Much of what Solomon had to say about wisdom in the book of Ecclesiastes was positive. He also had some negative things to say about the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.
(Ecc 10:1) Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.
(Ecc 9:13) This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me: (14) There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: (15) Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. (16) Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.
(Ecc 7:23) 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?
(Ecc 1:17) And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. (18) For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
The Pitfalls of Wisdom
Today’s Bible readings highlight some of the problems Solomon saw in wisdom. First, notice that a reputation for wisdom is delicate. When you have a reputation for wisdom, people expect you to act wisely. Your reputation for wisdom become a frame that showcases stupid mistakes you make.
Next, we see that money makes a bigger impression than wisdom. You can be wise and be ignored because you’re poor. As we saw earlier, money isn’t the answer, but people pay more attention if you’ve got it.
Another problem Solomon found was that wisdom was unattainable. Solomon wasn’t saying that it was impossible to gain wisdom. Rather, he was saying that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. Paul said something similar:
1Co 8:2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
Finally, Solomon said that wisdom was a source of grief and sorrow. The more you know, the more sensitive you become to the foolishness all around you. You see the needless suffering that people bring upon themselves and the hurt they cause others because of the lack of wisdom. So wisdom isn’t the cure all for life’s problems.
What About You?
- Do you know enough not to be a know-it-all?
- Have you felt the pain of seeing others suffer needlessly because of their lack of wisdom?