Solomon continues his lament. Today he looks at the difference between living wisely or foolishly. One is better he says, but… “all is vanity” in his eyes.
The wisest king to ever rule is despondent. He is pouring his heart out to us in this book. His main cry is that nothing last forever and when we are gone, we are forgotten. “All is vanity”; everything is like a vapor in the wind that vanishes as it is carried away.
Solomon takes a little time to think about the difference between living wisely and living foolishly; madness and folly. He readily admits that there is gain to living wisely as opposed to living foolishly. I will second his observations! Those who walk in wisdom are aware of what is going on around them. They can take advantage of opportunities that are before them. They can often avoid trouble. The foolish man stumbles around in life as if he is walking in the dark. He runs smack into trouble because he wasn’t paying attention to where he was going and wasn’t thinking about the consequences of his actions. GREAT difference in how these lives proceed. And then he comes to a “but.”
“But” bad things happen to good people. “But” good things happen to bad people. “But” BOTH die in the end! “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” (verse 15b).
Now Solomon hates his life. He sees no purpose to all he has done. He doesn’t believe he will even be remembered after he dies. He spent his life walking in wisdom (most of the time), yet he doesn’t see how his life will be remembered any more than the man who goes about stumbling through life. “What does it matter!”
IT MATTERS! Yes, bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. Yes, BOTH eventually die. And, yes, not everyone will be remembered after they are gone. BUT THIS IS NOT ALL THERE IS TO LIFE. And life does NOT END at the grave.
I was just given a picture of ripples on a pond. EVERY ripple WILL eventually reach the shore. It will lose a great deal of its power in the process so that we may not even notice it when it does. That is the single man, trying to live life on his own. Whether he is living wisely or foolishly, if he travels alone, he will make very little impact on the world.
But let that ripple meld into the next and the next and the next still. Soon, they become a wave. As they crash upon the shore they will be seen. When ALL of them are in unison that is. If there is no harmony between the ripples, they will cancel each other out. Nothing will be accomplished and their energy will have been spent for nothing.
Living wisely demands that we find others who are like minded and join with them. (Solomon will touch on this later too.) Together, we can move mountains!
As for good things happening to bad people and vice versa, it’s not what happens that is important. It’s how we rise or fall under the events. A wise person doesn’t say, “There is no such thing as disease” and refuse to wash his hands. But when he becomes sick, in spite of his precautions, he doesn’t throw up his hands and say “What’s the use!” He doesn’t blame God for “making” him sick. He doesn’t hide in a closet so it can never happen again. Instead, he deals with the illness and moves on. The TRULY wise man leans on the Lord and those around him for support during the process. Even if this illness leads to death, the wise man puts his future in the hands of the Lord. Because there is MORE beyond the grave.
Though both die, both do not proceed to the same end/beginning afterwards. Those who know the Lord will spend eternity with Him. Those who don’t won’t. Without God, that existence is HELL; literally and figuratively.
There are both good and evil people who are remembered for many generations to come. Solomon is one of them, even though he was afraid he wouldn’t be. I think it is more important WHAT you are remembered for than for how long you are remembered. If I am remembered by my family as a mother who loved her children and grandchildren with all she had, I’m ok with that. If they remember that I told them about Jesus and lived my life loving Him, I’m GOLDEN with that! I don’t have to be remembered by the masses or down through history. God remembers me and He let me put my stamp on the lives of my family, both immediate and extended. That’s all I need to know.
Father God, thank You that life isn’t futile. Thank You that following You DOES make a difference. Thank You that You are with me no matter what I walk through. For any who remember me, let it be for loving and following You.