Daily Update #274
Today the teacher points out the imbalance of the impact of foolishness over wisdom. The two don’t seem to cancel each other out.
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.10 As dead flies give perfume a bad smell,
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honour.
2 The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
but the heart of the fool to the left.
3 Even as fools walk along the road,
they lack sense
and show everyone how stupid they are.
4 If a ruler’s anger rises against you,
do not leave your post;
calmness can lay great offences to rest.
It is one of nature’s fundamental laws that disorder always increases. Think about it, how easy would it be to put toothpaste back in the tube; or restoring a piece of wood after you burn it? This law (called the second law of thermodynamics) has a far-reaching philosophical dimension, which the author of Ecclesiastes would definitely relate to. However, a Monday morning is perhaps not the best time for a physics lecture!
In this passage we see the foolish are easier to notice and hear, because the destruction left in their wake. So our lesson today is that wisdom should be sought out, because it is less vocal than foolishness.
God revealed himself to Elijah as a still small voice (1 Kings 19). A gentle whisper requires a clear and positive effort to hear. I believe that God very rarely will draw your attention by a lightening bolt, although sometime when we as sheep go astray, the Shepherd may call us back. In general, God’s promptings will require us to shut out the distractions of our hectic lives to hear that voice. In some instances that may be through noting the wisdom of our dear brothers and sisters in our fellowship, perhaps even the less vocal ones.
As advised in Proverbs:
Let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance (1:5)
It is therefore wise to listen to the wise!
Let us be attentive to the wisdom around us, particularly to those with a wealth of experience in the faith. We also should especially lend an ear in our quiet time to wisdom personified in Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfector of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind, in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.
Breathe through the heats of our desire thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire; speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire, O still, small voice of calm!
Verses 1 & 5 of the hymn by John Greenleaf Whittier (1872)