1 December 2013 – Ecclesiastes 9:13-10:15 – A Fly in the Ointment?
Despite the meaninglessness and seemingly random nature of all things under the sun, the Preacher of Ecclesiastes is certain that wisdom is better than folly. Our passage this week (Ecclesiastes 9:13-10:15) provides numerous proverbs which drive home this conclusion. For example, the words of a poor wise man deliver a meagre city besieged by a great king, and “the words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.” However, the Preacher also recognises the devastating impact even just a little folly can have over wisdom– “wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good,” and, “dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honour.”
‘Under the sun’ these principles could be regarded simply as matters of ‘common sense,’ good strategy,’ or ’cause and effect’. Nonetheless, when considered in the realm of the kingdom of God, the consequences are far greater and need far more than mere common sense or careful strategy to deal with them! Paul recognises and teaches the same principle in Romans 5, where sin and death entered the world through the foolishness and sin of just one man – that’s one big dead blowfly in the ointment of God’s glorious creation! However, in God’s perfect wisdom from above, the quiet words and action of one man have disarmed the great powers of those who would come against him, and have delivered us from ALL the foolishness of the world, including our own – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Thanks be to God that just as one trespass led to condemnation for all, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.