Does wisdom have the advantage over folly ? (Ecc. 10)

Publié le 11 octobre 2020 dans Non classé

Book reminder
We are still studying this book probably written by King Solomon. It is like the logbook of a man in search of the meaning of life.
Moreover, what makes his originality is that instead of starting his reflection on the basis that God exists, the author takes the opposite path by putting himself in the shoes of someone who only relies on his own intelligence.
It is important to understand that his observations concern life under the sun, life on earth.
He tries, he observes, he experiments, he pushes logic to the end of things, in order to understand what is the meaning of life.
This is why this man is ultimately not so distant from the man of today in his reflections and his questions about life.
I asked my Facebook friends to share their summary of the book with me and what bothered or encouraged them.
Here are some of their responses:

For my aunt Mona: « Life is vanity and pursuit of the wind. »
For my brother Olivier: « A book that puts you on hold, which asks you the question: but what is the meaning? »

For a friend of my sister: “Life may seem absurd and useless to you, you will never understand everything, so be happy when you can be and acknowledge God in all your ways.”

For Marion Poujol, GBU team member: « Everything is in vain except the happiness that God offers you and the work of God.» She adds “It’s disturbing because it highlights the vanity of life. It is encouraging because what God is doing is not in vain! ”

Franck Godin, pastor in the church of Les 2 Rives, shares with us that this book has encouraged him by taking a fair look at our life, made up of good and bad times, but which all pass. It kept him from being crushed in hardship and falling into idolatry and addiction to the best things in this life. And for the record: this is the book that convinced him of the truth of the Bible.

I found the views of these different people on reading the book interesting:

Ecclesiastes 10: 1-15: Observations concerning wisdom and folly
v1 “Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. « 
Have you ever designed something that took a long time to prepare, that is useful and that you are proud of? And then someone walks by and sabotages your work in an instant …
It sometimes happened that after my wife had prepared a nice meal, I would go into the kitchen and add some salt to it, not asking her if she had it already. The dish was then hardly edible and my wife not very happy.
But the theme of the verse here is not my wife’s good cooking spoiled by her husband’s sudden passing with a salt shaker in hand.

It is about wisdom, which is exemplified by the oil of the perfumer.
The perfumer’s oil is
• Precious
• Expensive
• It took a long time to make it
• It smells good
• It is the source of thoughtful work
And the second theme evoked is folly, which is illustrated by dead flies:
• So small, almost insignificant
• Uncontrollable, you surely have tried to kill a fly, it is usually a difficult exercise, which only the more athletic and responsive of us can happily do.
• Flies are generally notorious for being dirty.
• And these famous flies have the power to reduce the work of the perfumer to nothing.
Let us remember that wisdom under the sun is fragile, and folly can spoil a wonderful project: “Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. « 
I think we all agree that we do not want to be one of those dead flies.

“A wise man’s heart inclines him tot the right, but a fool’s heart to the left. Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense, and he says to everyone that he is a fool! ” (v2-3)

What is described here is one of the big problems of the fool. His big problem is that he thinks he is wise.

He may be the only one driving the wrong way on the highway, he will not assume the problem is his, because he will judge everyone else to be crazy, when they are in the right direction.

The fool sees the reality of things wrongly. He does not know how to distinguish right from wrong.
It is written in Isaiah 5:20:
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who put darkness for light, and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet, and sweet into bitter! »
Another translation of verse 2 tells us: The spirit of the wise works well, but the fool understands everything wrong.

Another observation that Ecclesiastes shares with us, followed by advice this time, I read to you:

“If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place; for calmness will lay great offenses to rest. ” (v4)

Often our reflex when faced with someone who gets angry with us is to get angry too, or at least to boil inside. Here Solomon offers us something new: stay quietly at your post.

He suggests this difficult attitude to us to avoid “great offenses” the text tells us.

I do not know what you think about it, but this attitude seems so impossible to me! And who to set an example for us?

And I remembered how Jesus reacted to the leaders who put him to death by crucifying him.

I read for you in the Gospel of Luke 23 v.34

“When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do. ”

Jesus is dying on the cross, and even then he finds the strength and the heart to pray to his Father that those who laughed at him and had him nailed to the cross will be forgiven.

What an example of wisdom we have in him !

In verses 5-7, Ecclesiastes warns those who think that folly is only reserved for some social classes.

« There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as it were an error proceeding from the ruler: folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place. I have seen slaves on horses, and princes walking on the ground like slaves. »(v5-7)

It might not be a scoop for you, but he sees that the folly reaches the highest ranks as well.

Then in v8 and 9, it warns us of the risks of work that is poorly thought through:

He who digs a pit will fall into it,

and a serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall.

He who quarries stones is hurt by them,

and he who splits logs is endangered by them.

I continue reading v10 and 11:
If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge,
he must use more strength,
but wisdom helps one to succeed.
If the serpent bites before it is charmed,
there is no advantage to the charmer.

Verse 10 means that before we get down to work, preparing our tools is a proof of wisdom and will save us from unnecessary effort.

Illustration # 1: when I have to make videos, I think about charging the different batteries of my camera, I have to think in advance about some cool shots that could be shot on location, make sure I have space on my memory card …

Verse 11 warns us about laziness in the face of danger. It is not enough to have a skill, it is also necessary to act facing risk!

Illustration # 2a: If I am lucky enough to have an umbrella in my hand when it rains, but I don’t bother to open it, what’s the benefit to me?

Illustration # 2b: In the same way too, we have different gifts, each other in the church, we have different resources that God gives us to help each other, but if we don’t use them, what is the use of owning them?

So there are two notions in these verses:

-Take the time to prepare before taking action

-Take the trouble to act with the resources we have

The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor,
but the lips of a fool consume him.
The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness,
and the end of his talk is evil madness.
A fool multiplies words,
though no man knows what is to be,
and who can tell him what will be after him?
The toil of a fool wearies him,
for he does not know the way to the city. (v.12-15)

Here, what brings the folly to light, what will unmask the fool, is the inconsistency of his words. He multiplies the words but… he does not know much deep down.

Question: Is it better to speak to say nothing or not to speak?

“Even a fool, who keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. ” Proverb 17:28

But that doesn’t mean to be silent, otherwise you might think that reading this I would at least have pretended to be wise by being silent for 30 minutes in front of you.

There is a time for everything, as Samuel Niblack reminded us last week, sometimes it is better to be silent, but sometimes the Lord encourages you to speak. We are called to edify one another and our words will be used to correct, to encourage, to teach, to praise… but at all times, may your word then be full of grace.

II. Ecclesiastes 10: 16-17: Consequences of wisdom and folly

Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,

and your princes feast in the morning!

Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of the nobility,

and your princes feast at the proper time,

for strength, and not for adrunkenness!(v16-17)

Here, the author describes two very different kinds of governments and associates a curse with one and a blessing with the other.

“Woe to you, a land whose king is a child, and whose princes eat in the morning!”

This is a government that fixes the problem of its stomach rather than the problems of its people.

« Blessed are you, a country whose king is of illustrious race, and whose princes eat in due season, to sustain their strength, and not to drink! »

The government described here contrasts with the previous one, it seems more concerned with staying sober, so they can honor their responsibilities.

The illustrious pedigree king contrasts with the king who is a child. Here the word « child » takes on a pejorative meaning, of course, to mark his lack of experience and his incompetence in running a country.

It is obvious that with such a government, the country runs great risks, the security of the people is uncertain.

Which brings us to the last part:
III. Ecclesiastes 10: 18-20: The time of choice
v18-19 Through sloth the roof sinks in,
and through indolence the house leaks.
Bread is made for laughter,
and wine gladdens life,
and money answers everything.

In this observation of verses 18 and 19 we see that the mismanagement of the country caused by the laziness and gluttonous spirit of the leaders leads to ruin, which does not prevent the governors from using their remaining wealth again to indulge in party and wine. Why not show it off and get your stomach full by multiplying the receptions, for example? We will forget for a while all the problems caused by our incompetence.

It’s the easy choice!

The second choice, that of wisdom, is found in the last verse of chapter 10:

« Even in your thoughts, ddo not curse the king,

nor in your ebedroom curse the rich,

for a bird of the air will carry your voice,

or some winged creature tell the matter. »

Despite what is sometimes done under the sun, all the evil that you can imagine or see, the mismanagement of the country by some leaders … the advice is clear: we are called to be careful about what we say, because everything will be highlighted.

This is the author’s precious advice, a mark of wisdom despite the madness that surrounds us: flee backbiting, do not fall into senseless gossip. Let us not multiply the words like fools.

However, in front of all these inconsistencies, one may wonder: does wisdom really make sense?

It is legitimate to ask the question. If the wise man is not spared more than the fool, why desire to be wise?

And why doesn’t the madness affecting the rulers and the rich make them fall faster?

Basically, the question we ask ourselves by deploring this gloomy observation: does wisdom really have the advantage over madness?

The Ecclesiastes himself, in the course of his reflection, seems disturbed around the notion of wisdom: he says that wisdom has the advantage over folly, but he also says that the wise and the fool have the same fate, he’s talking about death here in chapter 2 verse 13.

So what is the benefit of wisdom? Is this an option given only to some Christians who want it?

I don’t think so, wisdom is rather a consequence of where we have placed our hope. The man who strives to be wise despite a context of madness under the sun, testifies that he has placed his hope elsewhere than in his life under the sun. Man proves by his wisdom that he believes and hopes in a God who gives meaning to his whole life under the sun.

1 Peter 1:15

« but kas he who called you is holy, you also be holy lin all your conduct, »

We could use the same logic for wisdom, God is wise, so since we are children of God, let us also learn how good it is for us to be wise. It is for our good and the good of our loved ones to be wise!

Let’s read how James encourages us to ask God for wisdom. I read in James 1: 5:

« If any of you lacks wisdom, klet him ask God, lwho gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. »

But in the face of all these inconsistencies and injustices, there is a second thought that can open up to us and we may not even think about it.

The question I ask myself: who is going to judge all this crazy behavior happening under the sun?

It is the question of the final judgment of everything.

Who will be wise enough to be an upright judge in every way?

And this question helps us to find an answer in the One who was perfectly wise, the one who embodied to remain calm in the face of his accusers: Jesus Christ.

This righteousness the Christian is called to desire and to seek from his Savior, for it is he who judges with perfect wisdom

It is not for me to judge the way of life of my neighbor. It is not for me to judge the authorities in my country. As a Christian, the Bible calls me to pray for authorities, so that I can live faith in Christ peacefully.

The Christian is invited to look beyond the sun, where Christ is both our judge and our redeemer. Redeemer, this means that Christ redeems us: we deserved death because of our faults, but Jesus comes to pay the price in his death, and frees us from the wrath of God.

The apostle Paul tells us in Romans (6:23): “For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. ”
Neither wisdom under the sun nor money under the sun can truly save us from the dangers of life.

Only the Lord, in His wisdom, can protect us. He knows the number of days of our life under the sun, but also he will know how to bring us back to life with Jesus Christ, by his resurrection from the dead. And Miriam and David’s baptism this morning symbolizes their willingness to follow Jesus in this new life, in this resurrection life. Dead to their old nature, and now living by Christ and for Christ.

Only Jesus Christ, who is perfectly wise, can also help us to become wise.
To fully understand what Ecclesiastes said: there is this expression “under the sun” which voluntarily contrasts with the Christian hope, which is to come “in heaven”.