Wisdom Does Not Mean Always Making the Correct Decision

July 23, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Wisdom Does Not Mean Always Making the Correct Decision

LiliesApart from Jesus, Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, yet compared to the lilies of the field, not even Solomon “in all his splendor was dressed like one of these,” (Matthew 6:29b). That’s really saying something when you stop to consider it. It speaks of God’s Creation and His adornment.

We just began studying the book of Ecclesiastes in our Sunday School class. Last week, we went over the first two chapters. What is very interesting is that Solomon – in spite of his tremendous wisdom – found himself feeling that life itself was vanity. The term vanity really means “absolutely futile.”

That’s an interesting outlook from someone who supposedly knew God, at least to some degree, and had prayed that God would grant him extra wisdom in order to make the right decisions.

Yet, in spite of Solomon’s wisdom, he did not always make the correct decisions. He wasn’t supposed to gather material possessions to himself, yet he had many beautiful horses. He also many wives and because these wives were not necessarily Israelites, they tended to divide his loyalties and he began to compromise his beliefs and commitment to God. He allowed high places to be set up to foreign gods, the gods that many of his wives worshiped.

We know that knowledge is the acquiring of information or learning. Wisdom is knowing how to apply that knowledge. Knowledge helps someone to understand that electricity runs through a light socket. Wisdom tells the person not to put their finger in that light socket. Better use of wisdom causes a person to put a light bulb in that light socket so that the light it gives off is beneficial to those around.

But just having wisdom is no guarantee that a person will be better off and I believe the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes proves this point. There, we read that after Solomon had come to the point of seeing that life was filled with vanity, he decides to go on a bit of a quest. He wanted to see for himself what value – if any – he could find in many of the things that most people in this world partake in at some point.

In spite of Solomon’s tremendous wealth and power, along with his unattainable wisdom, he felt there was something missing and goes about trying to find it. He starts by laughing (chapter 1, v. 2). He tries to find humor in everything. We’re not simply talking about those times when things are genuinely funny. Solomon had decided to immerse himself into laughter as a reaction to life. In the end, he thought it made a person appear insane. Laughter has its moments, but life is serious.

Next, Solomon decided to pursue pleasure. He realized it brings a smile for a moment, then it fades, leaving a person vaguely empty and needing another fix of pleasure. Unfortunately, pleasure has no ability to satisfy over the long haul.

In verse 3, Solomon takes up the practice of drinking wine. Again, he doesn’t just dabble in it, but fully engrosses himself in drinking wine. For most people, wine is a depressant and actually stops certain brain functions. Over time, it can kill brain cells, which do not rejuvenate. We’re not talking about having a bit of wine here or a bit of wine there. We’re talking about drinking wine non-stop.

Solomon had become his own guinea pig. He was not content to study other people. He wanted to know for himself how he reacted to various stimuli so this is why he experimented on himself.

He leaves wine behind and moves onto folly. This is an interesting area. Think of people who live on the edge, who gain excitement and meaning from life by brushing up against death. They do not want to die at all, but there is something in them that feels the need to cheat death in order to fully appreciate life. Solomon tried this and even here, he was left empty. Think of the thing that scares you the most and then think of yourself doing that in order to reach some type of high.

After all of this, Solomon finally begins to realize that without a relationship with God, none of the things in life really amount to anything. No matter how exciting life might be, without God, it is meaningless.

If we stop and consider it, Solomon winds up proving that both the fool and the wise man – in and of themselves – are really in the same boat. Wisdom – properly used and understood – can only bring us to a point of realizing that God is needed. For the fool, this never happens. In that way, wisdom is certainly better, but wisdom in and of itself is absolutely no guarantee. Even though wisdom can point us in the right direction, it still has its limitations. Ultimately, the same fate awaits both the fool and the wise man. By itself, the most wisdom can offer is a longer life.

Verse 24 of chapter 2 shows us that Solomon has learned a number of things. He has primarily learned that an obsessive pursuit of the good things in life should be avoided. At the same time, we should find ways to enjoy life because life itself is a gift from God.

However, the ability to enjoy life and the blessings we have from God’s hand do not constitute the meaning of life. Without God, no one can truly enjoy life and gain joy from the human experience. We are not designed this way.

In the last few verses of chapter 2 of Ecclesiastes, Solomon comes to the conclusion that only those who enjoy a faith-relationship with God and who lean on Him have the capacity to truly enjoy life to the maximum.

Solomon understood that God is a God of grace. What Solomon learned boils down to two choices. We either pursue God or by default, we pursue Self.

I look around at the angst in the world, the hatred, the bigotry, the paranoia, the corruption, and I cannot help but think that one day all of it will be gone. Yet, in the interim, too many people are chasing things that have no eternal value. It is because they are chasing things that tend to please Self. We all fall prey to it. Wisdom helps to understand when that is happening so that we can decide to walk away from it.

Entry filed under: israel, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , .

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