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Practical Advice Touching Life’s Puzzles
1-8. Cultivate wisdom and tact, specially in the dangers that attend upon courts, but also in ordinary operations.
1. Dead flies, etc.] This v. really belongs to the end of Ecclesiastes 9. As a few of the poisonous flies abounding in hot countries would render valueless a whole jar of perfume, so a man by a slight admixture of error may render nugatory much of his own skilful or upright conduct.
2. At his right hand.. left] A wise man’s mind directs him to appropriate conduct. A fool is sure to do the wrong thing. He is gauche.
3. Saith to every one] He advertises his folly by his speech.
4. The advice of Ecclesiastes 8:3 is repeated. St. Peter (1 Peter 2:20-23) is able to add to the same precept a new and inspiring motive. Yielding pacifieth great offences] RM ’gentleness leaveth great sins undone’: both sides will be saved from committing serious misdeeds.
6, 7. He hints that through the ruler’s error of judgment, as he gently puts it, the wrong people have received promotion.
8, 9. Prudence is needed in many applications. Otherwise you may dig a pit to entrap your enemy, and then fall into it yourself; or, in pulling down a fence, if you are not heedful, one of the serpents lodging in the crannies may bite you. Similarly the quarrying of stones and the felling of timber call for watchfulness.
10. If you are not wise enough to act with tactful sagacity, you must compensate for this by extra force.
11. RV ’If the serpent bite before it be charmed, then is there no advantage in the charmer.’ The snake charmer, who has neglected to use his voice with proper skill in order to effect his object, will have cause in his own person to discover that the mere fact of his proficiency will not avail him.
12-15. Description of folly and its results.
12. Are gracious] there is beauty in his talk. Will swallow up himself] he often will have to eat his own words.
14. A fool talks confidently and fluently of the future, as though it could be foreseen.
15. He wearies himself with ineffectual attempts, because he is incapable of carrying on the most ordinary affairs of life.
16-20. Much depends on the ruler. Whatever he be, he must be reverenced.
16, 17. The case referred to can hardly be an imaginary one. Ptolemy Epiphanes succeeded his father Philopater as king of Egypt at the age of six years (205 b.c.), and during his minority there was much strife between the Syrian and Jewish factions in Egypt, and, on the part of some in high places, licentious indulgence all day and every day (eat in the morning).
18. When the timber-work of a house is neglected, it gives way. So will it be also with the fabric of the state. Droppeth through] RV ’leaketh.’
19. If a man is wealthy enough to pay his way, there need be but little stint to the pleasures, lawful or unlawful, in which he may recklessly indulge. But in proportion to the height of the position he occupies, will be the injury done. But] RV ’and.’ Answereth] i.e. provides.
20. Nevertheless silent submission to authority is the only safety for an ordinary person.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 10". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29