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Bible Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 10

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verse 1

Ecc 10:1

MISCELLANEOUS PROVERBS

Ecclesiastes 10:1

"Dead flies cause the ointment of the perfumer to send forth an evil odor; so doth a little folly outweigh wisdom and honor."

This proverb is actually an illustration of the last verses of Ecclesiastes 9. A little folly by a single sinner can destroy much good. Also there is discernible in it another application. A little folly can destroy the beauty and effectiveness of a noble character, in the same manner that a few dead flies in a small jar of expensive perfume can totally ruin it.

The unfortunate division of the chapter at this point suggests that the author is turning to a new subject. However, the following eleven verses are a series of sayings and illustrations which further demonstrate the principles set forth in the close of chapter nine.

Ecclesiastes 10:1 “Dead flies” are literally “flies of death.” The statement at the close of the preceding chapter, “one sinner destroys much good,” is metaphorically illustrated by the flies which fall into the perfumer’s oil. It is close to the statement of Paul that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough” (1 Corinthians 5:6). A precious, expensive jar of mixed perfume can be ruined by the foreign influence of dead flies. So the most noble monarch or righteous person could be destroyed by one sinful act. The concept of “flies of death” is purposely intended to be much stronger than the fact that a fly falls into the oil. The flies are poisonous, destructive creatures which can potentially corrupt and destroy. One who is great in “wisdom” and “honor” may fall prey to evil and thus meet with destruction.

Even in life, how often does the one secret, unconfessed sin poison the mind until it renders the whole of man useless? Surely, “a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor.”

The costly perfume is putrified and made to “stink.” Thus the value of the perfume as well as its practical use is nullified. The lesson of the “flies of death” serve to remind one that there is no such thing as insignificant sins.

Verse 2

Ecc 10:2

Ecclesiastes 10:2

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

"A wise man’s heart (intelligence + conscience + will) will lead him in a right direction; but that of a fool has a sinister bent.”

Ecclesiastes 10:2 The association of good with the right hand and evil with the left hand is nothing new. Pagans have long believed that the right is synonymous with good luck, while the left is identified with bad luck. Although the Christian disdains attributing the events of life to luck, he recognizes that a distinction is made in the Bible concerning right and wrong in association with the right and left hands. (Cf. Matthew 25:31-33; Matthew 25:41; Luke 1:11; Acts 7:56)

It is commonly said today that “his heart is in the right place.” By this one means that his heart directs him toward the right. For years many considered left-handed persons sinister, shifty and generally distrustful. This was true because the majority of people were right-handed. Thus the association of foolishness with the left, and wisdom with the right, was a natural distribution. The right hand has always been a place of honor while the left is one of less importance. It is this and nothing more that should be made from the comparison.

“Heart” is equal to the judgment of the mind as used in Ecclesiastes 10; Ecclesiastes 3 and also in Proverbs 2:2; Proverbs 14:33; Proverbs 15:28.

Verse 3

Ecc 10:3

Ecclesiastes 10:3

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

Moffatt rendered this: "Even on a walk the fool shows lack of sense, for he calls everyone a fool.” This reminds this writer of a traffic sign on a very dangerous curve on an old Tennessee highway many years ago. It read, "Slow Down!" "You Might Meet Another Fool."

Ecclesiastes 10:3 Verses two and three should be considered together. The grammatical construction of the sentences is such that it is more the idea of following a direction of duty of obligation than placing the emphasis upon the hands. The fool of this verse shows no sense of direction. It is said of him that even when he walks along the road, “he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool.” “Along the road” suggests that in his simplist acts he gives evidence of being a fool. If the mind is filled with folly, it isn’t long until such evil finds expression. If he had learned wisdom at home (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) he undoubtedly would have manifested it in the way.

Verse 4

Ecc 10:4

Ecclesiastes 10:4

"If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for gentleness allayeth great offences."

Deane believed that this referred to some situation in which a person appointed to some place of service to the ruler (king) should not hastily resign because of some displeasure that might be manifested by the king. We might paraphrase it by saying, "Don’t run when accused, they might think you are guilty"!

Ecclesiastes 10:4 The figure of a “ruler” rising against the wise is revived. When this happens, one should not move from his place or “position,” for truth does not change. (Cf. COMMENT Ecclesiastes 8:3) If one moves from his position of wisdom, his only alternative is to follow the behavior of the fool. Thus, the verse admonishes one to remain consistent in following the greatest of all qualities—wisdom! Such “composure” practiced by the wise will “smother in the birth” great offenses. Study Proverbs 10:12; Proverbs 15:1; Proverbs 25:15; James 5:6-10. Examples from Old Testament history are found in Jacob overcoming Esau (Genesis 32-33) and David who triumphed over Saul (1 Samuel 26).

Verses 5-7

Ecc 10:5-7

Ecclesiastes 10:5-7

"There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as it were an error which proceedeth from the ruler: folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in a low place. I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking like servants upon the earth."

The teaching of these verses regards the proper conduct of kings and rulers, who should exercise the greatest care in the choice of men whom they elevate to high office. Rehoboam was guilty of the very error cited here. He chose as his advisors and appointees the senseless young fools with whom he had grown up in Solomon’s harem; and they promptly lost the kingdom.

The very fact of this advice regarding the way king’s should rule would hardly have been addressed by Solomon to any others than to the children and young men of his own harem, another strong indication that Solomon is indeed the author. Adam Clarke cited the government (in England) of Cardinal Woolsey and Thomas a Becket as a wanton violator of what is taught here.

Any government, especially that of an autocratic ruler, that elevates unworthy men to positions of honor and compels the true nobility of the land to stand as their inferiors is headed for disaster. As Clarke said, "Not only have a few sovereigns who did such things had very uncomfortable and troublesome reigns; but some have even lost their lives, or their kingdoms.”

Ecclesiastes 10:5 The reader is now given a concrete example of the foolishness of the ruler. When power or authority falls into the hands of unwise men, errors are committed and injustice reigns. In verse four the ruler is a man whose spirit or temper is raised against his subjects. Jerome has erroneously suggested that the Ruler is God. He did not hold that God is capable of error or sin, but that men think his judgments at times are unequal. The context, however, rules out this possibility. Those who argue that God is meant as the Ruler base their reasoning, partly at least, on the fact that the term for ruler in verse four is moshel but in this verse it is shallet. However, one literary technique of Solomon in Ecclesiastes is the interaction of synonyms: e.g., the use of adam lo (man) (Cf. Ecclesiastes 7:20; Ecclesiastes 9:14), and ish lo (man) (Cf. Ecclesiastes 6:2; Ecclesiastes 7:5; Ecclesiastes 9:15). Delitzsch says that the author wished simply to avoid repetition.

Ecclesiastes 10:6-7 Words which capture the sense of both verses are found in Proverbs 19:10 : “Luxury is not fitting for a fool; much less for a slave to rule over princes.” Verses six and seven are intended as an amplification of the truth stated in verse five.

It has been suggested that “folly” is to be understood as an abstract term for the more concrete “fools.” Thus the fools are in juxtaposition to the rich. The social order is out of joint. The incongruity is a result of an incompetent ruler (Ecclesiastes 10:4-5). It is not that the Preacher’s own standard is violated or that His criticism betrays his prejudice. It is undoubtedly a violation of general principle. Folly should not be exalted, and the rich, most likely representing the godly of Israel (Cf. Deuteronomy 15:4) should not be humiliated. In addition, slaves should not rule over princes. The lesson before the reader teaches that when men fail to follow the direction of wisdom, folly reigns and injustice permeates the entire society.

Verses 8-11

Ecc 10:8-11

Ecclesiastes 10:8

"He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh through a wall, a serpent shall bite him."

Haman’s being hanged on the gallows he built for Mordecai is the classical example of what is meant by the first line. Regarding the second line, "Breaking through a fence, one is stung by a serpent lurking in the stones of his neighbor’s garden wall.”

Ecclesiastes 10:9

"Whoso heweth out stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that cleaveth wood is endangered thereby."

These truisms have the simple meaning that certain tasks carry with them an element of risk and danger. "If you work in a stone quarry, you get hurt by stones; if you split wood, you get hurt doing it.” The spiritual application of this is that if one is engaged in any kind of an enterprise or activity that is designed to defraud or damage other people, it will most certainly be the same thing which happens to him.

Ecclesiastes 10:10

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

In this, the author is still talking about cleaving wood; and the iron here is a reference to the axe. "If the axe is blunt and the edge unwhetted, more strength must be put into the blow; successful skill comes from shrewd sense.”; Ecclesiastes 10:8-9 were summarized as saying, "Every job has its dangers.” This verse (1) is paraphrased: "Wisdom can make any job easier; if a person sharpens the knife (axe) the job is easier. Wisdom is like that.”

Ecclesiastes 10:11

"If the serpent bite before it is charmed, then is there no advantage to the charmer."

"If the snake-charmer is unwise in the practice of his craft, he may be bitten like anyone else.” "Knowing how to charm a snake is of no use if you let the snake bite you first"! A spiritual application is that, "Knowing what to do to be saved is of no use to the man who puts it off till death overtakes him."

The following four illustrations demonstrate further the foolishness of working without the aid of wisdom. In the midst of the illustrations the Preacher pauses for a moment to make clear the emphasis he wishes to make: He says, “Wisdom has the advantage of giving success.”

Ecclesiastes 10:8 In a similar passage in Proverbs 26:26-27, the context suggests evil activity. If such is the case in this verse, the digging of a pit would be an effort to try and snare another person or do him harm. In like manner, breaking through a wall would imply that one would be making an effort to steal from his neighbor. In both instances wisdom would be lacking as it directs one in the path of righteousness. Consistent with this interpretation is Psalms 7:15-16; Psalms 57:6 and Amos 5:18-20. The principle of retribution, taught clearly in the verse, also fortifies the argument that the activity is of an evil nature. The one who digs a pit will fall into it, and the one who breaks through a wall will be bitten by a serpent. The Amplified Bible translates the verse: “He who digs a pit (for others) will fall into it, and whoever breaks through a fence or a stonewall, a serpent will bite him.” Although most snakes in Palestine are harmless, there are some which are deadly.

Ecclesiastes 10:9 This verse does not suggest retribution as did the former verse. Rather, it speaks to the accidents which may result from common everyday work when wisdom is not employed. One does not have to work long in a stone quarry or logging camp until the potential dangers are evident. To quarry stones and split logs suggests building something new. Wisdom is an essential element in such an enterprise.

Ecclesiastes 10:10 The “axe” may be symbolic of all implements used by men in the activities of their work. When wisdom is not employed the maximum benefit of all implements is lessened. One must exert much more energy when the edge of the ax has not been properly honed. The latter part of the verse may be translated, “Wisdom is profitable to direct.” Perhaps more time would be consumed in planning the work and sharpening the tools, but such purposeful direction pays dividends in both the energy exerted and the amount of work accomplished. Once again the value of wisdom is demonstrated.

Ecclesiastes 10:11 This final illustration demonstrates the foolishness of neglecting opportunities. In this instance wisdom would have directed the one responsible for charming the snake to employ a charmer (one who tames or controls the snake) before he had displayed the snake. Eastern cultures have practiced snake charming for centuries. References to the practice are found elsewhere in the Old Testament. (Cf. Exodus 7:11; Psalms 58:5-6; Jeremiah 8:17) If one has the secret to charm the snake, but does not use it and is bitten by it, what benefit does he gain from such wisdom? To be bitten by a poisonous viper which spreads its destructive venom throughout the body, is likened unto a slanderer who by his words destroys the character of another. Note the Amplified Bible where the verse is rendered: “If the serpent bites before it is charmed, then it is no use to call a charmer, (and the slanderer is no better than the uncharmed snake).” Wisdom teaches that both the serpent and the slanderer be controlled before they have an opportunity to destroy. A similar analogy is made by Jesus in Matthew 23:33. It is one thing to possess wisdom, it is something else to use it to advantage.

Verses 12-15

Ecc 10:12-15

Ecclesiastes 10:12-15

THOUGHTS REGARDING FOOLS

"The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness; and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. A fool also multiplieth words: yet man knoweth not what shall be; and that which shall be after him, who can tell him? The labor of fools wearieth every one of them; for he knoweth not how to go to the city."

"The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious, etc." (Ecclesiastes 10:12). Delitzsch rendered this verse: "The words of the wise are heart-winning, and those of the fool self-destructive.” Of all the dangers that confront us, that of unwise speech is perhaps the greatest. "By the words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matthew 12:37). How many kind words which are never spoken would have blessed and encouraged some struggling brother! How many critical or flippant remarks have left indelible marks upon aching hearts! O God, help us properly to control and to use the tongue!

"The beginning of the words (of the fool) is foolishness ... and the end mischievous madness" (Ecclesiastes 10:13). This verse makes it clear why the words of the fool are self-destructive. "In scripture, the fool is not dull but wicked. His speech begins, not with God, but with foolishness, and the end of it is wicked madness.” "His words are folly from the start, and they end in mad mischief.”

"A fool also multiplieth words, yet man knoweth not what shall be, etc." (Ecclesiastes 10:14). Waddey gave the meaning here as a warning that, "The fool talks too much about things of which he is ignorant.”

"The labor of fools wearieth every one of them; for he knoweth not how to go to the city" (Ecclesiastes 10:15). Rankin rendered this: "Fool’s labor wears him out, for he does not know how to go to town.”

Another bit of wisdom in connection with speech is that silence is better that talk. "President Abraham Lincoln gave us his own proverb on this: `It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt’!”

Ecclesiastes 10:12 The same word used for charming the snake is used for prayer (lachash) in Isaiah 26:16. So in contrast to wrong speech, the verse begins with the idea that words from a wiseman are gracious. Such gracious words of praise or encouragement of one’s fellowman are considered “sacrifices” (Hebrews 13:15-16) as they proceed from the mouths of those who possess the true wisdom. On the other hand, the poison in the mouth of fools is reprehensible. This is true not only because it destroys others, but because it consumes the fool himself. A close parallel is found in “the tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly” (Proverbs 15:2). On the matter of gracious words, read Proverbs 22:11; Psalms 45:2; Luke 2:52; Luke 4:22. On the matter of the self-destruction of the fool, read Psalms 5:10 and Proverbs 18:7.

Ecclesiastes 10:13 “As the proverb of the ancients says: ‘Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness’” (1 Samuel 24:13). The very beginning of the fool’s conversation is foolishness. (Cf. James 3:8-13) While it is true that the beginning of the conversation of fools is found in jest and folly, before it is ended the element of evil characterizes their words. Here it is called “wicked madness.” (Cf. COMMENT Ecclesiastes 7:25)

Ecclesiastes 10:14 The multiplying of the fool’s words implies his boasting about tomorrow, his promised accomplishments, his own greatness, and his importance to his society. Yet, when he boasts of tomorrow, he is speaking of that which he knows the least. (Cf. James 4:13; Luke 12:18-20) The word used for “fool” in this verse (sakal) means one who is a “dense, confused thinker.” In verse twelve the word for “fool” (kesil) means one who is possessed of an unwarranted self-confidence. There is undoubtedly a mixture of both as there would be in most fools. The words “what will happen,” and “what will be after him,” speak to the immediate future as well as the distant future—even after death. No man can predict the events of tomorrow with any certainty, how foolish to go about boasting of what one will do in the distant future.

Ecclesiastes 10:15 Two additional indicators of the fool are noted: (1) The toil or labor in which he engages is apart from God’s approval. It is of such a nature that he toils for nothing and is wearied by it. Habakkuk described nations who toil and grow weary for nothing—showing no profit (Habakkuk 2:13). (2) The second mark of the fool is the total absence of common sense. He is so void of understanding that he doesn’t know his way home. Current American proverbs which parallel this are: “He doesn’t know enough to come in when it rains”; “He is so ignorant that he can’t tie his own shoe strings.” He is indeed a fool because he brags endlessly of his future success, and yet his labor isn’t productive. If he cannot find his way over clearly marked roads, one could not expect him to succeed in his plans. The way to the city is the way most traveled and thus the easiest road to follow. Such facts heighten the ignorance of the fool.

Verse 16

Ecc 10:16

Ecclesiastes 10:16

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

"A country is in trouble when its king is a youth, and its leaders feast all night long.”

Ecclesiastes 10:16 The land is impoverished when the ruler behaves as a child. It does not mean that a young king would be a curse to a land. Josiah proved a blessing to Israel and became king when he was but eight years of age. Rehoboam is an illustration of the intent of the verse, when at forty-one years, he behaved with childish thoughts and in childish ways (2 Chronicles 13:7). Compare with this Isaiah 3:12 where corrupted rulers are described as women and children. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 14:20) The irresponsible behavior of childish kings carries over to the princes who start the day frolicking in intoxication and sensual enjoyment. They should have attended to honest work and important matters of state (Jeremiah 21:12). Isaiah also spoke of similar circumstances in Ecclesiastes 5:11-12 : “Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink; who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them! And their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine; but they do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord. Nor do they consider the work of His hands.” The lesson is clear: When wisdom is disregarded by the rulers of the land, the people will have to endure injustices and uncommon trials. The “woe” that comes upon them is the inescapable sorrow which results from the land being controlled by fools.

Verse 17

Ecc 10:17

Ecclesiastes 10:17

"Happy 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."

"But a country is fortunate to have a king who makes his own decisions and leaders who eat at the proper time, who control themselves and don’t get drunk.”

Ecclesiastes 10:17 In this verse the opposite picture is presented. The king is not only mature in his behavior, he is also of noble birth. Noble not only in blood, but also in virtuous behavior. No longer is the true prince walking upon the ground while the fool triumphs on horseback. Wisdom reigns. The Jews assign to the word “noble” the idea of “freeborn.” This suggests a greater opportunity for one to enjoy learning and the employment of wisdom. Such men would be a blessing rather than a curse to the land. Such wise men will eat for strength and not for sensual enjoyment. They will judge wisely in the morning hours rather than selfishly pursue the pleasures of the flesh. Instead of harsh judgments and sorrow falling upon the land, the land is blessed and happy. (Cf. Isaiah 32:8; Isaiah 31:4)

Verse 18

Ecc 10:18

Ecclesiastes 10:18

"By slothfulness the roof sinketh in; and through idleness of the hands the house leaketh."

In all probability this is only another ordinary proverb against sloth or laziness; however, Barton suggested that, taken in connection with the two preceding verses, "It might be intended as a hint that when the princes of a state give themselves to revelry, the structure of government would fall into ruin.”

A demonstration of the supreme value of wisdom over folly continues in the closing three verses of this chapter. It is illustrated, however, through three negative warnings. The subject of the discussion turns from the examples of noble and honorable men to the foolish rulers and the blight cast upon the land as a result of the attitudes and actions. Since the rulers or king serves as the subject, the use of “rafters” and “house” should be taken figuratively for the nation’s state of affairs. Solomon was bordering upon the brink of rebellion. Both Rehoboam and Jeroboam were setting their sights on the throne. Although the picture is applicable to the later Persian period and well represents the conditions of that day, it also vividly describes the conditions in the day of Solomon. As a matter of fact, the principles which are interwoven throughout the narrative are applicable in any generation where the leaders are given to wine, merriment and money, and where a segment of godly souls long for the restoration of justice, righteousness and honor.

Ecclesiastes 10:18 “Indolence” is an intensive word and in the original language, it carries the idea of much slothfulness. Not just one idle hand, but both are meant. A vivid picture of such laziness is presented in Proverbs 26:14-16 : “As the door turns on its hinges, so does the sluggard on his bed. The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is weary of bringing it to his mouth again. The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can give a discreet answer.” Since those who are in control have little welfare for their subjects, the judicial matters go unattended. The picture of a house is introduced to convey a common illustration which would be understood by all, and actually experienced by some. First the rafters sag and through inattentiveness the house leaks. When those in authority are more concerned with their own personal pleasure (Cf. Ecclesiastes 1:2-10) than the welfare of the state, even the innocent suffer. (Cf. Amos 6:6) How different the admonition toward industry found in chapter nine verse ten! Diligent work is the way of wisdom.

Verse 19

Ecc 10:19

Ecclesiastes 10:19

"A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh glad the life; and money answereth all things."

"Feasting makes you happy, and wine cheers you up, but you can’t have either without money.” "Men make a feast for enjoyment, and wine makes life pleasant, but money is everyone’s concern." This relationship between drinking wine and feasting on the one hand, and providing the funds to pay for it on the other hand, reminds us of a song that became popular back during the days of the depression, "If you’ve got the money, Honey, I’ve got the time."

Ecclesiastes 10:19 It is because of the three erroneous attitudes expressed in this verse that the condition discussed in verse eighteen existed. Instead of repairing the breaches, the officials seek a feast, wine and money. They spend their time and energy in revelry rather than looking after the affairs of the state. A Jewish tradition puts the following words in the mouth of Solomon’s mother as she scolds him for just such irresponsible behavior for a king: “Do not give your strength to women, or your ways to that which destroys kings. It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to desire strong drink. Lest they drink and forget what is decreed, and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to him whose life is bitter. Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his trouble no more. Open your mouth for the dumb, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.”

“Money answers all.” How did Solomon acquire the money to carry out his outlandish experiments, and pursue his luxurious personal pleasures? The Amplified Bible says that he “depends on (tax) money to answer for all of it” (Ecclesiastes 10:19 c). Solomon taxed the people heavily and survived the criticism of the people. However, upon his death excessive taxation proved to be the undoing of Rehoboam and occasioned the loss of the ten tribes. In troubled times, when justice is perverted, money is secured from many illegitimate sources. Extortion, exorbitant taxation, bribes, and numerous opportunities for graft are only a few examples. Thus, money grants all that such people want. It is of course a perversion that money answers all. Truly it is more than just perversion, it is idolatry. Meander says: “Silver and gold,—these are according to my opinion, the most useful gods; if these have a place in the house, wish what you wilt, all will be thine.” Such is the obsession which conquers the fool. The Preacher is already on record concerning the superiority of wisdom over money. Not only is wisdom greater than money, it has the inherent quality of preserving “the lives of its possessors” (Ecclesiastes 7:11-12). Of course the philosophy that money will resolve every problem and supply the answer to every desire is the expression of the sinner, not the godly of Israel.

Verse 20

Ecc 10:20

Ecclesiastes 10:20

"Revile not the king, no, not in thy thought; and revile not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird in the heavens will carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter."

This is a warning against any kind of seditious talk against a monarch and against even the entertainment of any uncomplimentary thoughts regarding such a ruler; because, the nature of human gossips being what it is, the account of your words will be relayed to the ruler, "In a manner as rapid and as marvelously as if birds or winged messengers had carried the information to the king."

Ecclesiastes 10:20 In the concluding verse, wise counsel is offered to those who must suffer through the abuse of leaders whose character has been identified in the preceding verses. It is dangerous to react in an unwise way to the behavior of leaders who work contrary to the will of God. Thus the warning, “Curse not the king.” The motive of prudence is sufficient for one to refrain from lifting a voice against the king—one should have regard for his own personal safety. The idea of cursing either God or the ruler is prohibited (Exodus 22:28). Here the word “curse” means “speaking lightly of.” The “bird of the heavens,” and “the winged creatures” simply means, in almost every culture, that secrets have wings. Words spoken in confidence often find wings and fly to the ears of those spoken about. Today one would say, “a little bird told me.” Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45). One must guard against entertaining evil thoughts in the heart, for in some unguarded moment the words will find their way through the lips to the ears of others.

Wisdom Better than Folly - Ecclesiastes 9:13 to Ecclesiastes 10:20

Open It

1. Where have you seen incompetent people end up in positions of responsibility?

2. When have you wished for more money?

3. In what ways has someone else’s laziness affected you?

4. In what way has the advice of an obscure but wise person ever helped you?

Explore It

5. What did Solomon see that impressed him? (Ecclesiastes 9:13-16)

6. What was ironic about the man who saved the city? (Ecclesiastes 9:13-18)

7. What was ironic about the way the city was saved? (Ecclesiastes 9:13-18)

8. What themes are explored in these verses? (Ecclesiastes 9:13 to Ecclesiastes 10:20)

9. To what did Solomon compare the quiet words of the wise? (Ecclesiastes 9:17)

10. What is the value of wisdom? (Ecclesiastes 9:18)

11. What does a little folly outweigh? (Ecclesiastes 10:1)

12. What evil arising from the error of a ruler did Solomon see? (Ecclesiastes 10:5-7)

13. Against what sort of injuries did Solomon warn? (Ecclesiastes 10:8-9)

14. How did Solomon compare and contrast the words of the wise with the words of the fool? (Ecclesiastes 10:12-14)

15. What consequences of laziness did Solomon describe? (Ecclesiastes 10:18)

16. What did Solomon say about a feast, wine, and money? (Ecclesiastes 10:19)

17. Why did Solomon counsel against reviling the king and cursing the rich, even in private? (Ecclesiastes 10:20)

Get It

18. How is wisdom better than folly?

19. In what way is wisdom more powerful than strength?

20. How can just a little folly be so dangerous?

21. How do incompetent people end up in important positions?

22. In what self-destructive behaviors do people in our society engage?

23. What are the negative consequences of laziness?

24. In what way is money the answer for everything?

25. What are some problems or situations for which money is not the answer?

26. Why is it important to guard our tongue even when it doesn’t appear to be necessary?

Apply It

27. What is one step you can take this week to cultivate wisdom over brute strength in your life?

28. Concerning what self-destructive or foolish behavior will you seek someone’s advice?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Ecclesiastes 10". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/ecclesiastes-10.html.
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