OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER
1) To compare the harm of folly and the value of wisdom
2) To see the impact of folly on one’s reputation, the government, and in business
The Preacher continues to share wisdom that can help endure the many vanities in life. This chapter is filled with proverbial statements, in which he first deplores folly and the affect it can have on one’s reputation (1-3).
The Preacher also describes how folly is often manifested in government, and in one’s life and labors. The land suffers when governed by foolish men, and labor is made even more difficult. Yet wisdom can bring success to one’s endeavors, and blessings to the land when found in the conduct of those who lead (4-20).
Definition of folly
1: lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight
I. FOLLY PLAYED OUT
ECCLESIASTES 10:1-3 Dead flies 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.2 A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.3 Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to everyone that he is a fool.
B. IT SERVES AS AN UNSAFE GUIDE (2)
1. The wise man’s heart is at his right hand.
2. The fool’s heart is at his left hand (in the wrong place)
C. IT BETRAYS ITS OWN STUPIDITY (3)
1. Allows all men see your lack of wisdom.
2. Makes you look foolish in the eyes of others.
II. FOLLY MANIFESTED
A. WHEN THE SPIRIT OF THE RULER RISES AGAINST YOU
(4) If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences.
1. Do not give in – DO NOT BE MOVED FROM TRUTH
2. To give in gives solace to the evil doer.
3. Do not be a pacifier to the evil, be a hinderance to the evil
B. WHEN FOLLY IS MANIFESTED IN GOVERNMENT AND LABOR
An evil observed by the Preacher (5-7) –
5 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the ruler: 6 Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place.7 I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.
a. Folly in the hearts of the ruler leads others to destruction.
b. Folly calls evil good and good evil.
Isaiah 5:20-24 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! 22 Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: 23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! 24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
c. the end of folly is total destruction
2. Those who labor with foolishness hurt and hinder themselves.
(8-10) – 8 He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him. 9 Whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby. 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.
a. Folly sets its own trap.
b. Turning from wisdom for folly will always bring much sorrow
Galatians 6:3,7 – 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
c. Folly leads to a hard life of confusion and hurt.
3. The foolish seldom know how to restrain themselves
(11-15) 11 Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better.12 The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.14 A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?15 The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city.
a. Words of the foolish are as babble to the wise
b. They do not know how to hold their tongues.
c. They do not know how to direct their labor
4. How folly and wisdom affect the condition of the country.
(16-19) – Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning! 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! 18 By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through. 19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.
a. Woe to the land whose leaders…
1) are selfish and remove all Biblical landmarks
2) Are lazy, giving in to the evil of the hearts of men for popularities sake
3) Allow the nation to be overtaken while they “party” on
b. Blessed is the land whose leaders…
1) Work to keep the nation secure and sound
2) Focus on the needs of the nation
3) Are willing to stand up to evil and praise righteousness
5. Be careful what you say
(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.
a. Pray for those in authority – pray for righteous rulings.
b. Do not despise the wealthy – they provide for many.
c. Choose your words wisely; you may have to eat them.