|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:13-18 A man may, by his wisdom, bring to pass that which he could never do by his strength. If God be for us, who can be against us, or stand before us? Solomon observes the power of wisdom, though it may labour under outward disadvantages. How forcible are right words! But wise and good men must often content themselves with the satisfaction of having done good, or, at least, endeavoured to do it, when they cannot do the good they would, nor have the praise they should. How many of the good gifts, both of nature and Providence, does one sinner destroy and make waste! He who destroys his own soul destroys much good. One sinner may draw many into his destroying ways. See who are the friends and enemies of a kingdom or a family, if one saint does much good, and one sinner destroys much good.
Verse 16. - Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength. The latter part of the verse is not a correction of the former, but the whole comes under the observation introduced by "I said." The story just related leads to this assertion, which reproduces the gnome of Ecclesiastes 7:19, wherein it is asserted that wisdom effects more than mere physical strength. There is an interpolation in the Old Latin Version of Wisd. 6. I which seems to have been compiled from this passage and Proverbs 16:13, "Melter est sapientia quam vires, et vir prudens quam fortis." Nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, etc. In the instance above mentioned the poor man's wisdom was not despised and his words were heard and attended to; but this was an abnormal case, occasioned by the extremity of the peril. Koheleth states the result which usually attends wisdom emanating from a disesteemed source. The experience of Ben-Sire pointed to the same issue (see Ecclus. 13:22, 23). Horace, 'Epist.,' 1:1.57 -
"Est animus tibi, sunt mores et lingua fidesque,
Sed quadringentis sex septem millia desunt;
"In wit, worth, honor, one in vain abounds;
If of the knight's estate he lack ten pounds,
He's low, quite low!"
(Howes.) Is not this the carpenter's Son? asked the people who were offended at Christ (Mark 6:2, 3).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then said I, wisdom is better than strength,.... Wisdom of mind, even in a poor man, is better than strength of body, even of the, most potent prince and powerful army, as may be concluded from the above instance; since the poor wise man could do more by his wisdom than the great king with his mighty army; who was obliged to break up the siege, in consequence of the counsel given, or the methods directed to, or taken, by the poor man;
nevertheless, the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard; notwithstanding such a flagrant instance and example as this just mentioned; yet men still retain their prejudices against a poor man, and despise his wise counsels and advice, for no other reason but because he is poor, and will not attend to what he says: or, "though the poor man's wisdom", &c. (k), as Aben Ezra; Solomon drew the above conclusion from that instance; though this is usually the case, that men despise the wisdom of a poor man, and will not listen to his advice, this did not lessen the wise man's opinion of it. The words may be rendered, "even the poor man's wisdom despised, and his words not heard" (l); these are better than outward force and strength, and more serviceable and useful; which the Septuagint version favours: the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "how is the poor man's wisdom despised!" &c. as wondering at it that so it should be, when so much profit and advantage arose to the city from it.
(k) "quamvis sapientia", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Gejerus, Amama; "etsi", Drusius. (l) "Et pauperis sapientiam contemptam", &c. Tigurine version.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16. Resuming the sentiment (Ec 7:19; Pr 21:22; 24:5).
poor man's wisdom is despised—not the poor man mentioned in Ec 9:15; for his wisdom could not have saved the city, had "his words not been heard"; but poor men in general. So Paul (Ac 27:11).
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