Going Beyond Wisdom
One of the reasons we ought to hate sin is because it always taints our minds away from the purity of God. We could have all the wisdom in the world, and yet, if we do not take our own advice, we compromise and contaminate our own understanding. Only at the point of full repentance, forsaking our sin, can our minds be truly restored.
Solomon’s life is an example of this. He did not refuse himself anything his eyes desired (Ecclesiastes 2:10). Contrast this with the lifestyle of Job, who wrote, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1). Solomon’s teaching did not always result in his obedience. He wrote, “Do not look at wine when it is red…In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder” (Proverbs 23:31-32). Yet, in Ecclesiastes 2, he confesses, “I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine — my heart still guiding me with wisdom” (2:3). In Ecclesiastes, we also read Solomon’s confession that he amassed silver, gold, and many concubines (2:8). He follows this up once again by saying, “my wisdom remained with me” (2:9). Yet, he was directly disobeying Deuteronomy 17:17, which says that the king, “shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.” As the very next verse in Deuteronomy assures us, King Solomon would have had to write out by hand these instructions against excess wives, silver, and gold. He knew well God’s commandment in these matters.
Why then does Solomon claim both times to still be led by wisdom? Perhaps his guilty conscience was making an empty justification for his actions. But, in another sense, Solomon revealed that his confidence was mistakenly in the gift of wisdom which he saw at work in his life. Wisdom can be like a spiritual gift. We can have a God-given understanding of the Word of God and an ability to observe, analyze, and understand. But having wisdom does not ensure that we will walk in it. These are two separate issues. God does not take back spiritual gifts if we choose to disobey Him. That may be why Jesus warned us of the terrible mistake of seeing spiritual gifts as evidence of God’s favor, while our lifestyle is contrary to His Word (Matthew 7:21-23).
Notice how Solomon never states that joy was with him at all! He actually confesses that he hated life and found all his pleasures empty, even giving his heart up to despair (Ecclesiastes 2:17, 20). Yet, in the same breath, he teaches that the one who pleases God receives joy as well as wisdom (2:26). Unlike spiritual gifts, joy absolutely will decrease and even depart due to disobedience. If we please God, we will have joy – not emotional highs but deep, abiding joy. Like Solomon, if we fail to take our own wise advice, we will end up with a joyless wisdom. But if we live to please God, then even in suffering and loss, the quiet joy of knowing Christ remains in our hearts. Is my life marked by joy? Can I find joy in menial tasks and even hard labor? Can I find joy in my house spending time with my family? If something in my life is joyless, I have not yet fully learned obedience to Christ there.
The Rock Church