The Benefits of Wisdom – September 22, 2023

What are the benefits of exercise? Exercise can help you be healthier, stronger, and more energetic. What are the limits of exercise? Exercise takes time, it can cause injuries, and in today’s world it often costs money. Like exercise, wisdom has benefits and limits. Ecclesiastes has taught us a lot about wisdom. Wisdom is good. However, we can’t trust our own wisdom to fix all our problems. We’ve looked at the limits of wisdom, the attributes of wisdom, and how to be wise in a wicked world. These discussions have pointed us to our need for submitting to God. He controls all things, and our lives belong to Him. Last week we uncovered the reality that we live in a world full of uncertainty. Once again, Solomon reminds us that wisdom is necessary in a world full of vanity. Ecclesiastes 10 gives the benefits of wisdom in a world full of uncertainty.

The first benefit of wisdom is that it protects from foolish mistakes (Eccl. 10:2-7). In verse 2, Solomon lays out the sharp contrast between the wise and the fool. The fact is, they’re on totally different paths. What path someone is on is usually evident by their words. A fool is known by words that lack sense. Foolishness is almost never quiet. Solomon gives some wisdom in verse 4. He says that if a ruler or someone with authority gets angry with you, don’t run, or respond with anger. Instead, the wise will respond with patience and humility by remaining calm. In verses 5-7, Solomon explains that this is important because those in high authority have power over your life. In those days, a king could execute a citizen for any reason he saw fit. Solomon’s point is, the wise won’t overreact when someone is angry with them. A fool will respond harshly and only make things worse. Wisdom remains calm when falsely accused and submits to authority.

The second benefit of wisdom is that it often brings success (Eccl. 10:8-11). Wisdom will consider the challenges and potential dangers of a job, prepare accordingly, then accomplish the task. Any job has potential risks. The fool ignores them and eventually regrets it. Wisdom will consider the risks and work carefully with proper planning and preparation. Furthermore, the wise won’t be lazy or procrastinate. The job only gets harder when we delay. If we procrastinate, then we risk losing the job all together. Solomon gives the example of a snake charmer. If he is slow to charm the deadly serpent, then it will bite him, and he’ll have a bigger problem. Therefore, the wise must be diligent and it will eventually bring success.

Third, wisdom wins favor with others (Eccl. 10:12-20). Wisdom wins favor by thoughtful words. A wise man earns approval by his words, but the fool is consumed by his foolish talk. The fool will talk a lot and his words will be full of filth and madness. But a wise man uses his words carefully. The fool multiplies words, yet his understanding is little. Wisdom also wins favor by using authority for good. A foolish ruler will use his power for his own wealth and satisfaction, instead of for his people. A young and foolish king that is only committed to his own glory is a curse to a land. This kind of ruler brings destruction. 

This section reminds me of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. In 1 Kings 12, we read about Rehoboam’s ascension to the throne of Israel. Early in his reign he was faced with a question. The people of Israel asked Rehoboam to lighten their workload because they had done so much during Solomon’s reign. They promised to serve him faithfully and give him full allegiance if he granted their request. First, Rehoboam took council with the elders. The wise elders told him to treat the people with kindness to earn their favor and allegiance. But Rehoboam didn’t like their advice. So, he went to his friends and they told him to respond with an iron fist and assert himself by adding to the people’s workload. In 1 Kings 12:14, Rehoboam tells the people that he will add to their yoke and discipline them with scorpions. But the foolish king should have listened to the elders because the people responded in verse 16, “And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.” So Israel went to their tents.” After this foolish decision, the kingdom of Israel was divided, and Rehoboam’s reign would be remembered forever as a bitter failure. The fact is, a foolish king can destroy a whole kingdom. But a wise king is a great benefit to a land and will be favored by the people. Wisdom will earn favor with others, but foolishness only causes strife.

What are you known for? The fool is quick to anger, slow to work, and recklessly causes strife. The wise man is patient, diligent, slow to speak, and pursues peace. Wisdom will protect, help, and bless those who have it. So get wisdom! James 1:5-6 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting…” We need God’s wisdom. So ask Him in faith and He will graciously provide.