Ecclesiastes 10: Solomon’s examples of Wisdom
July 2, 2012, 2:53 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

1 Dead flies (flies of death) cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.

Just as one fly can ruin a whole batch of perfume, an act of foolishness can destroy a life of wisdom.

Wisdom Can Be Nullified By the Whim or Impulsive Act of Rulers (2-7)

2 A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.

When we read that a wise man’s heart is at his right hand, in the ancient Jewish world, that implies that a wise man’s heart is at a place of honor and favor, and since left handed people were considered children of Satan, most people used their right hands with more precision and power than their left.  A fool is pictured as being “left hearted” which leaves him more vulnerable to sin and foolish acts.

3 Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool.

A foolish person lives foolishly, showing everyone that he is living life by his principles and not God’s.

 4 If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences.

When a ruler’s anger flares up, calmly response and everything may smooth over.

5 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from (before) the ruler:

Rulers can make bad judgments and those decisions or judgments have great and far-reaching consequences. 

6 Folly is set in great (heights) dignity, and the rich sit in low place.

In life, things aren’t always what we think they should be.  Fools are placed in many positions of authority, while rich (in wisdom) often have positions of serving.  God is still in control and He works His good purposes through events and circumstances that we don’t understand.

7 I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.

Solomon notes that in his search for wisdom, he has seen a reversal of the normal roles of those better suited to be servants and those better suited to be leaders.  This reversal in ancient Middle East society, was considered to be an outrage against society.

Wisdom is Needed to Avert Dangers in Everyday Life (8-11)

8 He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.

Life is full of uncertainties.  Nothing is a sure thing.  Every against has consequences and once in motion, we can’t change the consequences.

9 Whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby.

When we work, we are subject to certain dangers relating to that work.  For example, one who works in a quarry, may be crushed by a stone or one who splits longs, can be cut.

10 If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.

When an ax gets dull, a wise man will sharpen it.  If he doesn’t, he will have to work harder.  Using wisdom when faced with decisions, usually produces a good outcome, even if it is different than what we planned.

11 Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler (the master of the tongue) is no better.

If a snake bites before it is charmed, the snake charmer is in trouble, therefore, if we don’t used wisdom or our skills, we are wasting God-given abilities.

Words and Works of Wise Men and Fools (12-15)

12 The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious (grace); but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.

A wise man’s words will win his favor, but a fools words are self-destructive.  But it may take time.

13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk (his mouth) is mischievous madness.

It is the inability of the fool to choose his words carefully that will bring about his own destruction.

14 A fool also is full (multiplieth) of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?

Fools keep on talking, even about things they have no knowledge about. 

15 The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city.

If a fool can’t find his way to town, how can they find God?  Why trust a fool when he talks about God or anything spiritual?

The Problem with Foolish Rulers (16-20)

16 Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!

Wisdom tells us that leaders who lack experience lose control over the areas of their responsibility and/or spend all their time partying into the early morning or enjoying activities other than fulfilling the duties of leadership.

17 Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!

Godly leaders have a sense of responsibility and Useful nobility expresses itself in a sense of responsibility and respect to social order. This verse is an argument for correct behavior characterized by self-control.

18 By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.

Houses fall because of laziness.  The pursuit of a personal relationship with God takes energy and time that lazy people won’t invest.  Disciplining others also takes energy and time that we often replace with rules and restrictions.

  19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.

The partying king of verse 16, thinks he can fix all the disasters of of his inept reign by raising taxes.

20 Curse not the king, no not in thy thought ; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.

We should watch what we say, for we never know who is listening.




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