1 A good name is better than precious ointment,
Ah yes, "The good old days..." The Bible right here warns us not to be trapped by thinking this, that it's now wise to do so. Really were the good old days better? Or was sin just masked better? I think back to when I was in school, the same issues were there, just hidden more - no one talked about them/ Drugs, alcohol, sexual behaviours, and more. The technology we have now has just exposed it more I think. In the days of selfies and smart phones with cameras and social media - nothing remains hidden anymore. Small events become huge because someone caught it on their cell phone and uploaded it to youtube. So no, not really better days, just disguised to make us think it was better. Fools are exposed more and more whether they fail at a robbery or try to get away with hitting someone - it's all exposed for everyone to see. Fools still try though...
Wisdom on the other hand, according to verse 11 - 12, protects and preserves - foolishness obviously then leaves us exposed and condemns us. See the contrast back and forth throughout this passage?
Vs 13 and 14 asks us to consider God's work: making straight paths out of what was crooked (Proverbs 3:5,6). Taking joy when things are good, pondering what God is meaning when adversity comes because God made both days.
Vs 15 Solomon talks about what he has seen in his life - righteous who perish, wicked living prolonged lives. It obviously frustrated him because the next thing he says is to not try to be too righteous and wise and destroy ourselves in the pursuit of it, and it also says to not be wicked or a fool and end up dying before our time. He points out to make sure we have a balance in our lives. Seek righteousness and wisdom, yes, but don't let that rule your life or you become a loveless person who is so focused on that you leave compassion and love out and are like a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. He is not encouraging us to be wicked or foolish, but he realizes sometimes we do wicked and foolish things because we're not thinking - so don't let that be how our lives are characterized. In verse 19 he tells us how wisdom gives us strength more than almost a dozen rulers, because they're unwise. And righteous living? It is a high calling because the goal is perfection - and no one is perfect down here. We won't be that way until we reach heaven. For now we do what we can through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Have you ever been in earshot of someone who is putting you down and they didn't realize it? Vs 21 and 22 says don't put stock into it, validating their thoughts by a reaction. Let it roll and let God deal with them. If you need to confront in love with the goal of restoration, not to put someone in their place. because as much as you hurt from what they have said, think of all the times when in our hearts we have thought bad things about others and wished them ill will. Scary huh? By verse 23 Solomon says he has tested everything by wisdom and thought he was going to be wise in all his dealing, but it didn't happen. he tried it all he says, and found this out: He mentions a woman, but essentially anyone who seeks to entrap and catch us for harm is worse than death. Those who please God escape this allegorical woman Solomon talks about, but the sinner falls into her traps. Also in verse 27 he says this is what I've found "says the Preacher" (see pastors in the Old Testament) it is hard to find righteous and wise people. God made us to be upright, but in our hearts we seek out ways to sin and scheme to do it. We don't use wisdom, instead we're fools most of the time.
That is so true - just look at thee world around us, look at your workplace, look at our homes, look at us, and we'll see that when we take our eyes off God and focus elsewhere, we seek out pleasures for ourselves and scheme and plan and become fools because we leave God, righteous living and wisdom out of the picture. So the point is - stay focused, pursue righteous living and wisdom, seek God first. Everything else second. God bless!