The Limitations of Wisdom

Reading the Word

Ecclesiastes 9:13–16 (ESV)

13 I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me. 14 There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. 15 But there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16 But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard.

Understanding and Applying the Word

How valuable is wisdom? How much difference does it really make in the end? Here we read the story of how a poor man with great wisdom saved a city from being captured by a more powerful enemy. This may seem to tell us that wisdom is of great value and that through it we can find meaning and purpose in life. However, we also read, “Yet no one remembered that poor man.” In the end the poor man was forgotten and his wisdom left nothing lasting for him.

It is true that wisdom does have its advantages in life. This is the point of verse 17. However, in the context of the entire book of Ecclesiastes, wisdom proves to be vanity in bringing lasting meaning and fulfillment to life. After all, just as the poor man in the story, we will all die and soon be forgotten, even if we are wise. There must be something else to give meaning or we have to admit that it is all meaningless. Thankfully, there is more and Jesus Christ gives us the answers to our search for meaning and purpose. God is there and the grave is not the end of the story. Want to know more? Grab a Bible and begin reading in one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) about the person of Jesus.


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