Solomon had learned to be wise, and he had also behaved in a foolish manner. Now, he compares the two experiences. They were similar in some ways.
Both Paul and James wrote about two kinds of wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-30; James 3:13-17). One kind of wisdom is a gift that comes only from God. It causes a person to respect God and to refuse evil things. We read about that kind of wisdom in the Books of Proverbs and Job (Proverbs 3:5-6; Proverbs 9:10; Job 28:28).
But the Book of Ecclesiastes seems to have a lower standard of wisdom. Here, we read about the kind of wisdom that comes from this world. To become wise in this manner, a person must think clearly and study carefully. Like Solomon, that person must learn all that he can from this world.
So, a wise person understands what is happening. He is like a person who carries a lamp at night. The light may not actually make him safer, but at least he can see the dangers! But the foolish person pretends that there are no dangers. Or he does not care about danger. Or he is not patient enough to study about such things. Risks and dangers are unknown to him.
A wise person can protect himself from some troubles. But only a fool imagines that he can protect himself from every trouble. So a wise person realises that he will certainly die. He has learned from his study of this world that he cannot remain in this world. And then somebody else will receive everything that the wise man obtained by his wisdom. And after a time, people will forget both the wise man and the things that he learned in this world.
But the wisdom that comes from God brings life, not death (1 John 2:17; Proverbs 8:32-36).
Please use the links at the top of the page to find our other articles in this series. You can download all our articles if you go to the download page for our free 450 page course book.
© 2014, Keith Simons.