The Bible teaches wisdom by illustrating its opposite, folly. For the Christian, wisdom is not only appropriate actions, but an understanding that our lives are bound up with Christ.
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 10:1-20
- In this chapter Solomon is commending wisdom to us, holding out to us a portrait of a foolish man and a portrait of a wise man.
- We ought to persevere in wisdom, despite the discouragements of life under the sun. We need to be patient and peaceful, yet stand our ground on important issues (cf. Prov. 25:15).
- A wise man’s heart turns to the right (hand). The significance of the right hand in Scripture includes authority, strength, power, blessing, peace, God’s presence. The wise man’s heart is turned toward God.
- A fool’s heart is in his left hand. The left hand signifies chaos, weakness, rebellion, danger, and a heart turned away from God.
- You can identify a fool even in how he walks down the street (Ecc. 10:3). A fool is careless, thoughtless, and irresponsible.
- Solomon uses practical, day-to-day examples to illustrate what a foolish man is like (Ecc. 10:8-10).
- We need to think ahead, and use proper tools. Some tasks are risky, but we must not avoid responsibility.
- Some of Solomon’s examples have a deeper meaning. Digging a pit to catch others signifies treachery and malice. Removal of a wall signifies the removal of boundaries, defenses and security, etc.
- The fool talks a lot (Ecc. 10:11-14). You can identify a fool by listening. The fool always shares his own opinion.
- The fool’s heart is evil, and so his talk ends in madness (Ecc. 10:13). We will give an account for every idle word we speak (Matt. 12:34-36).
- The fool’s heart does not understand the simplest things. We must be careful not to overlook the basics of life, or dwell on trivialities.
- In contrast to the fool, the heart of the wise is turned toward God (Ps. 16:8).
- The wise man is thoughtful and careful; he is responsible with bread, wine, money (Ecc. 10:19).
- The right use of money can be used for good, caring for dependents and generously supplying other people in need.
- The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious, and win favour (Prov. 15:23; Eph. 4:29; Prov. 12:18; Prov. 15:4).
- Hold your tongue, be careful how you speak even in private (Ecc. 10:20; 1 Tim. 2:1-2). Be careful what you say on social media.
- Which man do you resemble? More often than not, there is folly and not wisdom in our hearts (Jer. 17:9). Our heart before God isn’t right.
- We need the blessing of regeneration, a new heart (Ez. 36:25-28).
- God’s promise is revealed in Christ. Christ has taken us in His right hand, He is holding onto us. We belong to Him.
- Contrast the foolish man’s heart with the wise man’s heart.
- Identify the characteristics of your own heart.
- What does wise speech look like?
- What are some practical consequences of wise living?
- Where can we find help when our lives are characterized by folly?