The Fate of the Wise and the Fool

Reading the Word

Ecclesiastes 2:12–17 (ESV)
12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done.
13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.
14 The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them.
15 Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity.
16 For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool!
17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.

Understanding and Applying the Word

There are advantages to living wisely in the world. The Book of Proverbs speaks to many of those advantages. However, even with those advantages, there is an undeniable fact: the fate of the wise is no different than the fate of the fool. The wise dies just like the fool and before long, both are forgotten.

There are many things we can pursue in life to find meaning and purpose. Solomon has already shown us that some of the very things we pursue today are simply vanity. They leave us empty. The things we have seen so far include wisdom, knowledge, and pleasure. The reality of death undoes anything we hope to find lasting purpose from in this world. If there is to be any true meaning, there must be something more. Thankfully, we know that there is more because God has revealed himself through his word and through his Son, Jesus Christ. God’s word and the life and works of Jesus tell us that death is not the end and there is hope for all who trust in Christ. There is an eternity waiting and it is filled with purpose.


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