THE POOR WISE MAN WHO DELIVERED A CITY
“I have also seen wisdom under the sun on this wise, and it seemed great unto me: There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it. And there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.”
This incident was evidently included in the book here as another example of the `vanity’ which the author found in everything that he saw `under the sun.’ Indeed, there is something distressing in this.
Look at the monuments men have built all over the world. Whom do they honor? Generally, they honor those who butchered their thousands and tens of thousands on bloody battlefields, but not the wise statesmen who negotiated peace. “How warped are our human value systems! Jesus said, `Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God'” (Matthew 5:9).”
The sad fact of this little city’s true benefactor having been forgotten is only one of a million other similar situations in which there have been gross miscarriages of human justice and even intelligence. Why? The status of our human race is the only explanation that is needed. Our race, which is in rebellion against God, is divinely condemned to death. “Thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). If one leaves God and his merciful provision for man’s redemption out of consideration, our wretched race, wallowing in the miseries, disease and violence which are the fruit of its own wickedness, is indeed `vanity of vanities.’ Solomon’s analysis of what he saw `under the sun’ was profoundly correct, if the observer leaves God out of his analysis, as Solomon was obviously doing in this part of Ecclesiastes.
“No man remembered that same poor man” (Ecclesiastes 9:15). One of the shameful characteristics of our fallen race is that of ingratitude. Abandoned children, adopted by Christian parents and reared even in luxury have been recently indicted for murder of their parents! Today’s headline in the Houston Post (July 22,1993) highlights the story of a benefactor who stopped to aid stranded motorists, and they tried to rob him! Human gratitude! Where is it?
Blow! Blow! Thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude.
Freeze, Freeze thou bitter sky,
Thou dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot.
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy tooth is not so sharp
As friend remembered not.
We do not accept the following translation which varies from the American Standard Version, and the Revised Standard Version, but we cite it here as an interesting variation. “And there was found in it (the city) a poor (but) wise man; he could have saved the city by his wisdom, but no one thought about the poor man.” “This means that, by a social prejudice based on class-consciousness, wisdom was made non-operational with the result that the city was not saved.” This interpretation, of course, relies on the variable rendition.