One thing leads to another, swords are drawn, and a duel ensues. Arthur bests the Black Knight, severing limb after limb, the knight’s body spouting out fake blood. The whole battle is ridiculous. But the Black Knight exclaims, “I’m invincible!” To which Arthur replies, “You’re a loony,” and continues to hack away at the Black Knight.
Okay, so the scene isn’t as funny when it’s typed out… If you’ve seen the movie before, you’re probably chuckling. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re probably ready to turn me in to a mental health facility.
But that scene reminds me of myself. I think I’m completely invincible – until I meet a formidable opponent. Then I am completely vincible. I can take every precaution to protect myself and my family. But bad things can still happen.
Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 10, reminds us that wisdom itself is not invincible. Wisdom and righteousness go hand in hand, and both can be corrupted more easily than we realize.
As dead flies give perfume a bad smell,
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. (10:1)
Whoever digs a pit may fall into it;
whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.
Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them;
whoever splits logs may be endangered by them. (10:8-9)
Through laziness, the rafters sag;
because of idle hands, the house leaks. (10:18)
These are proverbs about the vulnerability of wisdom. Sometimes wisdom is corrupted through no real fault of our own. Flies are drawn to the sweet smell of perfume, but once they’re in it they can’t fly off. The stink of the dead flies begins to overpower the fragrance of the oils. A little folly can end up overpowering much wisdom and honor simply because fools can be drawn to the wise.
Sometimes we overprotect our wisdom and righteousness to the point that we begin to feel arrogant. Think about it. In 10:8-9, ditch diggers, construction workers, quarry-men, and lumber jacks are all professionals. They may have been splitting logs their entire lives. One day they feel over confident, have a momentary lapse in judgment or safety, and BOOM, an accident leaves them crippled and helpless.
Even when we’re alert and keeping watch, Satan is just waiting for that one instance in which we let down our guard. He knows the weak point, and he is just waiting to exploit it.
And then there are times that we just stop caring or trying. There is a house at the end of the street that has been vacant for at least the last two years. It still looks okay from the outside, but who knows what kind of damage is being done inside the walls. Houses tend to deteriorate more quickly when there’s no one living in them.
How many of us have gotten to the point in our faith journey that we just feel like settling down and relaxing a bit? We feel like we’ve done enough for now. We’re pretty good people. We go to church. We sing the songs. We put our money in the plate. We look good on the outside. But is anybody home? Our bodies are supposed to house the Spirit of God, and yet in our laziness we’ve let the house go unattended. And now the roof is leaking, allowing Satan’s lies and schemes to seep in through every crack and crevasse. Eventually a leaking roof leads to a crumbling foundation. And once the foundation goes, the house can’t stand much longer.
Wisdom can be corrupted. Righteousness can be tainted. If there is anything that Solomon wants us to learn in Ecclesiastes it’s that we must protect our lives. Keep watch. Stay alert. Protect the house.
You’re not invincible.