Summary: In today's less, we are urged to use wisdom, especially in the political arena, to navigate our way through life.
In his quest to find out how to live a meaningful life the writer of Ecclesiastes urges his readers to use wisdom, especially in the political arena, to navigate their way through life.
Let us read Ecclesiastes 9:13-10:20:
13 I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me. 14 There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. 15 But there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16 But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard.
17 The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. 18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.
10:1 Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench;
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
2 A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right,
but a fool’s heart to the left.
3 Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense,
and he says to everyone that he is a fool.
4 If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place,
for calmness will lay great offenses to rest.
5 There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as it were an error proceeding from the ruler: 6 folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place. 7 I have seen slaves on horses, and princes walking on the ground like slaves.
8 He who digs a pit will fall into it,
and a serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall.
9 He who quarries stones is hurt by them,
and he who splits logs is endangered by them.
10 If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge,
he must use more strength,
but wisdom helps one to succeed.
11 If the serpent bites before it is charmed,
there is no advantage to the charmer.
12 The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor,
but the lips of a fool consume him.
13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness,
and the end of his talk is evil madness.
14 A fool multiplies words,
though no man knows what is to be,
and who can tell him what will be after him?
15 The toil of a fool wearies him,
for he does not know the way to the city.
16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
and your princes feast in the morning!
17 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 drunkenness!
18 Through sloth the roof sinks in,
and through indolence the house leaks.
19 Bread is made for laughter,
and wine gladdens life,
and money answers everything.
20 Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king,
nor in your bedroom curse the rich,
for a bird of the air will carry your voice,
or some winged creature tell the matter. (Ecclesiastes 9:13–10:20)
Senator John Edwards was a rising star in the political world just a few years ago. With uncommon good looks, an uncanny political ability, and an American dream story, he seemed destined to be the future President of the United States of America. In fact, he was Senator John Kerry’s running mate in 2004 when they lost to the Bush-Cheney ticket. Senator Edwards started posturing himself for a 2008 run at the presidency when allegations started surfacing about an extra-marital affair. At first no-one wanted to believe it. Eventually, a child was born that was said to be the child of Senator Edwards. One of Senator Edwards’s campaign team members, Andrew Young, initially admitted to being the father. Later Andrew Young recanted and wrote a book detailing how Senator Edwards had asked him to pose as the father (which was not true) so that the heat would be taken off the Senator. And so, one of the most promising political careers was brought to a crashing halt through a foolish dalliance into adultery.
Of course, Senator Edwards’s adulterous affair was eventually highly publicized. It is easy to point accusatory fingers at public figures. However, do we ever hurt ourselves through foolish behaviors? Do we always use our God-given wisdom to act wisely?
The writer of Ecclesiastes, known as Qoheleth or the Preacher, recognized that people in his day did not always use God-given wisdom to act wisely. This was particularly true in the political arena. And so the Preacher urged his readers to use wisdom, especially in the political arena, to navigate their way through life.