Wisdom is Better than Strength (Ecclesiastes 9:13-18)

I finished the devotionals last week by encouraging you to be sure to not miss the final two Sundays of the current series, and then I go and get sick and miss Sunday myself!  Well, this is a grievous fact about life under the sun. Even the toughest of us get sick once in a while. It is actually only the fourth time in 24 years in Maryland that I’ve had to get a replacement, so I’m thankful for that. But wow, it is so exceedingly weird to be home on a Sunday morning. I just didn’t know what to do with myself.

The following example is going to be vague as it must intentionally be only generally referenced.

There is an organization that I have been a part of for a number of years. It has grown and is highly regarded at this time by many people. When I was first joining it at the beginning of this venture, the entire program was in jeopardy of discontinuance. I did not know this until later, being told after a time that something I had done had saved the fledgling organization from extinction. I was much flattered, though had only done what I thought to be the appropriate deed at that point in time. But does anybody associated with this organization still remember it? Not really. There is one person remaining who could testify that the story is true, but it has not especially benefited me personally in any way … and that’s honestly OK.

The old saying is that “no good deed goes unpunished.”  According to Wictionary.com, this means “Beneficial actions often go unappreciated or are met with outright hostility.”  This is essentially what Solomon writes about with a story illustration today …

Ecclesiastes 9:13 – I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: 14 There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. 15 Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.

17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.

18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

Another saying is “money talks”  … meaning that those who have it and the associated positions of power that accrue from wealth will be more often heard than a wiser person who is poor. Conventional thinking is probably that if a person is truly wise, they would have found a way to not be classified as poor.

There is plenty to discourage participation of life energy in truly good things. The time given to such may take away from the time available to accrue personal gains. Being involved in serving others wisely and well may also require funding from one’s own pockets. There is the temptation to just give up such endeavors, retreat to your own job and home, work hard, save much, be wealthy, and just forget about the needs of others or using your skills or resources beyond your own walls.

But isolation is not the answer. Wise words and good deeds are better than the foolishness of the masses. Yet there is the reality that sinners will somewhat commonly make a mess of good deeds in a crumbling world. Your work might be forgotten … on this side.

But a great comfort is found in Hebrews 6:10, that though others in this world might forget what we do in serving God, the Lord will not forget. You gotta like this!  “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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