Our Teacher now examines wisdom and folly, and in so doing he comes to the conclusion that wisdom is better, but it only goes so far. A wise person walks in light, while a fool stumbles around in the dark; this is good. Yet they both end up in the grave, so what’s the real difference? Oh yes, this is quite an optimistic message!
In verse 12 he points out that his successor will have nothing left to do that he (Solomon) hasn’t already done, implying that we can re-examine his conclusions, but we’ll still get the same results. Yes, wisdom is better than folly, but then we already knew that.
Here’s my own illustration:
If you are old enough to recall the 1970’s, then you will no doubt recall that all of the new things that went on in that period were cutting edge, really great, and of course in all cases cool in the extreme. Now, ask yourself: How are the cool things of the 1970’s looking now? Do you still go to the store and hope to buy an avocado green refrigerator? Hey guys, do you miss wearing bell bottoms? Been to a disco lately?
Now look at things as they are now; you do realize that all of the latest and greatest cool things of today are going to look just as stupid as the latest and greatest of the 70’s 35 years from now, right?
A wise person sees right through all of the latest and greatest styles and fads; a fool jumps into them with both feet thinking they have found the “ultimate”.
Wisdom enables a person to think several steps ahead and avoid many problems in the process, while a fool jumps into everything that comes along and gets burned over and over. This, I think, is the heart of what Solomon is teaching us. It is good to be wise, but in the end, it really doesn’t matter all that much, since the day is rapidly approaching when the wise and the foolish will be dead and gone… and forgotten.
Before I wrap up on this uplifting note, please notice that he is still speaking of life “under the sun”; can it be, that there is more to our lives than just that which goes on “under the sun”? I sure hope so!
In the next part of our adventure, the Teacher tells us about the joys and fulfillments of our labors, but for that we’ll have to wait until next time.