Ecclesiastes 10 - Wisdom and Folly

Like a chapter that would be at home in Proverbs, Solomon here notes the benefits of wisdom and the power of folly.

Dead flies make the perfumer's ointment give off a stench;
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

Sounds a little hopeless, doesn't it? A little folly outweighs wisdom. Take it not as a lament but as a warning - it doesn't take a lot of foolishness to cause a lot of trouble. How many tragedies have you heard that began with just a little folly?
There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as it were an error proceeding from the ruler: folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place. I have seen slaves on horses, and princes walking on the ground like slaves.

Anyone who's watched government in action can attest to the first part of that, but what of the second? Salves on horses, princes on the ground? What prince walks when he can ride or be driven, what slave can get a place on a horse?

The prince that doesn't know he's a prince and the slave who doesn't understand that he's imprisoned. I see many who think they are something when in reality they are slaves - slaves to their image, to their lifestyle, to their sin, to peer pressure. Others, who live in freedom and who are princes, sons of the king, live as if they were nothing, slaves, trapped, imprisoned. the have no confidence, no faith in their worth, even though they were bought at a price. Neither understands who they are.

Of course, I'm talking about those who are Christians and who are not. So many outside the church think of themselves as something when they are not and many inside have been given everything including Jesus and can't see it. When the world beats you down, and everything around you points to your worthlessness, it can be hard to see the invisible God who bought you at such a high price. I think we can all do more to lift each other's head to Jesus when the world beats us down.

There is a lot of wisdom in the remaining verses. Most have a practical application as well as layers of deeper meaning if you meditate on them for a while. Frankly, it can be easy to skim over them and miss the deeper meaning. Some of my favorites from Ecclesiastes 10:

10 If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge,
he must use more strength,
but wisdom helps one to succeed.

Work smarter, not harder. Solomon thought of that one first too.
11 If the serpent bites before it is charmed,
there is no advantage to the charmer.

That one made em smile, but then I thought about how many people get bitten by the metaphorical snakes they try to charm.
18 Through sloth the roof sinks in,
and through indolence the house leaks.

Ah, the joys of home ownership.
20 Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king,
nor in your bedroom curse the rich,
for a bird of the air will carry your voice,
or some winged creature tell the matter.

"Even in your thoughts ..." That's a high standard, but the truth is we cannot think that we can curse someone in our thoughts and have it not come through in our actions and attitudes. Besides, God judges us on our hearts, and the way you are in private is a better reflection of who you are inside than what you do in public. Think about that the next time you're alone in the car, in a hurry and in slow traffic.

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Good words. Our pastor is just now starting a sermon series on this book. I'm interested in what he has to say since I've never studied it.

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  • Good words. Our pastor is just now starting a sermon series on this book. I'm interested in what he has to say since I've never studied it....