Ecclesiastes 9:10-18 “The Poor Man’s Wisdom Is Despised, and His Words Are Not Heard”

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Ecc 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
Ecc 9:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Ecc 9:12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.
Ecc 9:13 This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me:
Ecc 9:14 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:
Ecc 9:15 Now 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.
Ecc 9:16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.
Ecc 9:17 The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.
Ecc 9:18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.

Introduction

In Mat 13 Christ, “speaking of things that are not as though they were”, tells His “yet carnal” disciples that they have been given “eyes that see and ears that hear… the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” which “kingdom” is within those to whom He comes (Luk 17:20-21). Then He goes on to tell them that no one in the Old Testament had been granted to see or hear the things they were given to see and to hear:

Mat 13:16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
Mat 13:17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
Rom 4:17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

In the same way we are told that we have been given the down payment of our salvation. Christ’s disciples had indeed heard and seen the mysteries of the kingdom of God. They had heard those mysteries and seen the power of that kingdom from the king of that kingdom Himself, yet their understanding was not really mature.

Mar 8:21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?

We are even told where we are at this very moment if we can understand.

Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

We are at this very moment ‘seated together with Christ “in the heavens”. This is not to be understood as the end product however. Rather it is to be understood as a promise and a down payment of something much greater than just a promise and a down payment.
For example we are indeed “now… the sons of God [ nevertheless] it does not yet appear what we shall be…”

1Jn 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

In the same manner “now are we… made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”, and yet “the whole creation waits for the adoption, to wit the redemption of our bodies”, for which we yet “hope [ and] wait… with patience”.

Rom 8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
Rom 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
Rom 8:24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
Rom 8:25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Eph 1:14 Which is the earnest [ Greek, down payment] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

“The redemption of our body” of Rom 8:23 and “the redemption of the purchased possession” of Eph 1:14 are one and the same, because we are not given our new spiritual body until the resurrection of the dead.

1Co 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
1Co 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

But our “first man Adam”, typified in this book of Ecclesiastes by King Solomon, has no hope beyond this life, so this is his way of dealing with his hopelessness:

Ecc 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Once again, King Solomon has no hope of future blessings for being obedient to God in this life, and he speaks only in terms of the grave as being the end of all men. While he confesses to the sovereign hand of God in all things, his inability to cope with his perceived futility of life, has him conflicted, and doubting his own statement earlier right here in this book of Ecclesiastes.
Compare this statement with what He has already told us in chapter three:

Ecc 9:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

The first part of this verse is true. “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill”. But compare the words, “but time and chance happeneth to them all, with these words from this same apostatized king in chapter three:

Ecc 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

If indeed “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” then there is nothing that happens by “chance”. When we consider that the Hebrew word here translated as ‘season’ is used only in the sense of an appointed time, the idea of “time and chance” is not what is being revealed in this verse at all.
Here is where this word appears in the Old Testament:

H2165
×–×ן
zemân
Total KJV Occurrences: 4
time, 2
Neh_2:6, Est 9:27
season, 1
Ecc_3:1
times, 1
Est 9:31
Its first use in Neh 2:6 is typical of all the others:

Neh 2:6 And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.

The word translated ‘time’ in Ecc 9:11 is the same word translated “time” 31 times in chapter 3, It is the same word translated time in verse one above, and it is the same word translated as “time” 28 times more in verses 2-8.

Ecc 3:2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
Ecc 3:3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
Ecc 3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Ecc 3:5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
Ecc 3:6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
Ecc 3:7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
Ecc 3:8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

It obviously means an appointed time, and when we consider the Hebrew word translated as “chance”, and we look at the root meaning of that word, we will see that anything being done by ‘chance’ is simply not a Biblical doctrine. That is especially true in light of this verse:

Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

The Hebrew word which is translated as ‘chance” here is ‘pega’, and this is how that word is defined by Strong’s concordance.

H6294
פּגע
pega‛
peh’- gah
From H6293; impact (casual): – chance, occurrent.
This word ‘pega’ is from the root word “H6293”, and this word ‘pega’ appears but one other time in the Old Testament:
H6294
פּגע
pega‛
Total KJV Occurrences: 2
chance, 1
Ecc 9:11
occurrent, 1
1Ki 5:4
Here is that one other entry for this word:

1Ki 5:4 But now the LORD my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent.

“Neither adversary nor evil occurrent”, means neither adversary nor evil, had ‘befallen’ King Solomon, as the root of the word Hebrew word ‘pega’ demonstrates.
Here is the root of this word ‘pega’:

H6293
פּגע
pâga‛
paw- gah’

A primitive root; to impinge, by accident or violence, or (figuratively) by importunity: – come (betwixt), cause to entreat, fall (upon), make intercession, intercessor, intreat, lay, light [ upon], meet (together), pray, reach, run.
When we examine the way this word is used, we will notice that it is never once used in the sense of an accident. Here are just the first three entries for this word:

Exo 5:3 And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.
Jdg 8:21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us: for as the man is, so is his strength. And Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that were on their camels’ necks.
Jdg 15:12 And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines. And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves.

There is nothing accidental about any of these events, nor is there anything accidental about any of the other entries for this word.
Here are the only two verses which can even remotely be considered as indicating that something can happen by “chance”:

Exo 23:4 If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.
Amo 5:19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.

They are all deliberate actions of falling upon someone or falling at a certain time predestined by God who is working all things after the counsel of His own will. (Eph 1:11).
Here is another way this root word ‘paga’ is translated:

1Sa 10:5 After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy:

This is Samuel telling Saul, who Samuel was about to anoint as the king of Israel, what would certainly befall him. “Thou shalt meet a company of prophets…” It was not an accident, and it was not by chance that it befell Saul just as Samuel had prophesied.
Knowing how this word is used elsewhere, and knowing how the root of this word is translated it is clear that this 11th verse would be much better translated thusly:

Ecc 9:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but [ God’s “predestinated” time [ befalls] them all.

As Eph 1:11 tells us, everything that happens, happens “after the counsel of… [ God’s] predestinated… will”, and this verse in Zechariah agrees with Eph 1:11, Job 1-2, and all the rest of scripture, which affirms that there is nothing that happens which is out of God’s preordained control.
Truly “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong”, rather it is “by my spirit saith the Lord of hosts… who works all things after the counsel of His own will”.

Zec 4:6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

King Solomon is obsessed with what happens to the physical works of one’s hands after death, and what he is telling us is that we are not in control of the future. Here is how the New Testament words this same message:

Jas 4:13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
Jas 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your [ physical] life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

That is the meaning and the true message of Ecc 9:11. We are all in God’s sovereign hands, and He is working every single detail of the lives of all men after the counsel of His own will. With this better understanding of verse 11 the next verse now logically follows:

Ecc 9:12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

This verse simply reiterates what we were told in chapter one:

Ecc 1:13 I applied my heart to inquiring and exploring by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens: it is an experience of evil Elohim has given to the sons of humanity to humble them by it. (CLV)

If this life is so purposeless as to be nothing more than “vanity and a vexation of spirit”, then why is God bothering to humble mankind with this “experience of evil”? The answer, of course is that this life of an “experience of evil” is but the necessary first step to a spiritual body and a life in the realm of the spirit, know as “the heavens”.

1Co 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
1Co 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
1Co 15:46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
1Co 15:47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
1Co 15:48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
1Co 15:49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
1Co 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

These next verses are simply not in sync with the spirit of “all is vanity and a vexation of spirit”. If indeed “wisdom is better than strength [ and] weapons of war” then what does it matter if “the poor man’s wisdom is despised” in this life?
Here now is something of which even the disillusioned King Solomon can say “it seemed great unto me”:

Ecc 9:13 This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me:
Ecc 9:14 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:
Ecc 9:15 Now 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.
Ecc 9:16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.

What is this “little city” comprised of “few men within it”? It is none other than the Old Testament type and shadow of the “few chosen” who make up the “New Jerusalem”? Who is this “poor wise man [ who] by his wisdom delivered the city”, and whose words to this very day “are not heard”? This truly should “seem great unto [ us all]”, because this is a perfect Biblical description of Christ, and His Christ, who has indeed delivered His elect, ” nevertheless [ His] wisdom is despised and His words are not heard… unto this day”.

Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
2Co 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
Rev 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Rev 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Truly “wisdom is better than strength”, because the strength of the flesh in this age is the enemy of the wisdom of Christ and His Christ. The wisdom of the chief priests and the Pharisees was to destroy their own savior, and by the Father Himself, they were given the power to do so. “Nevertheless the poor man’s… despised… wisdom… except a corn of wheat fall into the ground it abides alone, but if it die it brings forth much fruit” will, at the appointed time, prevail over all the strength of all the chief priests and Pharisees of all time.

Joh 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
Joh 11:57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

This is not the time for “the words of a poor wise man” to be heard by the masses. This is the time for “the poor man’s wisdom [ to be] despised, and his words are not heard. This is the time for the “few men in… [ the] little city… [ of] New Jerusalem [ to be] hated of all men”.

Mat 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

But until “the end” these words are how it is:

Ecc 9:17 The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.
Ecc 9:18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.

For now, the “few chosen” are, and will continue to be “hated of all men for [ Christ’s] name’s sake”. But “he that overcometh [ and] endureth to the end shall be saved… and shall rule the world… [ and] angels”.

1Co 6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
1Co 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
1Co 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
1Co 6:4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.

The holy spirit is telling us that “the least esteemed in the church… a poor, wise man” are more qualified to be counselors and judges than those who are the wise of this world. It is the rebellious, carnal mind of “one sinner” within us, with its already made up “idols of the heart” (Eze 14:1-9) which refuses the Godly counsel of “a poor wise man”, and who seeks to the counselors of this world instead of seeking to “the mind of Christ”.

Ecc 9:16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.

Next week, if the Lord wills, we will see clearly the need to be sober, and diligent in listening to every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Ecc 10:1 Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.
Ecc 10:2 A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.
Ecc 10:3 Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool.
Ecc 10:4 If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences.
Ecc 10:5 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the ruler:
Ecc 10:6 Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place.
Ecc 10:7 I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.
Ecc 10:8 He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.
Ecc 10:9 Whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby.
Ecc 10:10 If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.

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