Ecclesiastes 1:12-18: Wisdom

Read: Ecclesiastes 1:12-18

The writer of Ecclesiastes claims to have accumulated more wisdom than all of his predecessors. He “set his mind” to explore what people do. He set out to explorer life in general and all the wisdom and knowledge pertaining to it. At the end of his exploration, he concludes that He had studied much concerning the issues related to man, and found that the pursuit of wisdom is as anything void of meaning — what he calls a “chasing after the wind”. He says it is crooked and cannot be made straight. The sage is saying that man, in all his cunning, cannot do anything to alleviate meaningless in life through the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge.

It would stand to reason that the one writing a piece of wisdom literature putting down the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge is self-defeating.  The author if Ecclesiastes though isn’t putting down wisdom in general, rather the pursuit of wisdom as the end in and of itself. Wisdom is praised elsewhere in the scripture. Ecclesiastes 7 speaks of the value of wisdom. Proverbs speaks of wisdom in great lengths too, saying that is useful any number of things (Proverbs 1:1-6). Proverbs 1:7 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, rather than the end of it. Ecclesiastes concludes the matter after pursuing all other things to an end (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Proverbs starts the book with the fear of the Lord. Wisdom for the purpose of serving the Lord is always better. James 1:5 says that one should ask for wisdom and the Lord will give it (Proverbs 2:6), and one should ask for it in all things so that the Lord can teach one how to live skillfully.

For any Christian wanting to live a life of godliness, wisdom and knowledge are essential. But wisdom is not an end and of itself. If it does not manifest itself in some practical way to enable one to live skillfully as one should do according to the principles of God, then wisdom is useless, and without meaning, as the write of Ecclesiastes notes. One should be a hearer as well as a doer (James 1:23-25), learning the wisdom and knowledge of God and putting these things into practice. This way one can be filled with knowledge and walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and be able to bear fruit and please God in all respects (Colossians 1:9-12).

Lord, help to to have wisdom when I need and apply it skillfully!