Talks for Growing Christians
Wisdom Under the Sun – Benefits and Limitations
Lesson Number 10
- Wisdom under the sun has its benefits.
- Wisdom under the sun has its limitations.
- Don’t practice Epicureanism based on Ecclesiastes!
- In speaking about life, Solomon uses the significant phrase “under the sun” which means life as seen from the human perspective. However, Solomon tells us that even apart from divine revelation, human wisdom does have some __________ and does provide certain________ _______ principles on how to govern life.
- In verses 1-9 some principles for living are given. What are two of them?
- In speaking about life, Solomon tells us that from the human perspective, “under the sun,” there are ____________ to wisdom.
- In verses 10-17, truths about human wisdom apart from divine revelation are given. What are two of them?
- Solomon tells us that even apart from divine revelation human wisdom does have some benefits and does provide certain common sense principles on how to govern life.
- In verses 1-9 two of the common sense principles provided by human wisdom are:
a. When you wisely submit to governing authorities and don’t revolt or dispute the word of the ruler, life will go easier for you (vs 2-5). Read Romans 13, Titus 3 and 1 Peter 2 in this connection.
b. There is an understanding that there is a time and place for everything (v 6), there is an inability to control the future (vs 7, 8), and there is the truth that what you reap you will also sow (vs 8). Even unbelievers with common sense understand these logical and moral principles that operate in the world “under the sun” where oppression and abuse of power exist (v 9).
- Solomon tells us that from the human perspective, “under the sun,” there are limits to wisdom.
- In verses 10-17, two of the limitations of human wisdom apart from divine revelation are:
a. There are apparent exceptions to the law of retribution (vs 10, 11). The wicked get honorable burials and their wickedness is forgotten. This course of events only encourages more evil. Only when we realize that in the end the wicked will be judged and the righteous will be rewarded (vs 12-13), does this make sense. This conclusion, however, requires wisdom from “above the sun.”
b. There is an inability to comprehend the ways of God. God has purposely hidden and not revealed all of life’s mysteries (Ecclesiastes 3:11), so it certainly stands to reason that no matter how hard a person “under the sun” tries to understand the enigma and mysteries of life, and regardless of how wise a person is “under the sun,” that person will never understand the ways of God. See Romans 11:33 and Isaiah 55:9 in this connection.
- Discuss the possible or probable reasons that believers often find it difficult to understand the limitations to human wisdom and why they often find it difficult to rely confidently on divine wisdom. Consider the impact of a faulty prayer life or the absence of a serious study of God’s Word.
- During the times in your life when you were not trusting in the Lord and were not seeking His wisdom, were you aware of the limitations of your own human wisdom? Did you wonder about the very purpose of your existence? Now is the time to turn to God, earnestly seek His wisdom and He will answer your prayer (James 1:5). He will allow you to understand all that has been revealed in His Holy Word.
- “. . . then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it, yet he will not find it. Moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it.”