We use this phrase as a sort of forewarning, that we have something important to say. I’m always curious where we get silly sayings like these, because they usually have good intent and reason but we lose it over time as the language of generations evolve.
14 There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed large siege works against it. 15 But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the wisdom of the poor man is despised and his words are not heeded. 17 The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. 18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.
“The pen is mightier than the sword,” is another colloquialism that I thought of while reading today’s words from Solomon. The element that Solomon proposes here, however, is “how worthwhile is wisdom if nobody listens to it?” So then I ask this question: what is wisdom? You see, often we see wisdom as instruction or advice given from one who has a lot of experience and is advising others. I believe wisdom is not information that is given, rather it is how we use that information.
Throughout Ecclesiastes we have been looking at “the wisdom of Solomon.” I’m afraid I have been looking at it all wrong. The wisdom of Solomon is not what he found, experienced, or has even written. The wisdom of Solomon is what he did with what he learned. We can have all the knowledge and experience in the world but if we don’t use it, then it is pointless, isn’t it? We can all own a bible but it’s pretty useless if we don’t apply what we learn from it.
The last verse seems a bit out of place, doesn’t it? I have found that the verses in the scriptures that seem odd tend to be inerrant truths that we should solidify in our minds so we never forget them. The word Solomon uses for “sinner” here is the Hebrew chata’ and has an eclectic and diverse list of definitions as it is used throughout the Old Testament. One that I found particularly interesting was, “miss, miss the way, go wrong.” What Solomon is saying in verse 18 is that although wisdom is much more potent than any crafted weapon of a warfighter, if it is misused then it is pointless. It is like putting the wrong size bullet in a gun or even holding it backwards. If knowledge is the firepower than wisdom is the skill to use it.
How are you using what you know? What are you using it for? Our society grows increasingly lazy even though we have literally a world of knowledge at our fingertips. Letting it go to waste is giving up in the fight.