Does the Wise have a Benefit over the Fool?
“For what benefit has the wise over the fool? What has the poor who knows how to walk ahead of the living?”
So, what does the wise have over the fool? He has much in this life and arguably with the next. Rather than seeing this couplet as a parallel restating of the previous part, it behooves us to see this couplet more as a rhetorical question asked and answered. So, what advantage has the wise man over the fool (remembering that the fool says there is no God — Psalm 53:1)? He has the same advantage as the poor man who knows how to walk in a role of leadership (walking in front of means that you are leading others). Though he is poor, he provides more value to the world than the one who is a rich fool — infinitely more value.
Too often we westerners are taught to assume that wealth equates with wisdom and the blessing of God. Indeed, it does not. Often, wealth becomes a stumbling block for those who have it and for those around them (because we are often drawn to covet what our neighbors have). No, Solomon is making it clear that though we go to the same place in death, the wise man, regardless of his poverty, has great advantage in life and in death over the foolish man who is consumed by his wealth. Be careful as to what you choose to value.