Useful Bible Studies > Ecclesiastes Commentary > chapter 7

Wisdom and goodness

Ecclesiastes 7:19-20

Wisdom is powerful, but it is very rare. In fact, it is impossible to obtain perfect wisdom from anything or anyone in this world.

The author of Ecclesiastes considered that wisdom and righteousness (goodness) are really the same thing. Real wisdom is always good; and goodness is always wise.

In Ecclesiastes 9:13-16, the author will tell a story to prove that one wise man is stronger than a whole army. In that passage, the wise man defends his own city. Here in Ecclesiastes 7:19, the wise man defeats an enemyís city. Ancient cities had strong walls for their defences. And this city had 10 powerful captains as its guards. But wisdom made the wise man stronger than all his enemies were.

That is the strength of a man who is perfect in wisdom and goodness. We very much desire to find such a person, but our efforts must disappoint us. Nobody is completely good. Everyone has done wrong and evil things that are against Godís law. Godís judgement against us is that we are all guilty people. Not one person can pretend to be wise or good in front of God. Godís standards are perfect and no person is ever perfect.

But people have terrible enemies that they must oppose. I do not mean their human enemies, although those enemies are often powerful enough to make anyone afraid. But there are worse enemies than those, for example, the devil and the power of death (Ephesians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 15:26). Even our own evil deeds control us like slaves (Romans 7:17-22). We need real goodness and wisdom to defeat enemies like those ones!

We do not have that wisdom and goodness, and we cannot get them from this world. They are not something that we can achieve by careful study or good works. These things come only from God (Job 28:28). It is only God who can save us from those terrible enemies.

So Paul was making an important statement when he called Christ: Ďthe wisdom of Godí (1 Corinthians 1:24). Paul declared that he would not trust his own righteousness. Instead, he had received righteousness from God when he (Paul) trusted Christ (Philippians 3:9).

By means of Christ, God gives his people wisdom and righteousness. He makes them holy and he frees them from their enemies (1 Corinthians 1:30). So there is no reason for pride, except in what God has done (1 Corinthians 1:31). We cannot save ourselves, but God can save us. So we must trust him.

Next part: Am I good enough? (Ecclesiastes 7:21-22)

 

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© 2014, Keith Simons.