Thursday, October 6, 2011

Subversive Wisdom

Our lessons are moving from Solomon's wisdom literature teaching as reflected in the book of Proverbs to his wisdom teaching in the book of Ecclesiastes. The book of Ecclesiastes is truly subversive - overturning from the foundation what had been taken for granted by the religious leaders. Solomon had not abandoned his teaching that it is better to be wise than a fool (Eccl. 2:13), but he felt the need to explain its superiority. Our lesson today focuses on Ecclesiastes 9:13-18.

Solomon begins this passage with a parable. 'This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me: There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.' Eccl. 9:13-15 A powerful king, and his artilleries, surrounded a little city that had few men. He did not believe he would have any problems in the war. It had the appearance of a quick take-over as the little city was poorly defended. As the great king was preparing for battle, the poor wise man who lived in the little city was consulted. The men of the little city obviously knew the poor wise man's plan was a good plan because they used it. Did they pay him? Probably not. Did they thank him? Probably not. But he saved the little city. He did it because he loved his little city. At that moment he may have been considered a hero, but he was soon forgotten. Solomon considered this '...great...' vs 13 because the poor wise man performed this act of wisdom for others, to save the city, at no advantage to himself.

'Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength:, nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.' Eccl. 9:16 Solomon concludes his parable by stating that wisdom is better than strength. It is not often that our leaders argue that they are going to outwit the enemy. They are never seen or heard as having requested wisdom from God. It grieved Solomon that though wisdom is better than power, the poor wise man's advice was later despised. No one paid attention to him any longer. Perhaps societal views on beauty, strenth, economy, or age will cause you to fail to see the superiority of wisdom.

'The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry, of him that ruleth among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons, of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.' Eccl. 9:17,18 Wisdom will not shout to overcome the noise of life. In spite of the ingratitude of the people in the little city, the words of the wise spoken quietly, are worth more than the shouts of the powerful ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than all weapons of warfare, either defensively or offensively, for it brings God to the forefront to fight the battle. One sinner, if allowed, would be able to destroy much good. Solomon proposed that we look at wisdom as a weapon of mass instruction, in that it is more potent than weapons of war. If a nation's ruler has wisdom, then he or she can use the weapons it possesses in a strategic way. When a nation relies upon wisdom, there will not be ill-advised wars and unnecessary conflicts between nations.

Have you sought God for wisdom, to be able to make the right choices in life? There are no strings attached to obtaining wisdom; i.e. riches, beauty, age, etc. Simply pray for it.

Written by Deborah C. Davis

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