Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part VII: Advice On Living This Life In View Of Man's Limitations To Find Meaning In It
E. Living With The Uncertainty Of What Will Occur In Our Futures
2. Adjusting To The Fact That Wisdom's Value Is Limited Due To The Uncertain Future
(Ecclesiastes 9:11-10:11 with 12:13-14)
  1. Introduction
    1. No one knows all about his future, so no one can plan well enough to avoid all future adversity in his life.
    2. Lest we think being WISE will insure God's rewarding us with missing ALL adversity in the future, Solomon discovered the wise often experience what adversity the foolish do, Ecclesiastes 9:11-12.
    3. We might become bitter for facing adversity as a WISE person, so Solomon offered us edifying advice:
  2. Adjusting To The Fact That Wisdom's Value Is Limited Due To The Uncertain Future.
    1. Having focused on the limitations of righteousness toward offsetting adversity in life, Solomon noted even the wise face adversity as do fools on account of the uncertainty of future events, Ecclesiastes 9:11-12:
      1. As the swiftest may not win the race, nor the strongest win the battle, so those who excel in wisdom, intelligence and knowledge do not always gain their expected respective food, riches nor favor, 9:11b.
      2. Indeed, "time and chance happen to them all" (NIV); like fish taken in a net and birds caught in a snare, anyone can suddenly be taken in the clutches of adversity in a time of sudden tragedy, 9:11c-12.
    2. There are causes for this limitation to our wisdom, and Solomon names them in Ecclesiastes 9:13-10:11:
      1. First, personal wisdom may go unrewarded due to human frailty, Ecclesiastes 9:13-16:
        1. Solomon recalled a poor, wise man once delivered a small city from a great king, Eccles. 9:13-15b.
        2. Yet, the people he saved in his town forgot the poor, wise man, so he went unrewarded, 9:15c-16.
      2. Second, just a little foolishness can nullify the effects of much good wisdom, Ecclesiastes 9:17-10:1:
        1. Building on his thought of how the poor, wise man's wisdom was more valuable than the opposing king's might, Solomon nevertheless noted one sinner (a fool) can destroy much good, 9:17-18.
        2. Accordingly, Solomon concluded a little folly can ruin a great amount of wisdom like small, dead flies will cause a whole perfume container to smell badly, 10:1; Bib. Know. Com., O.T., p. 1000.
      3. Third, the value of one's wisdom may be negated by the fallacious actions of one's superior, 10:2-7:
        1. Wisdom will protect one (like the right hand of one's ability) where folly leaves him vulnerable to adversity (like the left hand does for people who are usually right-handed), Ecclesiastes 10:2-3.
        2. Indeed, if a man wisely stays calm at is post instead of fleeing it when a king's anger rises against him, he can avoid trouble versus what would happen were he to flee his post, Ecclesiastes 10:4.
        3. Yet, a ruler may make a bad judgment about a wise subject, forcing adversity upon him, 10:5-7.
      4. Fourth, the value of wisdom can be overcome by its improper application (Ibid., p. 1001): in Eccles. 10:8-9, 10, Solomon noted dangers faced in various activities (8-9) can be overcome by wisdom (10); yet, in 10:11, the danger wins as wisdom is used too late (one fails to charm a snake before it bites)!
    3. Hence, Solomon's conclusion to the book of Ecclesiastes with this information directs us to insight since human wisdom can not fully protect one from adversity in view of man's limited knowledge of the future:
      1. God's purpose for man is that man give himself to respecting and obeying God, for God will evaluate man in eternity based upon the degree he respects and obeys the Lord, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.
      2. Thus, the mix of adversity and prosperity we experience in spite of our wisdom is permitted by God to cause us to focus on the account we will give unto Him at the end of this life rather than our trying to make this life our "heaven on earth" through excelling in wisdom!
Lesson: GOD has let us be LIMITED in how EFFECTIVE our WISDOM can be to equip us to avoid future adversity SO THAT we might FOCUS on RESPECTING so as to OBEY HIM in view of our ETERNAL accounting to Him rather than living for THIS life as though THIS LIFE is our heaven!

Application: Though INCREASING in wisdom has SOME value in this life, we dare make it our KEY GOAL, for OUR wisdom can NEVER bring us "heaven on earth" as it is far too inadequate to deliver us from even SERIOUS future adversity! Rather, we should RESPECT God and HEED HIM as our ULTIMATE goal, looking to our ETERNAL accounting to God and awaiting HIS future heaven!