Every one of us would like to know what the future holds. But no matter how much experience we gain or how much wisdom we possess, the future is still going to be a big unknown. For Christians “the future” is always and forever a matter of faith in God and yielding to his providence.
How, then, can wisdom be put to good use. Solomon gives us three useful purposes of Wisdom in Ecclesiastes chapter 7.
The first purpose of wisdom is to make life better.
- Why is a good name better than perfume?
Warren Wiersbe: every person is born with three names. A name the family gives you, the name others call you, and the one you acquire for yourself. At birth you have no reputation. After you die your reputation defines you.
- Why is the day of death better than the day of birth?
At birth we are propelled into a transient existence “under the sun.” Death propels us into eternity (Paul said “to die is gain” Phil 1:21, 23)
- Why is attending a funeral better than attending a party?
Eaton said, “Every funeral anticipates our own.” Funerals remind us of our mortality. Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
- Is frustration better than laughter?
A fool doesn’t learn from the lessons of life. A wise person when they face death, disease and destruction learns from it and they become better not bitter. (Dr. Jeremiah)
- Is rebuke better than praise?
Being flattered by worthless praise is like feeding crackling thorns to a fire. There is a burst of heat and bright flame but no lasting value. “Rebukes are really compliments turned inside out, designed to mold and mature us in wonderful ways.” Dr. Jeremiah (Proverbs 10:17; 12:1; 15:5; 17:10; 25:12)
- What’s wrong with shortcuts?
A bribe is a shortcut. Consider Satan tempting Christ in the wilderness. You want food—make these stones bread; you want fame—leap from this temple; you want followers—just bow to me. Bribery corrupts the heart.
- Is the end really better than the beginning?
Steven Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.” We need to visualize the goal and choose our steps to get there. The patience of a wise man is much better than the pride and anger of a fool.
- Don’t long for the “good old days”
It is said that the “good old days” are a combination of a bad (selective) memory and a good imagination. Victorian essayist Hildaire Belloc: “While you are dreaming of the future or regretting the past, the present, which is all you have, slips from you and is gone.”
The second benefit of wisdom is enabling us to see life more clearly
Maturity is the ability to put life in perspective. Wisdom leads to maturity (Wiersbe)
Wealth – without wisdom an inheritance flounders. With wisdom, an inheritance likely flourishes
Providence – (Consider what God has done) Yielding to the will of God accomplishes more than fighting him every step of the way
Adversity and prosperity – with wisdom we can differentiate between mountain top experiences and spiritual valleys (we can see the sun). With wisdom we can battle adversity and keep from being discouraged (Job 2:10)
Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New Testament.” Francis Bacon.
The future – No matter how much experience we have gained as we walk through life we must still walk by faith. (Wiersbe). In Daniel 12:8-9, He asked, “What shall be the outcome of these things?” The angel told Daniel to go his way.
Verses 15-24 are very difficult to commentate on their meaning and hard to understand.
Wicked prosper while continuing their wickedness, the righteous seem to be robbed of both blessing and long life. Dr. Jeremiah offers this comment, ”God is both loving and powerful, but He allows the rewards to be reversed—success for evil, suffering for the good—for reasons relating to his eternal plan, and because it is the consequence of a fallen world in which we ourselves have invited such chaos.”
Don’t be overly righteous, overly wise or overly wicked and foolish?
Solomon is not advocating middle of the road spirituality. Being “sorta” holy is a sure path to hell. It’s a warning about being self-righteous and exalting yourself before others.
The third and final purpose of wisdom found in Ecclesiastes chapter 7 is being able to face life stronger
Seek wisdom, not perfection. We are flawed creatures, our nature is to sin. Fearing God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10); fear of the Lord leads to life. (Proverbs 19:23)
Don’t listen to the gossip said about you. If it’s not constructive, it is not worth your time. Trying to shape your life solely from what people are saying about you is not wisdom. “If we get upset when people talk about us, we are holding them to a higher standard than we hold ourselves to.” Dr. David Jeremiah
Solomon admits he lacks wisdom in areas of life’s inequalities and that death is inevitable. Ultimate wisdom does not lie in the land of the living (Job 28:13).
The woman whose heart is snares and nets is a seductress (opposite of a loving wife). Solomon’s harem could have totaled 1,000 women. These are the women who served foreign gods, daughters of foreign kings who were often priestesses of pagan religions. Contrast this with what Solomon said about godly women (Proverbs 1:20-33)
Not one upright woman among them all (his harem?). As one commentator put it, what godly woman would place herself willingly in the midst of Solomon’s harem?
We were made upright (to walk in God’s light of truth) yet we continually scheme and pervert God’s ways
Phillip Ryken sums up all of Ecclesiastes this way, “Wise people will say all of the things that Ecclesiastes says. They will tell us that living for pleasure and working for selfish gain are striving after the wind. They will tell us that God has a time for everything, including a time to be born and a time to die. They will tell us that two are better than one at facing all of the toils and trials of life. They will tell us that because God is in heaven and we are on earth, we should be careful what we say. They will tell us that money will never satisfy our souls. In Short, they will teach us not to live for today, but to live for eternity.”