

When we are inherently wise we will do and experience good things. Other people will take notice. The opposite is also true. A fool says to everyone that he is a fool. Just by observing his actions people can tell he lacks sense. It isn’t too difficult in life to tell who are the wise and who are the foolish.

One way we can exhibit wisdom is in our dealings with someone (perhaps a ruler – someone in authority) who shows anger against us. The best response is calmness because calmness indicates that such actions are inconsequential and are not worth getting upset over.

Such strength of character will put great offenses to rest much more than reacting to them ever will. It will also limit or prevent such future attacks if our adversary was purposely trying to rile us. Its wisest to just let such things roll off our backs.

In fact, those who demonstrate anger at their subordinates are the ones acting foolishly as folly is often set in high places. Just because someone is a leader doesn’t mean they are wise. There have been plenty of people in high places in history who were stupid and who demonstrated their stupidity by their actions.

There are people who are better suited for being followers (e.g. slaves) who are in leadership positions (e.g. riding on horses). And there are people who are meant to be leaders (e.g. princes) who are not.

We certainly see this in our society when it comes to political appointments. Elected officials often hand out jobs to those who got them elected regardless of their qualifications. We also see people in the entertainment industry (e.g. the Khardasians, Ellen, Oprah) setting the moral tone for the country when they clearly should not be.

This is part of the evil that happens on earth due to sin. It should not surprise us. When we have a society that lives as if there is no God (under the sun) this is what happens.

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


Wisdom Is Better Than Might

16But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard. 17The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. 18Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.
(Ecclesiastes 9:16-18 ESV)

Even though people often fail to recognize the source of sage advice, wisdom is still better than might. This is true even though wisdom is despised and often not heard.

Godly wisdom (which is the type of wisdom Solomon is discussing here) falls on deaf ears. People aren’t interested in hearing what God has to say. They’d rather go with human strength and wisdom. But doing so is precisely the reason why the world is a mess.

Godly wisdom is revealed by God in the inner self, quietly, when we are alone with God in prayer. These insights, which God willingly provides, are the most effective ways to solve problems. They are vastly superior to human wisdom which often contradicts Scripture.

Sadly, most of our cultural leaders – be they political or social – lead with rhetoric and propaganda. Such tactics are nothing more than shouting among fools. Foolish people, who don’t think for themselves, absorb such demagoguery without recognizing it for the ineffective nonsense that it is.

This human wisdom drowns out godly wisdom and as a result poor decisions are made. Then, in a never-ending cycle, we try to solve the problems we have made because of human wisdom with more human wisdom. This can never work. You can dig yourself out of a hole.

One strategy that humans often employ to solve problems is weapons of war. As we’ve seen in the past decade, this may seem like a good idea at the time (at least to those in power) but using military force (e.g. invading Iraq) often creates subsequent, unforeseen problems (e.g. the rise of ISIS). Using wisdom to solve political situations is better.

But wisdom is fragile. As effective as it is, it can be destroyed by one sinner. It is far more difficult to gain wise insight and put it to use than it is to undo all that effort by one foolish act.

Wisdom requires much upfront research. It also requires much subsequent care and management. The need for wisdom does not end with the implementation of a plan of action. Ongoing wisdom is required in order for those results to remain.

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


Wisdom Receives Little Recognition

13I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me. 14 There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. 15But there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man.
(Ecclesiastes 9:13-15 ESV)

Just like the swift may not always win the race, the wise may not always get rewarded. King Solomon explains this through a parable which relates a real-life example he had seen.

In this parable a great king came against a little city that had few men in it. The king built great siegeworks against the city. Considering the city’s small size and military weakness, this seems like overkill. If the king simply wanted to take over the city he could have probably done nothing more than send a threat. But it seems he wanted to throw his weight around.

But in the city there was found a poor, wise man. Notice that he was found. The people had to go looking for wisdom as apparently the city’s rulers did not have any. And they found it in an unlikely place – a poor man.

Poor people back then had little respect of those in power. The were not considered valuable resources. Yet, by this man’s wisdom the city was delivered out of the hand of the invading king.

Wisdom is greater than strength. Our society values strength – either physical or political. But most victories in life come not from controlling others but through diplomacy and relationship acumen.

Besides, strength doesn’t last. As we grow older our physical strength wanes. Over time our influence over others does likewise as newer leaders emerge on the scene. But wisdom not only doesn’t fade, it can increase as we grow older.

Sadly, though, no one remembered the poor man after the siege ended. Someone who should have been remembered as a savior and a hero was forgotten. People don’t value wisdom as much as they do influence, power, and fame.

Wisdom may be better, but it comes with no guarantee of reward – just like we learned yesterday. When we offer godly wisdom to others we may fail to profit from it while they reap its benefits. We should not be surprised or angry at this.

And even though human beings forget God never does. Even though our lives may go unnoticed by others, God knows those who are His [2 Timothy 2:19, Malachi 3:16, Luke 10:20].

Yesterday we read how our lives are certain to be interrupted by unforeseen circumstances. Wisdom teaches us how to deal with them.

Disaster may strike – as it did the city in the parable – but it can be turned into victory through the wisdom of God. True wisdom is following God [Proverbs 3:5-6].

Sadly, the world values other things more than God’s wisdom, including  secular wisdom. They’d rather follow the advice of a person based on their fame, wealth, or personality than follow the advice of the God who knows them and seeks only their good.

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


We Are Subject To The Decisions Of Others

11Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. 12For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.
(Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 ESV)

After having encouraged us to work hard during our lifetime yesterday King Solomon tempers our expectations in today’s passage. One might think that hard work will guarantee results, but that is not necessarily how life works.

The swift do not always win the race. The strong do not always win the battle. Being intelligent does not guarantee riches.

Life is enigmatic. Things don’t happen the way we think they should. We’re all taught that if we want to succeed we have to get a better education and put in more hours at work.

But success often comes to those who don’t do these things. And those who do those things sometimes don’t get the reward they think they should. That is just how life is.

This however should not deter us from attaining knowledge, nor should it make us lazy. God wants us to be wise and to work hard. But we should not believe that just because we do these things we will get the results we dream of. Rather we are subject to time and chance.

We think we are in total control of our lives. But that isn’t really true. Our lives are subject to the decisions, past and present, made by others.

We drive on the right (or left) side of the road because someone long ago decided we should. We pay taxes because someone decreed we must. We learn in school that which others decided we should learn.

We get into a car accident and possibly suffer physical harm because someone else runs a red light. We lose our money because someone else takes risks that don’t pay off.

Just like fish that are happily swimming along one minute and are suddenly and unexpectedly taken in an evil net, so too are our lives. Unpredictable things happen. And they can disrupt, or even end, our lives.

Life is filled with uncertainty. We can make all the contingency plans we can think of but we have no control over future events, notably the evil ones that will affect us detrimentally. They happen suddenly, without warning.

That is how life operates under the sun – in a world without God. We should not expect it to be otherwise. Life will not always, if ever, go the way we plan because we are unaware of the decisions being made by others – decisions that will affect us in some way.

When life is lived without God people’s decisions tend to favor themselves and disrupt the lives of others. Perhaps this is unintentional. Perhaps it is intentional. Regardless, there are many things that happen to us as a result of other people’s decisions. And there is nothing we can do to prevent it.

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


Enjoy Life While You Can

7Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. 8Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head. 9Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
(Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 ESV)

In today’s passage King Solomon states his conclusion about how we are to live in light of the fact that we cannot figure God out and in the end we all die – the righteous and the evil alike. This is the same conclusion he has come to earlier in response to the difficulties of life.

We are to go, eat, drink, enjoy. Life is short. Death is certain. So we are to enjoy the things that life has to offer while we can. And we can do this because God has already approved what we do.

Clearly this verse is speaking to those who believe in and fear God. This is actually quite a remarkable verse because it is a reference to the New Covenant that would not be fully revealed until Jesus came on the scene and died on the cross.

Jesus’ death paid for the sins of those who lived under the New Testament and also those who lived under the Old Testament. The difference being that those who live under the New (those of us living today) look back on what God did at the cross while those who lived under the old looked forward.

In either case, God offered forgiveness and approval to those who had faith in Him. And it is only to those that God gives the ability to enjoy life [Ecclesiastes 2:26].

Note that God does not approve of us doing anything we want. There are pleasures and then there are legitimate pleasures. There is still sin. God is not commanding us to live wantonly.

It is not sinful to take pleasure in what God has given us. In fact, it is sinful not to take pleasure in such things since God commands us to enjoy them.

Notice also that the attitude with which we partake of these things is commanded. We are to do them with joy, with a merry heart, and with love.

This includes enjoying life with our wife (or spouse, since this obviously works both ways). Our spouse is our portion in life, given to us by God so that we can enjoy life. Like the rest of life marriage can be difficult. But our spouse is a gift and we would not be able to enjoy life nearly as much if we went through it alone.

We should also enjoy our work (whatever your hand finds to do). Work is not a curse. Nor is it to be avoided in exchange for living off of others. Work is a blessing. It a gift from God that we can use to make our own life better as well as the lives of others.

To that end we do it with our might. That is how we enjoy it – by taking pride in what we do and knowing that what we do in some way benefits others. We should be thankful that God has given us work to do [Colossians 3:17, 23].

A proper enjoyment of God’s earthly blessings compensates believers for the drudgery and difficulties that are an inevitable part life. We should not forsake the joy God offers us just because life is complicated and impossible to figure out. We should not let the evilness going on around us get us down such that our own lives become miserable.

It is God’s will for us to enjoy life [Philippians 4:4; 1 Timothy 4:4]. Once we are dead (in Sheol) we cannot enjoy the things of this earth any longer. This is our only chance.

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


Our Fate Is Sealed When Our Heart Stops Beating

1But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. 2It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. 3This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 4But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 6Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 9:1-6 ESV)

King Solomon thought deeply (laid to heart) about all he had observed about life, meditating on it (examining it all). He saw how the righteous and the wise are in the hand of God. Nevertheless man does not know who has God’s approval and who has His disapproval (love or hate).

We cannot tell this just from observing life because from a human point of view, things don’t always go the way we’d expect [Ecclesiastes 8:14]. Sometimes the wicked prosper. Sometimes the righteous suffer. Outward experiences are no indication of what is in someone’s heart or their eternal destiny. One’s standing before God cannot be measured by their outward condition.

There is, however, one thing that is the same for all. There is one event that happens to the righteous and the wicked, the good and the evil, etc. That event is we go to the dead. We die.

This seemed unfair to Solomon (is an evil). One would expect that those who are “good” would fair better than those who are “bad”. But when we observe life from an “under the sun” perspective (i.e. without God) everyone ends up in the ground. This is because there is no one who is truly “good”. All of us are sinners [Romans 3:23]. And death is the penalty for sin [Romans 6:23].

Many people conclude that death is just part of life. Not true. Death was not God’s original intent. We were created to be alive, not to be dead. But when sin entered the world, death entered with it [Romans 5:12]. Death came about because of sin.

The only way to conquer death is to conquer sin which is exactly why Jesus came to earth and became sin in our place [2 Corinthians 5:21]. Those who believe in their need for forgiveness and in Jesus’ death as atoning for our sin will experience eternal life (i.e. heaven) [John 3:16]. Mistakenly believing that death is nothing more than the end of life leads to eternal death (i.e. hell).

For this reason those who are joined with the living (i.e. are still alive) have hope. Unfortunately, the word “hope” is entirely misunderstood by most people. It has come to be used as a wish or desire that something unlikely will happen but probably will not. But that is not the true definition of the word.

The dictionary definition of “hope” is “expectation for a certain thing to happen.” There is a certainty about hope. While we are alive we still have the opportunity to know God and to have our sins forgiven. Once we are dead we do not. To illustrate, Solomon uses what was likely a proverb in his day: “a living dog is better than a dead lion.”

To understand this proverb we must understand that in the ancient Middle East dogs were not kept as pets. They ran wild and were despised for being lowly. Lions were (and still are) considered fearless and strong. God is saying it would be better to be lowly and alive than to be revered and dead. Why? One simple reason: once we are dead our opportunity to have our sins forgiven is over.

As a side note, this is a great passage for anyone considering suicide. Life may be tough. You may be living a “lowly” life. But being dead is worse, especially if you have not accepted God’s offer of free forgiveness of sins. As long as you’re breathing you have the possibility that not only will your life on this earth get better but also that your life after this earth will be better too.

The living know they will die. So they still have time to get right with God, if they want to. But no such possibility exists for the dead. They know nothing about what is going on on the earth. They have no more share in all that is done under the sun. All their earthly experiences have perished.

This does not mean that the dead no longer exist. We know from other passages in Scripture that the dead are fully aware of their surroundings, other people, and even their past and their future fate [Matthew 25:46; Luke 16:19-31]. But they cannot interact with the earth.

Once dead the possibility of reward is no more. Our fate is sealed when our heart stops beating. If one had their sins forgiven while alive on this earth they will be in heaven. If they didn’t, they won’t. There is no purgatory. There is no reincarnation. There are no second chances.

Such a truth should motivate us to live wisely on this earth. Rather than living for temporary sensational pleasures we should take life seriously, recognizing the importance of the decisions we make – notably our decision about whether to believe in Jesus or not. The fact that we will die yet live should greatly affect the way we live while alive.

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


We Must First Understand That We Cannot Understand

16When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one’s eyes see sleep, 17then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.
(Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 ESV)

King Solomon applied his heart to know wisdom. The ancients thought the heart was where the mind resided. So King Solomon is telling us here that he took a sincere, intellectual approach to acquiring wisdom.

He also sought to see the business that is done on earth and how somewhere on earth there is always someone who is awake – life is always happening on this planet. He aimed to understand all we do and why we do it.

Such discovery is encouraged by God who wants us to pursue knowledge and understanding [Proverbs 15:14, 18:15; Ephesians 1:17; James 1:5 et. al]. God never advocates ignorance or misunderstanding.

King Solomon took all he learned about wisdom and work and then compared it to all the work of God. His conclusion: we cannot find out the work that God is doing on earth (under the sun).

There is much we can understand. But there is even more that we cannot – notably how God works. None of us can understand God’s ways.

Just like little children are bewildered and confused. They cannot understand the adult world even if someone were to explain it to them. Neither can any human being – who is a child in God’s sight – understand Him. His thoughts are much higher than ours [Isaiah 55:9; Romans 11:33; 1 Corinthians 20, 25].

No matter how much effort we put into trying to understand God, we will not find it out. We cannot.

No matter how wise a man might be, if he claims to fully understand God he is mistaken. Life is too complicated and interwoven for any of us to figure it out.

As such we should stop our striving to understand and rest in knowing that God knows what He is doing. The godless search for answers to every question. They believe that with enough effort they can acquire enough wisdom to solve their problems. That is not true.

As we’ve already learned in our study of Ecclesiastes, the acquisition of wisdom just creates greater ignorance. When we answer one question we discover more questions that need to be answered. This happens with scientific discoveries all the time.

The godly, on the other hand, live without needing to get answers. They understand that they cannot understand everything. So they live in a quiet confidence. They trust God the way a child trusts her parents.

The book of Ecclesiastes was written during Old Testament times, some 600 years before Jesus. It plants the seed for a savior by warning people that human wisdom is vanity. While sometimes beneficial for life on earth it has no eternal value.

It is this realization that leads people to Jesus. No one will turn to Jesus for salvation until and unless they recognize their own inability to save themselves.

God wants us to stop trying to figure this life out. He just wants us to humble ourselves and submit to Him. He, our spiritual Father, knows everything. We, in comparison, know nothing. He can, and will, take care of us.

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


Choose To Be Filled With Joy

15And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 8:15 ESV)

After opining on the meaninglessness, trouble, and injustices of life, King Solomon has some advice for us in today’s passage. He commends joy. The word “commend” means “to present or suggest; to recommend”. The response King Solomon gives to all that goes on around us is to be joyful.

There is nothing better for man to do on earth (under the sunbut to eat and drink and be joyful. This advice is not meant to be anesthetic that makes us numb to the harsh realities of life. We are not to stick our head in the sand and ignore the injustice, poverty, and pain that exists in our world. That is not what God is saying here.

But rather, in spite of all this we are to be joyful, knowing that God is in control of this world and, as Solomon has pointed out more than once, those who do evil will not get away with it in eternity [Ecclesiastes 8:13, Proverbs 11:21]. Things may be tough now for us and for others. But it will not always be that way.

There are a lot of bad things in this world. But worrying about them won’t change them. Nor will it bring us any joy. It’s not our job to worry and fret. It is God’s job to manage the world. When we worry and fret over what is going on on this planet we are usurping God’s responsibilities. We are in essence saying that God is unwilling and/or unable to deal with them.

Enjoyment does not come from happy, pleasant circumstances, where everything is going the way we like it. Enjoyment is a gift of God which and can exist even in the most difficult and trying circumstances

We can’t change the past. We don’t know what the future holds. All we can do is live in the present. And we can choose to live in the present while trusting God to take care of us – even using negative experiences to shape us and grow us.

There are a couple of reasons why we should choose joy. First, God wants us to be joyful and commands us to be so [1 Thessalonians 5:16]. But second, joy will go with us in all our toil through the days of our life. When we chose joy over misery we make the rest of our lives easier and more pleasant.

Considering all that life throws at us – much of it not good – why make it worse by letting it all make us miserable? Instead we should enjoy the good things life has to offer. For sure there are difficulties in life. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy being alive. Despite those things we don’t have to be distressed.

We should enjoy our favorite foods. We should enjoy playing or watching sports. We should enjoy music and whatever else bring us pleasure. We should enjoy our spouses and kids.

Life is a gift from God. And He commands us to make the most of it.

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


Reflecting On Our Past Mistakes Can Make Us Wise

23All this I have tested by wisdom. I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. 24That which has been is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out? 25I turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness that is madness. 26And I find something more bitter than death: the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her.
(Ecclesiastes 7:23-26 ESV)

King Solomon tested all approaches to life by applying wisdom. Solomon intentionally sought to be wise. But he could not be as wise as he wanted and he admits so. Few people are willing to admit that they are not as smart as they should be or want to be. Rather we pretend to be something we are not. This is just another example of the honestly of the authors of the Bible.

Solomon tried to test out all that he has been talking about using wisdom, but had to admit that he could not fully find the truth. True wisdom is far off and deep, very deep. It was beyond King Solomon just as it is beyond all of us. No human can find it out.

King Solomon turned his heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom. He made up his mind he was going to do it. He gave it his best shot. But as he’s told us, he fell short. Human effort is not enough to discover the truths that God has embedded into our existence.

But Solomon also sought to know sin – the wickedness of folly and foolishness. A doctor cannot prescribe a cure for a disease unless he understands it cause. Solomon had lead a pretty sinful life and now, as he writes this as a penitent old man, he ostensibly wishes to understand the reasons for his actions.

In his pursuit of all this he found something more bitter than death. Death was, and still is, considered by many the worst thing that can happen to a person. But Solomon discovered something even worse: sin.

In the verse 26 Solomon metaphorically refers to sin as a woman and her sexual advances. It is possible Solomon is referring specifically to sexual sin here. He did, after all, live a very lascivious life and was caught in the snares, nets, and fetters of his many wives and concubines [1 Kings 11:4]. Since the book of Ecclesiastes is the journal of his findings about life, it’s not unlikely the lessons he recorded came from his own experiences.

It is also possible he is referring to sin in general. Either way, his conclusion is the same: sin is worse than death The one who pleases God escapes it.

The one who pleases God is the one who has faith in Him, is spiritually-minded, who fears displeasing Him, who obeys Him, and who does His will [1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 147:11; Romans 8:8; Hebrews 11:6, 13:21]. Such a person will escape sin because his mind is set to do good and he will not fall for sin’s allure. His commitment to God will prevent him from being led astray.

But the sinner who is not committed to pleasing God is taken in by sinful temptations, of which there is no shortage. This is how King Solomon lived during his youth. Yet as he got older he learned the truth: such a life is foolishness.

Solomon realized that he couldn’t attain all wisdom. But he also realized that he could gain some wisdom by reflecting on the mistakes he made in his past. We all can learn similarly.

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


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