Would You Rather? (Wisdom of Solomon Edition)

September 26, 2012 at 10:59 am | Posted in Ecclesiastes | 2 Comments
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Have you ever played the game “Would You Rather?” The idea is to take two equally unpleasant propositions (or, in a variation, two equally desirable propositions), and force the contestant to choose one. At least that’s how it was played at recess when I was a kid. “Would you rather get hit square in the face with a Nolan Ryan fastball or slide down a giant razor blade into a pool of rubbing alcohol?” Gross, huh? Well, I like to use the basic concept of this game in thinking about Ecclesiastes Chapter 7.

Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun. For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.

Ecclesiastes 7:11-12

Would you rather have: wealth or wisdom?

They say that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but that, if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. If we think of wisdom as only the means to acquire wealth, it might seem preferable to take the short cut and receive the wealth without the effort, but, according to the Bible, wisdom itself is the more valuable commodity. The caveat to the idea that learning to fish is better than receiving a free fish is: God is still the One Who provides the fish – and the rod – and the bait – and the water – and the strength to set the hook.

Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?

Ecclesiastes 7:13

In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.

Ecclesiastes 7:14

Would you rather have problems or prosperity?

This is a no-brainer for most of us. However, in a previous lesson we did learn that problems are an inevitable part of life, and in some ways, they are extremely beneficial when facing an uncertain future. So the caveat to this one is: We have to accept adversity from God without getting bitter at God for sending it.

All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness. Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.

Ecclesiastes 7:15-18

Would you rather have purity or pleasure?

As Christians we choose purity, which just so happens to contain real joy, which is far superior to temporal pleasure. But, again, there is a caveat: Beware of self-righteousness or pride.

For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

Ecclesiastes 7:20

Would you rather have infamy or ignorance?

Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22

On the one hand, no one really relishes the idea of being ignorant, but on the other hand, do you really want to know what everyone is saying about you? Sometimes, they say, ignorance is bliss. Here is the caveat to this one: Only Christ can control our thoughts and tongues.

All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?

Ecclesiastes 7:23-24

Would you rather have a God who is knowable or knowledgeable?

I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness: And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her. Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account: Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.

Ecclesiastes 7:25-28

If you are a lady, you are probably not appreciating the smug satisfaction my sinful flesh is taking in knowing that at least Solomon found one man out of 1000 with some wisdom, while not finding a single woman! (Sorry, just kidding.) The fact is, we have a God who is both transcendent and immanent. We can never truly know the depths of His glory, nor His secret counsels, nor the fullness of His wisdom. Yet He has revealed Himself to us to a degree that allows us to know Him intimately. The caveat to this is: We must accept that we can never know as much as God, and, left to our own devices, we tend to go astray.

Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

Ecclesiastes 7:29

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  1. […] 10. Fresh, Frail, or Fruitful? 11. Two Kinds of Heart Medication 12. Don’t Ruin Your Name 13. Would You Rather? (Wisdom of Solomon Edition) (*) 14. Don’t Lose Your Balance 15. Accurate Timing 16. The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men […]

  2. […] Living 10. Fresh, Frail, or Fruitful? 11. Two Kinds of Heart Medication 12. Don’t Ruin Your Name 13. Would You Rather? (Wisdom of Solomon Edition) (*) 14. Don’t Lose Your Balance 15. Accurate Timing 16. The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men 17. […]


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