TRUE APPRECIATION & REWARDS will come from GOD ALONE: "This wisdom I have also seen under the sun and it seemed great to me: There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man." (Eccl. 9:13-15)
During the course of venting his feelings about the lack of appreciation that this world bestows towards people with wisdom, King Solomon (“The Preacher”) illustrates his thoughts through a parable that describes how an unstoppable military operation against a small city was prevented by the wisdom of one poor unnamed wise man. One of the conclusions of this parable is that wisdom should be preferred over brute strength and should be heeded (v. 15). This is because the wise strategy from the poor man saved the city that was under siege by a mighty king who was trying to take control with the help of his superior army strength.
It is so true that "wisdom strengthens the wise more than ten rulers of the city" (Eccl. 7:19). On the other hand "a wise man scales the city of the mighty, and brings down the trusted stronghold" (Prov. 21:22). We can trust the following statement: "A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength; for by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety" (Prov. 24:5-6).
There is another conclusion that can be drawn from this parable: wisdom is not always appreciated or remembered for long. Even though wisdom is better than strength and power, yet the poor man’s advice was subsequently despised (v. 16). As soon as the crisis was past, no one was interested in what he had to say. For some fleeting moments the poor man was a hero, but then he was quickly forgotten. The people of this world are vain because they forget the good deeds of the wise man as they earlier forgot the evil done by the wicked (8:10). We should therefore not be surprised if wisdom does not always receive its due reward here under the sun even though people have benefited greatly from it (v. 15).
There is a true story very similar to the parable in the second book of Samuel chapter 20 where Joab, the commander of King David’s army, was chasing after a rebel leader called Sheba in order to kill him. However, Sheba took refuge in a city called Abel which was walled and heavily fortified. So, Joab’s army tried to break down the wall, enter the city and destroy all its inhabitants along with Sheba (2 Sam. 20:15). In that city lived a wise woman who intervened and spoke sense to Joab by requesting him to hold-off from breaking down the wall and destroying all the people. This is what happened next: "Then the woman in her wisdom went to all the people. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. Then he blew a trumpet, and they withdrew from the city, every man to his tent. So Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem" (2 Sam 20:22). Just as the parable, we do not read anywhere that this wise woman was ever rewarded for her wise counsel in saving the city from total annihilation!
The story again teaches us that in spite of the value of wisdom, it often goes unheeded. The poor wise man (in the parable) and the wise woman (in the story) gave extraordinary help but both were eventually despises, rejected, and ultimately forgotten just like our Lord Jesus Christ upon this earth. The patriarch Joseph had a similar experience in the prison when he had requested the chief butler to petition him before Pharaoh after interpreting his dream correctly. However, we read the following: "Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him" (Gen. 40:23).