For wisdom is protection just as money is protection, but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors. Consider the work of God, for who is able to straighten what He has bent? In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other so that man will not discover anything that will be after him (Eccl 7.12-14).
Solomon certainly didn’t know anything about Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or Bear Stearns. But he did know something about economics and God’s sovereignty over it. These modern banks, brokerage houses and mortgage lenders are merely modern vehicles of ancient greed. Therefore, Solomon’s wisdom is as relevant on Wall Street today as it was on the King’s Highway then.
The “preacher” (see Eccl 1.1) understood that wisdom and money both provide a sort of protection. However, only wisdom provides true protection. Only wisdom (knowledge) preserves the life of those who have it. Of course, “life” cannot mean biological existence, but is the stuff of life: God-wrought happiness, joy, contentment. Lehman Brothers can go bankrupt, the dollar can shrivel up, interest rates can plummet, and those with godly wisdom remain “lively.”
But those who consider money as the ultimate protection against unhappiness suddenly find themselves fearful and paranoid. Their life is being drained away and their hope spirals down with the market. Savings accounts, 401(k)s, IRAs, stock options and pensions are powerless to preserve their life.
So why has Lehman Brothers failed after 158 years of business? Why does AIG need an $85 billion handout after 83 years of business? Solomon would tell us to “Consider the work of God.” While pundits offer their plethora of reasons for the crumbling of our economic pillars, we need only consult Scripture. God made them succeed and has now seen to their demise.
Why? So that man will not be so arrogant to think anything or anyone but Him controls the fates of men. He is the eternal One and can wipe away 158 years of hard-earned money with the stroke of a pen. Every empire and kingdom has fallen in all of history. Every economy has failed. But like those in Babel (Gen 11.1-9) or Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4.30), we think we’ve created the system that is invincible. And like those in Babel and Nebuchadnezzar we are finding God pull the Persian rug out from our bronze feet.
The apostle Peter wised up after his fireside debacle. He learned that there is only one invincible kingdom and money is no good there: Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about his calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you (2 Pt 1.11). I’d say that’s a great rate of return.