11 ¶ Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun. 12 For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it. 13 Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? 14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him. 15 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness. 16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? 17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? 18 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all. 19 Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city. 20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. 21 Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: 22 For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.
Matthew Henry noted that an inheritance without wisdom is good for little. A fool who inherits a fortune will lose it soon. Wisdom will keep the poor man and the rich man on an even keel. Christ is the Christian’s wisdom. Read 1Corinthians 1:17-31. This wisdom gives glory to God, not to man. There are many in this country that hold to the philosophy of Christianity but deny its power, belief in the resurrection of Christ for salvation. They have been brainwashed to deny the supernatural power of God and to exalt man. They are fools.
We must be grateful in the good times and understand in the bad times that God has His hand in that, as well. Solomon has seen good men die too young and wicked men live long lives of abundance. He warns not to be self-righteous in the extreme. Denying yourself necessary food and clothing, trying to appear spiritual, and putting on a show are not pleasing to God. The self-mortifying monk and the fundamentalist Christian who tries to show how close they are to God by making themselves suffer unnecessarily would fall into this although I wouldn’t go so far as the famed revival preacher, Charles G. Finney, who insisted that if you don’t eat right, sleep right, and exercise you have a seared conscience. (4)
Solomon warns about living a life of sin and not being wise in your lifestyle as being one sure way to shorten your life. I think of people who live lives of excess in food and drink and die young, of those who care nothing for their health and wonder why God has allowed some terrible disease to consume them, and those who flaunt God’s commandments about sexual morality and then cry about their impending demise due to AIDS or some other cruel disease.
The man or woman who fears God will be in the best condition of all. Wisdom is more certain to strengthen you than mighty warriors will help a city. We need to live our lives prudently and thoughtfully, fearing God. There is no one that doesn’t sin, and Solomon has said this elsewhere in a public prayer he made.
2Chronicles 6:36 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near;
Solomon goes on to say, almost as an afterthought, that it isn’t good to pay too much attention to what is said about you or worry about it. After all, you have said things about other people and you know that is true. This isn’t then about how other people see you but about your attitude.
So, in this passage Solomon suggests a balanced life, one lived prudently, with wisdom, not making a show of spirituality or falling into a life of carnality. He draws a fine line between the pious holy-roller with the Bible tucked under his arm and his nose held high in the air camped out on the church steps and the carnal man seeking to prove what a reprobate he can be by drinking in the world’s fleeting pleasures.
People who identify themselves by their sinful lifestyles as in, “I will,” will rarely come to Christ and, “shall not,” receive the Kingdom of God as they do the things listed in the following continually, as the identification of who they are. You’ve heard some carnal person call themselves, “a player,” on television referring to their lack of sexual restraint or a person bragging about how important partying is to them?
Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God….
While on the other side of that divide no Christian is called to bigotry, prejudice, paranoia, or a hateful, mean spirit but the following which is listed in direct opposition to the works of the flesh;
…22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
So, ask yourself, how would the wisdom that is of Christ want you to identify yourself as a Christian? For the believer in Christ the antidote to carnality is not a self-righteous stuck-up attitude of being holier-than-thou but humility before God displaying the fruit of the Spirit. This is our prudence, our wisdom.
(4) Charles G. Finney, “A Seared Conscience,” SermonIndex.net, http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=36339 (accessed 12.9.2014)
23 ¶ All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. 24 That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out? 25 I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness: 26 And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her. 27 Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account: 28 Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. 29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.
Solomon, unlike many leaders and common people, set wisdom up for himself as a mark, a goal to be obtained, a thing of value. But, he admits that it was beyond him. He tried to understand sin, wickedness, and even madness. He contemplated, who can understand wisdom? He lamented on how he had been deceived by women and we know from the Bible that he married many women and had many concubines who turned his heart away from the true worship of God. Many of these marriages were probably for political purposes, to ensure peace between Israel and other countries but you can rest assured there was no peace in them for Solomon.
1Kings 11: 1 ¶ But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; 2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.
As a result of this carnal policy of Solomon’s, he, while admitting that one good man out of a thousand was the best he could come up with, he had yet to find a woman who filled that bill. Considering the idolatry he exposed himself to and the number of princesses he wed and concubines he kept one can easily understand why he could come to such a cynical conclusion. Ecclesiastes, then, while teaching us, becomes Solomon’s own personal indictment of his life.
This is a good lesson for us. While God can give us wisdom and understanding, how we use it is a function of our own heart. Don’t blame the person who gave you the hammer because you chose to break a window with it rather than drive a nail.
God gave man His law and His standard of righteousness but mankind had his own ideas, inventions, works that went against what God had laid down for him.
Psalm 106:29 Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them…39 Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions.