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Ecclesiastes: Wisdom Not Found

And what else is meaningless? A vow to God that goes unfulfilled. “It is better not to make a vow. (5:2)

Riches. “Whoever loves money never has enough.” (5:10) What’s more, says the teacher, is that some people who have much prosperity can’t enjoy it. (6:1-6) And what makes this sin or just plain foolish–meaningless? “Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart.” (5:15)

In Chapter 7, the teacher writes of wisdom. Part of this chapter could be easily transferred to Proverbs. The teacher’s advice about wisdom is somewhat strange in places. Here’s a sampling of what the teacher has to say:

“[T]he day of death [is] better than the day of birth…death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.”

Laughter is overrated.

A wise person can become a fool.

Patience is better than pride.

It’s unwise to ask this question: “Why were the old days better than these?”

“Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise.”

“Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.”

If we’re determined to be wise, we’ll be disappointed–just like the teacher was.

In his quest for wisdom, the teacher found one upright man in a thousand but not a single upright woman. Wow! Bear in mind, however, that the teacher’s search for wisdom failed. That failure made his life even more meaningless. Next time, he should talk to more women, perhaps?

The teacher ends chapter 7 this way: “This only have I found: God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes.” (7:29)

The teacher didn’t say this outright, but it seems to me that someone who thinks he or she is wise can be dangerous.

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