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Copyright © 2011, by the Sunday School Publishing Board. 330 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee 37201-1188. E-mail: • Web site:

Fall Quarter 2011­ Unit I. Teaching and Learning

Lesson 6—October 9, 2011 DEVOTIONAL READING: Psalm 33:13-22 BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: Ecclesiastes 9:13–10:20 PRINT PASSAGE: Ecclesiastes 9:13-18

Key Verse­—So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded (Ecclesiastes 9:16, NIV). .....

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

Subversive Wisdom

Teacher’s Resource Kit • SSPB Commentary: Teacher’s Edition • SSPB Commentary Workbook • SSPB Flashlight Commentary • Faith Pathway— Bible Studies for Adults • Faith Journey— Bible Studies for Young Adults

Lesson Aims

As a result of studying this lesson, the participants: • Will know the story of a wise but poor person who delivered a city. • Will be able to demonstrate the ways in which wisdom is superior to force. • Will be able to seek and search for the great value of wisdom by asking God for it.

Key Terms

Besieged (Hebrew: cabab [saw-bab’]) (verse 14)—to compass; to turn, turn about or around or aside or back or towards, go about or around, surround, encircle, change direction. Great (Hebrew: gadowl [gaw-dole’]) (verse 13)—to be mighty; important; a great man; God Himself. Quiet (Hebrew: nachath [nakh’-ath]) (verse 17)—to rest; quietness; a quiet attitude. Remembered (Hebrew: zakar [zaw-kar’]) (verse 15)—to recall or call to mind; to be mindful; to think. Weapons (Hebrew: keliy [kel-ee’]) (verse 18)—an armour bearer; a vessel; an object; utensil or apparatus. Wisdom (Hebrew: chokmah [khok-maw’]) (Ecclesiastes 9:13)—wits, wisely; skillful man; prudence.

Preparing the Lesson

• Refer to the Townsend Press SS Commentary Teacher’s Edition for an additional lesson plan—with word studies, insights on teaching adults, learner matrices, etc. • Review last week’s student assignments (“Your Life” and “Your World!”). • This guide offers two options for leading your class. • Thoroughly review your student book for your adult or young adult class. 3   FAITH Series Teacher’s Guide

• See page 8 for how to plan each week’s lesson. • See page 6 for a student Personal Growth Plan. • See page 10 for the Faith in 3-D as it explains how each lesson seeks to equip believers to live out their faith in the world.

Why This Lesson Matters People are drawn in by loud voices that make an impression, even though these voices lack true wisdom. In fact, there are persons who may “sound” intelligent and may appear to “know” what they are saying; however, a close analysis of their statements would reveal “subversive” wisdom. The question that challenges us is this: To whom should we listen? We learn from the book of Ecclesiastes that we should not ignore the quiet, thoughtful words of the wise.

The Lesson in Focus Perhaps you have experienced buying a new car and examining the location of the lights, windshield wipers, air-conditioner controls, and CD player and thought that everything was fine until something went wrong with the car. You immediately look for your owner’s manual to identify and resolve the problem. It is possible to try to navigate throughout life without God’s wisdom and guidance, but God is the source of wisdom and translates His wisdom to us through His Word. The Bible is our owner’s manual and was written to guide us through life, helping us not only to identify problems and solutions, but also to prevent problems and issues from happening in our lives.

The Lesson in Context The author of the book of Ecclesiastes is often identified as Solomon. We know that according to Ecclesiastes 1:1, the author is identified as a son of David; we know that he had unparalleled wisdom, wealth, and extensive building projects. These facts all point to Solomon—for no other son of David had such a distinction.    The Hebrew word used in the book of Ecclesiastes, qoheleth, means “one who speaks in a group or an assembly, or an Ecclesiastic or preacher.” The Greek equivalent, Ecclesiastes, also means “preacher” and is derived from the word assembly. The central message of the book of Ecclesiastes is that one life is singular, full of paradoxes and therefore is vanity, as the author concluded. However, recognizing that all life comes from God, life is to be enjoyed and in order to fully enjoy life, we need to walk in wisdom and understand the fact that God is the ultimate judge for all humans. 4   FAITH Series Teacher’s Guide

Opening Inquiry (Choose from the questions below)

1. In Ecclesiastes 9:13-16, the preacher derives two morals from the example story. What are they? 2. How does the first pair of proverbs in verses 17-18 correspond with the preceding example story? 3. What themes are similar? Do they agree or take issue with the story? Why doesn’t wisdom win out?


As Christians, we wrestle with the contradictions and paradoxes of life and we are sometimes discouraged when our faith is shaken or tested by the day-to-day problems and stresses of life. Faith continues to seek understanding; we can be brought to a situation because of a crisis of belief, where we must believe in believing and we must have faith in faith. This actually strengthens us to a place where if we will lean on and trust God completely, then we will see that God’s will is ultimately for our good.


In reference to the book of Ecclesiastes, the Amplified Bible states that the purpose of this book is to investigate life as a whole and to teach that in the final analysis life is meaningless without proper respect and reverence for God. In the end, faith should teach humankind that God has ordered all things according to His purpose.


I. The Picture (Ecclesiastes 9:13-15)


13 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: 14 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. 15 Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man.


13 This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me: 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: 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. Picture a city that was attacked by a powerful king. The example of wisdom portrayed in verse 13 was observed by the author in many other instances. He was asserting that his observation was that the situation was an effect or a result of wisdom. In verse 14, the author referred to a city in a parable form, an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Probing the word parable, para means “alongside” and, therefore, a parable is a story that is placed alongside truth. It speaks of a man in the city who was wise, but because he was poor, his effort and contribution to the situation were easily forgotten. The whole point of the story identifies with the theme that runs prevalent throughout the book of Ecclesiastes—that of “vanity.” All of the efforts, work, and striving eventually end up meaning nothing. John Vernon McGee points out that wisdom is another name for Christ and that Christ came to the world as wisdom to save and deliver humankind, as did this man in the book of Ecclesiastes. Jesus came to the earth in poverty, and He said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20, NIV).

DISCUSSION STARTERS (Please review the appropriate student book’s related biblical exposition section.) • Faith Pathway (Adult) Question: We have heard the statement, “Wise beyond their years.” Would the writer’s parable have been believable if it had been about a child? Discuss our perceptions of age and wisdom. • Faith Journey (Young Adult) Question: What kinds of “hopeless” situations have you faced in your lifetime? Why have you deemed those situations as hopeless? How and where did you ultimately find help? Planning Notes: ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________

II. The Principle (Ecclesiastes 9:16)


16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded. 5   FAITH Series Teacher’s Guide


16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. The thesis that wisdom is better than strength is shown in the illustration. However, there is a contrast and a paradox because it says, “The poor man’s wisdom is despised”—because people are generally vain and foolish and place greater value on outer signs of wealth than upon wisdom, which is more internal. The implication of this verse is clear; in fact, we see this dynamic being played out daily in our society. People who may have limited name recognition are discounted when it comes to giving interviews to the press or being invited to speak at high school or college/university graduations. The focus is usually on those persons who have accomplished “much” according to society’s estimation of what “much” is. Persons with limited resources and nonexistent societal accomplishments are ignored and overlooked. Such a state of affairs also exists in many of our churches. The persons whose words carry a lot of weight (perhaps in a business meeting) are those who are the “big givers” or who have an impressive “church-related” resume`. The joy of this entire experience is that God does not deal with humanity according to the world’s scheme of things.


(Please review the appropriate student book’s related biblical exposition section.) • Faith Pathway (Adult) Question: In the book of Ecclesiastes, the writer did not offer solutions but posed penetrating questions. Why is society more interested in answers than questions? • Faith Journey (Young Adult) Question: Have you ever experienced a situation where you did your best to do a noteworthy job but no one remembered you? Has it happened to someone you know? Planning Notes: ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________

III. The Triumph (Ecclesiastes 9:17-18)


17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.

18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

KJV 17 The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools. 18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good. Eventually, wisdom will win out and overcome the voice of foolishness, as did Jesus’ voice. He who was despised, rejected, and silenced (see Isaiah 53:3-5) still has His voice echoing through the corridors of time. The prophetic word is this: He shall return with the sound of the trumpet and the voice of an archangel. And “every knee shall bow” (Romans 14:11, KJV), and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord of all. Therefore, even though wisdom is temporarily silenced and often it is despised and refused, it shall ultimately be recognized. Verse 18 reads, “Wisdom is better than weapons of war.” The “weapons of war” refer to the power of arms, strength, and might. The remainder of the verse reads, “One sinner destroys much good.” The “sinner” is a reference to a fool, and such a person destroys much good by his/her work, counsel, conduct, and conversation.

DISCUSSION STARTERS (Please review the appropriate student book’s related biblical exposition section.) • Faith Pathway (Adult) Question: One of the reasons why Hitler was so successful was that he specialized in telling big lies—the bigger the better. Do you think our society prefers to hear “big lies” rather than the “small truth”? Consider our lesson in your discussion. • Faith Journey (Young Adult) Question: Have you ever judged a person by his or her outer appearance, only to find out later that you were mistaken?

Closing Prayer

Planning Notes: _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________

Life Application • Refer to Faith Pathway (Adult) Book (See student lesson’s “Your Life” section.)  Why, at times, are we more concerned with the messenger instead of the message? Identify a time when this was true in your life. What steps will you take now to ensure that you will focus on the message instead of the messenger? (See student lesson’s “Your World” section.)  This week, share your personal testimony of how you were able to overcome cynicism about life in your experiences. Show how trust in God can provide answers to the times when you may feel as if life is not fair. • Refer to Faith Journey (Young Adult) Book (See student lesson’s “Your Life” section.)  Should I join this civic group? Should I seek another “title”? Would more degrees enhance my standing with my society? Is it all worth it? (See student lesson’s “Your World!” section.)  Back in Jesus’ day, the Pharisees would “fast” on Mondays and Thursdays. And since the Pharisees had a special dress code for fasting, they would get more recognition. How do persons today use similar tactics to show their “higher spirituality”?

Next Week’s Lesson The lesson topic for Sunday, October 16, 2011, is “Life Worth Living.” The Devotional Reading is taken from Psalm 71:1-12, the Background Scripture is taken from Ecclesiastes 11:7–12:14, and the Printed Text is taken from Ecclesiastes 11:9-10; 12:1-7, 13.

Lord, it is our desire to serve You and be obedient to Your Word by adhering to the wisdom of Your Word. We are grateful that You not only acknowledge our service to You, but in it You take great delight. Our prayer is that we would emulate Your wisdom, utilizing it in all we do. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

6   FAITH Series Teacher’s Guide

INTERACTIVE LEARNING APPROACH YOUNG ADULT FOCUS This lesson plan is designed to provide a more interactive approach to the teaching of today’s lesson. The focus is on student-teacher involvement. It can be formulated to use with the Faith Journey—Bible Studies for Young Adults quarterly.

• What is meant by the following: “As God speaks in the still, small voice, coming from unexpected places, so wisdom may be heard in those among us who are considered insignificant: the very young and the very old, the poor and disenfranchised”?

Interaction—Introducing the Lesson (10 minutes)

Life Application (10 minutes)

• As you begin today’s lesson, introduce this week’s topic (“Subversive Wisdom”) and briefly recap last week’s lesson. Ask for volunteers to stand and recite from memory Proverbs 29:25. • Ask for a volunteer to recall the story of Cinderella. If necessary, ask others to fill in missing gaps to the story. • Read the “Life Happens” section on page 33 of the student book. Ask the students to share testimonies of when they had a Cinderella moment where they were about to see God’s strength made perfect.

• Read the “Your Life” section on page 37 of the student book. Encourage the students to think about people or places where wisdom was present yet rejected because of who or where it came from. • Invite the students to ask God for forgiveness for rejecting His wisdom and ask for humility to receive wisdom from whatever the source. Encourage the students to consider how they will move forward in receiving wisdom, even as it comes from unlikely people and places.

Exploring the Word (25 minutes)

Life Response (5 minutes)

• Divide the class into groups of 3-4 students and ask them to come up with a modern-day skit to highlight the subversive wisdom found in Ecclesiastes 9:13-18. Have the groups act it out in front of the larger group and discuss what lessons can be derived from the skits. • Look back at the printed passage and discuss the themes present. Refer to the “What Do You Think?” questions to aid in the discussion.

• Read the “Your World!” section of the student book and have the students write specific steps to ensure that their actions as believers are designed to impress God and not people. • Remind the students to prepare for next week’s lesson. In preparing for next week, ask the students to bring in a picture from their youth when they were joyful without the cares of the world upon their shoulders.

Home Daily Bible Readings MONDAY, October 10: TUESDAY, October 11: WEDNESDAY, October 12: THURSDAY, October 13: FRIDAY, October 14: SATURDAY, October 15: SUNDAY, October 16:

7   FAITH Series Teacher’s Guide

“Do Not Forsake Me” “Nothing New under the Sun?” “Nothing to Be Gained?” “Toiling for the Wind?” “Everything Has Its Time” “Ignorance of God’s Work” “Remember Your Creator”

(Psalm 71:1-12) (Ecclesiastes 1:1-11) (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11) (Ecclesiastes 5:10-20) (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) (Ecclesiastes 11:1-8) (Ecclesiastes 11:9–12:7, 13)

SSPB Teacher Guide 2011  

SSPB Teacher Guide 2011

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