Useful Bible Studies > Ecclesiastes Commentary > chapter 9

Why people will not listen to wise advice

Ecclesiastes 9:16

This particular wise man saved his city by his wisdom (Ecclesiastes 9:13-15). He deserved a great reward, but he received none. He remained poor. He did not become well-known; in fact, people forgot him. And even the people whom he had rescued did not respect him. They refused to listen to his advice. They hated his wisdom.

Wisdom is not like other qualities that people may have, such as strength or wealth. Other people always respect a strong man because they are afraid of him. And although people often hate a rich man, they still desire to be rich like him.

But wisdom rarely impresses people. People are more likely to laugh at a wise man than to praise him.

The problem is that good advice is rarely popular. In fact, it is often the opposite of what people want to hear. For example, think about the things that a wise person should say about God. That person should say that peopleís evil deeds offend God (Romans 3:10-18). He should explain that all people have done wrong things against Godís law (Ecclesiastes 7:20). He should tell people that, at the proper time, God will certainly be their judge (Ecclesiastes 3:17; Ecclesiastes 12:14). People cannot save themselves by their own efforts; only God can save them (Romans 6:23). That is not popular advice, but it is all true.

It should not surprise us that wise words cause people to feel uncomfortable. If people were already wise, then they would not need wise advice. The wise person must advise people who lack wisdom. So of course they do not agree with that advice.

Often, people will only listen to wise advice when they are very desperate. That is what happened in the city in Ecclesiastes 9:13-15. Before the city was in danger, nobody cared about the wise man. Afterwards, nobody remembered him. But when the danger was greatest, the people were willing to follow his advice. And so, by his wisdom, he saved their city.

That is the experience of many Christians today. When they speak Godís message, they are declaring his wisdom. But usually, few people are willing to follow their advice (Matthew 7:13-14). Many people will not trust God until everything else in their lives has failed.

Next part: Quiet words of wisdom (Ecclesiastes 9:17-18)


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© 2019, Keith Simons.