Back in 1925 the Italian Freighter, Ignazio Florio, was sinking in the Atlantic Ocean. To the rescue came the United States Liner, President Harding. But the sea was too rough and the ship was in such distress that they could not get a line aboard her. Thus, the boat’s crew had to take a lifeboat over the giant waves and save the thirty-eight men aboard the Italian Freighter. The first American sailor to volunteer for the dangerous mission was Salvatore Bracco. And the mission was a huge success. Salvatore Bracco was awarded five medals and an illuminated scroll describing his heroism, handed to him from the hands of Mussolini himself.
Then, in January of 1929, another Italian ship, the Florida, was foundering off the Virginia Capes, and once again another United States Liner, America, came to help. And again the first person to respond was Salvatore Bracco, and once again the rescue mission was a success. He once again received many honors for his heroism. From New York to his home town of Union City, New Jersey they threw a party for him. He received the congressional medal of honor from the United States government. He received several other American medals and two more from Italy for what he did in saving the lives of others and risking his own.
But soon after that the world forgot about Salvatore Bracco. He developed a heart condition that prevented him from going out to sea anymore, a job he loved. He could not find any work on land for himself. Thus, his savings quickly vanished. The crowds that once cheered for him and welcomed him with open arms now paid no attention to him. His wife and son were starving. He had to go on relief. And this hero, the one that saved the lives of many, the one who received 15 medals, was now living on seven and one-half dollars per week! When he died he once again received many honors, but once again the sacrifice that this man gave, was quickly forgotten.
When we read of such a story we think of it as being tragic, and it is. But think about this for a minute, if it were not for me reading you this story, would you have been aware of the sacrifice made by this man, the lives he saved? Probably not! And this story is not limited to just one man, but has been repeated over and over again throughout history.
The main reason I brought this story up, is it deals with our topic this morning. Solomon, in Ecclesiastes chapter 9, is going to be speaking of a similar situation that he saw, which made him see the emptiness of life no matter what you do “under the sun” or apart from God. And so this morning lets begin reading in verse 13 of Ecclesiastes chapter 9.
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. Then I said: “Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, And his words are not heard.”
Now we are not sure who Solomon is speaking of, but the events he saw take place troubled him. There was a small, seemingly insignificant city, not to many people and surely not able to defend itself from any hostile enemies. Now there was a powerful king who didn’t care how big or how small a city was, he wanted it for himself. And so he began to attack this helpless city to make it his own.
Now in this city was a poor but wise man. And yet he was able to come up with a plan to defeat this enemy, not by force but by using his wisdom. And his plan worked beautifully, the city was saved, and I’m sure huge celebrations took place for this cities newest hero. But as quickly as his fame came, it went. The people forgot about all he had done for them and life continued on like nothing happened. No longer did he receive honor, no longer did they appreciate the work he had done for them, for saving them from this powerful king.
Now this event, sometime in the life of Solomon, he saw take place, it was real. There is also another event that is real, and carries with it spiritual truth that is very important to us. And that is what we are going to focus on for the remainder of our time this morning – OUR DELIVERER!
…Salvatore Bracco risked his life to save a few men. Jesus gave His life to save the world! A world that was against Him. Don’t forget that truth. Proclaim the message! If you don’t, as Jesus said, and I’ll paraphrase, “The rocks and stones themselves would begin to cry out!” The truth will never be extinguished or completely forgotten!