Wisdom (Part 2)

Reading Assignment: Ecclesiastes 9:13-11:8

Did you understand what you read?

  1. How does a wise person speak? Why does a foolish person feel the need to shout?
  2. When a wise person briefly acts like a fool, what happens?
  3. How does the position one holds in life reflect the wisdom of the person?
  4. Compare how the wise and the fool uses words.
  5. Why should we be generous with what God has given us?
  6. If you wait for just the right moment to do something, what happens?


Let us first consider the value of wisdom. Turn to the story related in II Samuel 20:16-22. The person who saved the town is not named, but he showed that wisdom can beat strength. However, it is not without its problems. Everyone remembers the strong leader who won a fierce battle, but no one remembers those who win by wisdom. Speak your wise thoughts quietly (James 1:19-20, Colossians 4:6). There is no need for shouting. People who shout are only trying to make up for the lack of content in their words. Also, remember that wisdom is not a substitute for righteousness. Wisdom cannot cover sin in our lives.

You can spend your life cultivating a reputation for wisdom and destroy it in a moment by acting foolishly one time. Regardless of what he thinks, a fool is easy to spot. If you do end up acting foolishly, try to rectify the situation. Don't give up before you take a chance to apologize. Remember that position in life doesn't reflect the amount of wisdom that man possesses.

I can see two ways of reading Ecclesiastes 10:8-9. Solomon could be pointing out that hard physical work does have its dangers. However, these verses could have a second meaning. When you try to snare other people (digging a pit, breaking in through a wall), you will end up harming yourself. When people lack wisdom, they try to make up the lack of physical strength. As a result, they end up doing things the hard way and placing themselves in greater danger.

Be careful to whom you tell secrets. If you don't want your words to get out, only trust your secrets to a true friend. Words can entrap the fool, but they give grace to the wise. The fool starts off his speech badly and manages to make things worse as he continues to talk. The fool uses extra words to make up the lack of wisdom in what they are saying. Fools hate to work because it tires them.

Fools are bad enough, but when they are in power watch out! Fools feast for pleasure and to get drunk. When a fool is in charge, things break down and don't get fixed (remember, the fool hates to get tired). When the government is run by fools, you find bribery, corruption, and decay.

Always keep a tight reign on your thoughts. What you think shows up in your facial expressions and your actions.

Next, let us consider money matters. When God blesses you with plenty, be generous with it (I Timothy 6:18-19). Invite less fortunate people to share your meals. Your generosity will come back to you later. Remember, Jesus' parable of the unjust steward (Matthew 5:39-42). You cannot predict the future. If you constantly wait for "the right moment," you'll never accomplish anything. The right moment rarely comes. If it does come you probably will not recognize it. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. We don't fully understand this world and we can't understand God. Hence, never place yourself in a situation where you are totally dependent on one thing going right.

It is good to remember the great times that we had in the past, but we should not do it exclusively. The bad times that we experienced helped to teach us to live better (James 1:2-4). We need to remember the bad times as well as the good times. Never be concerned with the future, there is no way we can know what our future will hold (Matthew 6:34, Philippians 4:6).


  1. What do you think Solomon meant in Ecclesiastes 10:2 when he stated that a wise man's heart is near his right hand and a fool's heart is near his left hand?
  2. What do you think Solomon was teaching in Ecclesiastes 10:8-9?
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