I’m about to tell you about a little city. It seemed small, but it was big enough to attract the attention of a great king.
We don’t know the name of this city. We don’t know the name of the people involved in the account. We don’t need to.
The names don’t matter. The following scripture can teach us some…
Little City Lessons
…that can help us learn important principles.
In Chapter Nine of Ecclesiastes, we see that:
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:
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 manEcclesiastes 9:14-15
In this account, a poor man saved a city. But this is more than a simple blip on scripture’s historical radar screen. The situation described in our text can teach us important lessons about life.
First, I want to draw your attention to the
The Little City.
This was a small city in terms of geographical area. It had a small population. People there probably thought they didn’t matter to anyone outside their walls.
No one has a reason to attack such a small city. Right?
You might think that no one has a reason to attack you.
Not so much!
At the moment that you feel at peace, someone will attack you. That’s what happened to this city.
Even if you feel small, you need to…
Recognize your enemy.
You have enemies, despite how insignificant you feel.
You did nothing to hurt anyone: Neither did this city.
Still, trouble came. For no apparent reason other than that it existed, an army came against this city.
If you’re on God’s side, your existence offends the world.
If you have received the New Birth, the world wants to take everything you have.
You ask too much if you want to go through life without adversaries.
Despite knowing that the city was small and powerless, the enemy came against this city with…
Look what happened: This was a small city, and a great king came against it.
Why would a great king bother such a little city? Why would he commit such massive force to squash such seemingly insignificant people?
I suppose that maybe the city had something or someone the king wanted. But, perhaps the king was a bully. He couldn’t rest, knowing that a city existed that wasn’t under his control.
That sounds like our world.
Big or small, your enemies will hunt you down. They will try to force to make you bow down to them. It’s easy to cave-in to the demands of others.
Historically, appeasement has never worked effectively to avoid conflict.
Like this city, conflict will find you.
Knowing this, God wants you to…
Prepare to resist.
The world has rules about where to go, what to do, what to wear and when you do things. If you don’t conform, they’ll arrest you. They’ll levy fines on you. They will seize your property.
Some people will try to harm or kill you, just because you aren’t like them. You share God’s values. You don’t bow to political correctness or social activism.
I’m telling you that, if you live for God, someone will attack you. Prepare for that. Don’t give fear the upper hand.
God wants you to stand your ground. Don’t give in.
Be not conformed to this world…Romans 12:2
Next, I encourage you to…
Recognize your value.
The city had no idea that a great king would attack them. They seemed complacent. Why bother building a defense if we’ll never need it. Right?
Maybe the people of the little city had precious resources that they didn’t recognize. They failed to see themselves from an outsider’s perspective.
Perhaps the city became too familiar with what they had and, over time, lost respect for it.
I was thinking… maybe the city wasn’t paying attention. They were unaware of their surroundings.
The great king caught them off-guard.
This reminds me of an account that Jesus told of a homeowner who would have prepared a defense if he had only known when the thief would come (Luke 12:39).
Like this city, you have value.
God created you in His likeness. He formed you in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), He loves you so much that He sent Jesus to die for you, to save you (Romans 5:8). He numbers the hairs of your head. He plans great things for you (Jeremiah 29:11).
You are important! What you do is important.
Regardless of whether you realize it, you are valuable. Greatness lies within you. The Bible says that we are earthen vessels that contain great treasure (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Next, I want you to notice…
The Great King vs the Little City.
The great king surprised the little city. They didn’t know they had such an adversary. Maybe the city realized they had an enemy, but misjudged his capabilities.
They had become preoccupied with their internal business, so they ignored external developments.
Jesus cautions us about how getting caught up in life can make us unaware of danger (Luke 21:34).
You might be like this city. You feel safe. You can handle every conceivable threat. When you least expect it, when you are least prepared, you may discover a formidable adversary that’s ready to destroy you.
Like this great king, Satan is looking for someone to pick on. He wants to devour you when you don’t expect it (1 Peter 5:8).
Apostle Paul preached the necessity of vigilance. He understood Satan’s tactics (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the prince and power of the air (Ephesians 2:2).
If you’ve accepted salvation, you’re in a war. You have powerful enemies. Here’s what the scripture says:
We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high placesEphesians 6:12
A powerful force wants to destroy you. Satan and the world want to make an example of you. They want everyone to see you defeated.
The Bible has excellent advice for you, in Proverbs Chapter Four:
Keep thy heart with all diligence…Proverbs 4:23
You must equip yourself with spiritual armour (Ephesians 6:13). Get your spiritual sword in hand.
Take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.Ephesians 6:13
Next, I want you to think about…
The poor man in the little city.
As social beings, people naturally build hierarchies. Most of the time, they want to have themselves at the top.
The battle of the “haves” versus the “have nots” has transcended the millennia and continues to this day.
The world’s standards,
If you don’t live in the “right” subdivision, drive the “right” car, wear the “right” clothes, know the “right” people, take the “right” vacations, and share the “right” beliefs, the “in crowd” will exclude you.
That’s how things were in this city. Despite its small size, they split the city into at least two classes: the rich and the poor.
As the siege began, I imagine that the city responded the way people do now. “Important” people comprised their power structure.
These people had credentials. They had social and political connections. They had money. They had positions of authority. They had “proper” educations.
But, when the great king came, everyone found out that the rulers didn’t really know anything. They had created their own value.
When the time came to solve a real-life problem, they didn’t know what to do.
Realizing their incompetence, they had to ask for help.
I think we see an episode of…
Crisis religion in the little city.
Have you ever known someone who didn’t care about God. Then, something unexpected and bad happens. Suddenly, that person wants to pray, go to church, and seek counsel.
When trouble came, the rulers of the little city had a similar response. They realized that they didn’t have answers. None of their cronies had answers. None of the people whose job it was to have answers actually had answers.
In desperation, the elites asked the poor wise man for advice.
You see, he had the wrong last name. Maybe he had some bad breaks in life. He wasn’t part of the “in” crowd. Ordinarily, he wasn’t worthy of their attention.
On every other day, literally, nobody cared what this man had to say.
Today, the elite crowd needed this poor man to save them.
Thanks to the poor man’s wisdom, the city survived.
The people of the little city
…refused to change their ways. After winning the battle, the little city reverted to business as usual.
The leaders went back to protecting their status. They quickly erased the poor man from their memory and their history books.
They needed to keep the poor man poor.
He saved their lives and their way of life, but they felt no debt to him.
They forgot about him. No fanfare. No reward. No memorial to the man who saved them.
Because a poor man saved a city, nobody made a big deal of the situation. They didn’t want a poor hero. He wasn’t the “right” person to save them. Their crisis religion didn’t make them thankful. It didn’t change their values. They had no change of heart.
As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.Proverbs 26:11
The city’s leadership went back to its old ways.
I want to ask you, do you think you can put yourself in the poor wise man’s shoes? From his perspective, I see…
Dashed hopes and disappointment.
The poor wise man finally had a chance to shine. He proved his worth. The enemy tested his mettle in the battle and he proved himself valiant, valuable, and worthy of honor.
He thought he finally could be part of the “in” crowd. Finally, he’d have the respect he deserves. He’d have the position in the city that he deserves.
It didn’t happen.
I know this poor man was wise. I wonder if the poor wise man regretted saving his city. The ingrates who despised him before despise him now. He got no credit. No reward. No benefits.
Not even a “Thank you.”
God has a simple message for you and me. Do things for the right reason. Act out of personal integrity. be true to yourself and God. Save the city because God wants you to do it.
Pure motives result in pure expectations.
Jesus has something to say regarding this. He speaks against those who work to gain standing in the community:
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.Matthew 6:1
People will let you down, but God won’t.
Thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.Matthew 6:4
Love the praise of God more than the praise of men (John 12:43).
As already noted, the experience of the little city and the poor wise man give us some…
Lessons to learn.
The Preacher of Ecclesiastes takes a moment to reflect on the little city’s lesson. He said,
Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.Ecclesiastes 9:16
Thousands of years later, human nature hasn’t changed. People in the world and church still despise the poor.
They ignore impressive accomplishments made by those whom they regard as the “wrong” people.
During crises, some people look for wisdom. After the poor man saves them, they revert to their old ways.
It happens in your family, on the job, at church, at school, in politics, in government, and in media.
If this has happened to you, I’m speaking to you right now.
I want you to consider…
Jesus, our example.
Listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah regarding our Savior:
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.Isaiah 53:3
Jesus doesn’t appeal to the flesh; He contradicts the world’s values.
God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;1 Corinthians 1:27
How should you…
to this story and its interpretation?
First, you should…
Understand your significance.
If you think you don’t matter, you’re setting up yourself for defeat.
God wants us to…
Respect the poor.
God has “chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him” (James 2:5).
But James rebukes the Church in the same scripture passage, saying, “Ye have despised the poor” (James 2:6)!
Next, I want you to…
Understand the world.
Our text exposes how the world behaves. The little city despised the poor man’s wisdom. Thousands of years later, the world operates the same way.
God wants you to transcend the world through His power. Let Jesus give you a fresh start. Live by God’s terms, not the world’s.
If you do, you’ll win every time, regardless of your life’s situation.
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.John 16:33
Finally, I exhort you to
Apply the lessons of the little city to your life. Remember, you are valuable. You have an enemy. Sometimes, the people who should be on your side aren’t.
Learn to depend on God for your strength, wisdom, and value.
I leave you with Nahum Chapter One, Verse Seven:
The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.Nahum 1:7