Where is the balance?
It is easy for us to forget that God has the whole world in His hands. When we fail to live in light of His sovereignty, we take on a man-centered worldview that tends to downplay God’s active involvement in our lives. Solomon once again acknowledged that God has everything under control and shifts his perspective from the horizontal to the vertical as wisdom moves to the forefront.
Accept It (11–14)
Solomon emphasized the great value and desirability of divine wisdom. Wisdom can be defined as the righteous application of true knowledge. It is the inner strength that comes from a God-instructed conscience. Wisdom is the gift of God (Prov. 2:6) and is necessary if we are to live our lives for the glory of God.
Just as receiving an inheritance is a blessing, so is receiving wisdom. Both wisdom and financial wealth can provide security in this life. Financial wealth provides protection in a financial crisis, but wisdom transforms our hearts and minds and enables believers to navigate the challenges of life in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.
If we have wisdom, we are able to recognize that God created everything and does all things according to His own purposes. He is in control of everything. The Trinity never meets in emergency session. Therefore, we should be joyful in the seasons of blessing and thoughtful in seasons of adversity.
We are commanded to “consider the work of God.” In other words, we need to remind ourselves that the good times and the hard times are from the hand of God (Job 2:10). As Christians, we find ourselves having to fight the good fight for faith (Mark 9:24). May the Lord strengthen our faith in Him as we learn more about His character by treasuring His word in our hearts.
Find Balance (15–18)
We have been told to live the good life. But if goodness is not rewarded in this life, why be good? Solomon was sympathetic. His life, like everyone else’s, was lived in a world subject to frustration, where temporal rewards and punishments were not neatly packaged.
It is all very well to speak of accepting prosperity and adversity. Yet it is strange when a righteous man dies while he still has much to offer while a wicked man lives on to continue his evil actions. In light of the futility and unfairness of life, how are we to live?
Solomon was not advising us to obey God halfheartedly. He was urging us to live with balance. God desires for us to walk with Him in obedience and behave toward others with humility. We should avoid the path of self-righteousness and an inflated perception of how wise we are as well as reject the path of wickedness in our lives.
Acknowledge Sin (19–22)
Not only does wisdom give balance, it also produces strength. Wisdom gives us strength to handle the painful tensions of life. We must acknowledge sin in the world and in ourselves. We all stumble and fall, but wisdom produces strength to help us handle this tension.
Wisdom gives us strength to avoid the pitfalls of gullibility. When people lavishly praise us, we should not let it go to our heads. Wisdom equips us to keep our feet anchored in reality. Wisdom also gives us strength to resist criticism.
Wisdom can help us distinguish between constructive and destructive criticism and keep us from judging others falsely.
By Jay T. Robertson, Ph.D.
Robertson is Associate Professor of Christian Studies at the University of Mobile