What Did the Wise Man Mean?
WHAT IS THE WISDOM THAT COUNTS?
After a thorough investigation of the whole scope of human affairs, King Solomon committed his findings to writing. Regarding his efforts to help others to benefit from his research, he wrote: “Besides the fact that the congregator had become wise, he also taught the people knowledge continually, and he pondered and made a thorough search, that he might arrange many proverbs in order. The congregator sought to find the delightful words and the writing of correct words of truth.”—Eccl. 12:9, 10.
The Greek Septuagint Version of Ecclesiastes 12:9 and 10 reads: “And moreover, because the preacher was wise, because he taught mankind wisdom; that the ear might find what is comely from parables, the preacher made diligent search to find pleasing words and a writing of rectitude—words of truth.” (Thomson; 1 Ki. 4:29-34; see also The New English Bible and Ginsburg’s Commentary) In his writings he tried to reach the readers with delightful words, with interesting and truly worthwhile subjects. Since he was aided by God’s spirit, we today can accept Solomon’s findings without question. Besides, they have endured the test of time.
What was Solomon’s conclusion about all the literature existing in his day? He writes: “The words of the wise ones are like oxgoads, and just like nails driven are those indulging in collections of sentences; they have been given from one shepherd. As regards anything besides these, my son, take a warning: To the making of many books there is no end, and much devotion to them is wearisome to the flesh.”—Eccl. 12:11, 12.
The most beneficial writings, therefore, are those that reflect the wisdom of the “one shepherd,” Jehovah God. Excessive attention to other sources of instruction, however, can wear a person out needlessly, without his gaining much of real and lasting value. Especially when such writings are a product of worldly reasoning, and they conflict with godly wisdom, are they unwholesome and faith-destroying. On the other hand, the words of those having godly wisdom will, like oxgoads, prick the listeners or readers to advance in harmony with the wisdom stated. Also, those who occupy themselves with collections of sentences, that is, genuinely worthwhile wise sayings, are like nails. This may be because their good words, reflecting the wisdom of Jehovah God, can serve to stabilize and support the hearers.
Summing up his entire investigation, Solomon says: “The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man. For the true God himself will bring every sort of work into the judgment in relation to every hidden thing, as to whether it is good or bad.” (Eccl. 12:13, 14) A wholesome fear or regard for the Creator will protect us against adopting a foolhardy course of life that could bring untold trouble upon ourselves. Also, our recognizing that nothing escapes the notice of the Creator can serve as an incentive in observing his commandments. The Most High will judge all things, including those hidden from the view of humans. Since his commands are designed to promote our lasting welfare, is it not right and truly wise to observe them?