What Did the Wise Man Mean?
Wisdom’s Superior Value
An inheritance is of value. But of what benefit would it be if the one getting it lacked the insight to manage it properly? King Solomon wrote: “Wisdom along with an inheritance is good and is advantageous for those seeing the sun. For wisdom is for a protection the same as money is for a protection; but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom itself preserves alive its owners.”—Eccl. 7:11, 12.
Thus wisdom is shown to have greater value than material possessions. A person who lacks wisdom may quickly squander an inheritance. While money provides a measure of protection, enabling its possessor to get what he needs, it can still be lost or stolen. The rich person may even become a target for robbery and violence. On the other hand, wisdom, the ability to use knowledge in solving problems or in attaining certain goals, can safeguard a person from taking foolish risks that can jeopardize his life. It can save a person from a premature death and, when based on a proper fear of God, can lead to his gaining eternal life.
Wisdom definitely has protective value. The wise man said: “Wisdom itself is stronger for the wise one than ten men in power who happened to be in a city.” (Eccl. 7:19) Because of its protective value, wisdom can accomplish more than “ten men,” a complete number of warriors, in protecting the inhabitants of a city under siege.
In view of the fact that all humans are imperfect, we cannot get along without the wise guidance Jehovah God has provided in his Word. Being sinners, humans fall far short of God’s perfect standard. Solomon said: “For there is no man righteous in the earth that keeps doing good and does not sin.” (Eccl. 7:20) Surely, then, we should make the wisdom revealed in the Bible our own. This will enable us to make our way successful both now and in the future.
Things Man Cannot Change
Many things that happen in this imperfect world are beyond human control. Though undesirable, they cannot be changed. King Solomon remarked: “See the work of the true God, for who is able to make straight what he has made crooked?” (Eccl. 7:13) In other words, who among mankind can straighten out the defects and imperfections that God allows? No one, for not only is there a purpose behind everything that the Most High himself does, but also there is a purpose in his permitting other things to happen.
For this reason Solomon recommends: “On a good day prove yourself to be in goodness, and on a calamitous day see that the true God has made even this exactly as that, to the intent that mankind may not discover anything at all after them.” (Eccl. 7:14) According to this advice, a person should appreciate a day when things go well and show this by reflecting goodness, generosity, kindness, and joy in his own words and actions. He should view a good day as a gift from God. But what if the day brings calamity, trouble? A person does well to “see,” that is, to recognize that God has allowed the calamity to take place. Why has he done so? Solomon says, “to the intent that mankind may not discover anything at all after them.”
The fact that God permits us to face both joys and troubles, not only gives us opportunity to develop endurance, but also, as Solomon pointed out, should impress upon us that we cannot tell just what the future will bring. There are no exceptions; calamity can befall both the righteous and the wicked. In fact, righteous people may be suffering, while wicked men may apparently be prospering. Solomon continued: “Everything I have seen during my vain days. There exists the righteous one perishing in his righteousness, and there exists the wicked one continuing long in his badness.”—Eccl. 7:15.
This situation, of course, disturbs many people. They even become angry with the Most High. But this is something to be avoided. We should instead trust God, remembering that he is a God of love. (1 John 4:8) Whatever he permits will never result in permanent harm to anyone. The fact that both good and bad can come to a person should make us realize the importance of depending, not on ourselves, but on God. While we may not understand certain things now, we can rest assured that, after everything has run its full course, what God has permitted will have served a beneficial purpose for all concerned.
The apostle Peter made this clear when commenting on the suffering coming upon fellow believers in his time: “Beloved ones, do not be puzzled at the burning among you, which is happening to you for a trial, as though a strange thing were befalling you. On the contrary, go on rejoicing forasmuch as you are sharers in the sufferings of the Christ, that you may rejoice and be overjoyed also during the revelation of his glory. If you are being reproached for the name of Christ, you are happy, because the spirit of glory, even the spirit of God, is resting upon you.” (1 Pet. 4:12-14) “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all undeserved kindness, who called you to his everlasting glory in union with Christ, will himself finish your training, he will make you firm, he will make you strong.”—1 Pet. 5:10.