Brian W. Davidson

sharing things I enjoy

Everyone wants to be wise. The problem is that pursuing wisdom apart from God can lead to disaster. That is part of what went wrong in the garden. Genesis 3:6 says,
ותרא האשׁה כי … נחמד העץ להשׂכל … ויאכל

When the woman saw that eating from the tree was (among other things) able to make her wise, she stepped out from under the word of God and ate.

Reflecting on the pursuit of wisdom east of Eden, Ecclesiastes 7:16 says,

אל תתחכם יותר למה תשׁומם

Paraphrasing, “Don’t be overly anxious to be wise. Why should you be disappointed?”* The LXX renders it even more sharply:

μη σοφιζου περισσα, μηποτε εκπλαγης

Again, paraphrasing, “Don’t be overly anxious to be wise, lest you drive yourself mad.” Ecclesiastes recognizes that “there is no one on earth who is righteous, who does good and does not sin” (7:20) and that this condition affects even our pursuit of good things.

We long for perfection, but it is out of our reach. Perfect wisdom is the prerogative of one (Romans 16:27). Nevertheless, we are not without hope. Foundational to Christian hope is the confidence that Jesus will come back and set things straight. Yes, preacher, at the moment “that which has been made crooked cannot be made straight” (Ecclesiastes 1:15), but there is coming a day when “I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5) will be rendered in the past tense. In the meantime, we have the good book, the church, and the promise of Immanuel (Matthew 1:23; 28:20; Luke 11:13; James 1:5).



* On the translation of תשׁומם as “be disappointed” see the NET notes. They argue convincingly for this translation, rather than “ruin yourself” or “destroy yourself.” They say, “In the Hitpolel stem the root שׁמם never means this . . .”