There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siegeworks against it. Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembers the poor man.Ecclesiastes 9:14-15
There is no record of this event elsewhere in Scripture. Perhaps Solomon, the greatest king of his day, heard of this from a delegation from some other country. It may be that he was slightly confused about an incident recorded in 2 Samuel 20 that did happen, probably when he was a boy. King David sent his general, Joab, to capture a traitor named Sheba who had taken refuge in a small city in northern Israel. Joab set his army around the city, built siegeworks against it, and was ready to knock down its walls and capture it when a wise woman called out to him from the walls and suggested that the leaders of the city throw the traitor's head out to Joab. They did so and thus saved the city. Perhaps that is what Solomon is referring to here. Regardless of Solomon's source, he presents an important lesson here.
God's wisdom can turn what looks like sure defeat into victory, although His wisdom may not even be remembered; it may even be popularly rejected. That is what verse 16 implies:
So I said, 'Wisdom is better than strength.' But popular rejection is no sign that something is wrong or ineffective. We have to remember today that the world will never applaud the basic truth of the Christian faith because Christianity judges the world, points out its error, and exposes its illusions; it humbles it. The world cannot take that. So we can expect that the wisdom that we are learning from God will not necessarily be popular. Nevertheless, it is that which can deliver, that which can free.
What is this wisdom we are talking about? All through this book we have been looking at wisdom versus foolishness, and in this section there is a great contrast drawn between them. Wisdom is to act upon the revelation of reality that the Scriptures give us; wisdom refers to actions that are controlled by the revelation of God. In Romans 12:2 Paul says,
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world [do not run after all the attractive, illusive dreams shouted at you constantly by the world], but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Think Christianly about life! Look at what you are going through, not from the standpoint of what seems right but upon what is right according to the Word of God. Here is true wisdom:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Lord, You provide me with the wisdom that frees, though many reject it because it does not always make sense by the world's standards. Renew my mind each day by the wisdom found in your word, through Your Spirit.
Real wisdom is the application of the knowledge & freedom contained in God's word. Do we lean on our own understanding or simply seek to know the Reality revealed?