Below is the reminder of the first sermon from today, August 23, 2009 – a cross post from the church site.
For this section, verses 11 and 12 serve as a bridge – connecting this section to the previous ones, as well as offering a prelude into what the Preacher is to write.l These two verses offer a slightly different summary of the over-arching observation that the world, from our perspective, seems random, and at its heart, unjust. The fastest should win the race, just as the strongest should win the fight. However, life is not as precise as mathematical formulas.
The randomness extends to the more critical as well: life and death. Just as random as a bird flying into a trap or a fish being caught, we are no different. The time of unexpected death is described as “evil”, not because of a moral quality that you can attribute to time, but that it’s fundamentally wrong. The perceived healthy ones are suddenly gone. In a world with limited medical knowledge, the randomness must have been quite acute.
Even if the world is full of randomness, for the Preacher, there remains the necessity to exercise wisdom. Verses 13-16 (Ecc 9:13-16) recount a story. A city was laid siege to by a great king. Now a siege was an absolute cut off from those inside the city. Usually, it’s only a matter of time before the barbarians overrun the gates. But in the face of on of the most effective military tactic of the time, a poor wise man was able to deliver the city. By his wisdom, he saw a way to save his town. But was he remembered? No. Wisdom is better than military prowess, but no one remembered the savior of the city.
For us, it’s hard to conceive of wisdom being better than our modern military technologies. Ours provides total annihilation – how is wisdom better? Can wisdom be exercised on the battlefield? Surely. Just as its profitable in the market, in the garden, at work. But of what use is a sword, spear or M16 in the same places? Of greatly limited use. As a wisdom is good in many places, the Preacher notes that it’s better in quiet for wisdom to be heard rather than the shouting of a ruler among fools. A ruler has the appearance of wisdom, but of what value is it to fools? Little, for certain.
Finally, what do we do with one sinner that destroys much good? On one had, it’s the counterpoint to the one wise man in the city providing deliverance for the city. A singular sinner could just as easily destroy the same city. More randomness that the Preacher observed.
Remember: as we are going about our day, in our various activities, we carry with us a wisdom far greater than any that the Preacher knew. 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 relates how we have, as believers, the wisdom of Christ. To the world, it’s folly; but to believers, it’s life. Even greater good can come from believers bringing the wisdom of Christ to bear on every facet of our lives.
Solo Deo Gloria,