Ecclesiastes 10

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Read Ecclesiastes 10

10 As dead flies give perfume a bad smell,
    so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
    but the heart of the fool to the left.
Even as fools walk along the road,
    they lack sense
    and show everyone how stupid they are.
If a ruler’s anger rises against you,
    do not leave your post;
    calmness can lay great offenses to rest.

There is an evil I have seen under the sun,
    the sort of error that arises from a ruler:
Fools are put in many high positions,
    while the rich occupy the low ones.
I have seen slaves on horseback,
    while princes go on foot like slaves.

Whoever digs a pit may fall into it;
    whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.
Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them;
    whoever splits logs may be endangered by them.

10 If the ax is dull
    and its edge unsharpened,
more strength is needed,
    but skill will bring success.

11 If a snake bites before it is charmed,
    the charmer receives no fee.

12 Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious,
    but fools are consumed by their own lips.
13 At the beginning their words are folly;
    at the end they are wicked madness—
14     and fools multiply words.

No one knows what is coming—
    who can tell someone else what will happen after them?

15 The toil of fools wearies them;
    they do not know the way to town.

16 Woe to the land whose king was a servant
    and whose princes feast in the morning.
17 Blessed is the land whose king is of noble birth
    and whose princes eat at a proper time—
    for strength and not for drunkenness.

18 Through laziness, the rafters sag;
    because of idle hands, the house leaks.

19 A feast is made for laughter,
    wine makes life merry,
    and money is the answer for everything.

20 Do not revile the king even in your thoughts,
    or curse the rich in your bedroom,
because a bird in the sky may carry your words,
    and a bird on the wing may report what you say.

Go Deeper

Nobody wants to play the fool. Yet foolishness abounds nonetheless. In every arena of our lives, from work to politics to youth sports leagues, we can recognize fools. Oftentimes, we face the headwinds caused by their poor decisions. Today’s passage scans the land for the effects of foolishness and finds that it spares no class, no status, no ethnicity. We’re all susceptible to foolishness, be it from ourselves or those around us. While a truly wise man may be hard to find, a fool is not.

Solomon takes a birds-eye view of his kingdom and sees foolishness as a kind of widespread affliction. The snake charmer is bitten. The prince is a drunkard. The quarry-worker unwittingly is smothered by stones. The rare alternative—and the evidence of wisdom in someone’s life—is simple: to walk humbly, to maintain composure, and to keep your mouth in check. Wisdom, like the love of God, is not set aside for a certain type of person. Rather, it is available to all. But that doesn’t make it any less rare.

The call for us today, as Christians, is to be the wisest people in the room. We are to choose our words carefully, work hard, be diligent, and tell the truth in all situations. How differently would our city and world look if we lived out those virtues? There is enough foolishness in the world; what if we were different? Andy Crouch, a Christian author, says that Christians are to be people of wisdom and courage. We want to know what God would have us do in each situation (wisdom) and the boldness to do it (courage). Let’s be those people today.


  1. What is a foolish decision you have made in the past?
  2. What is a foolish decision made by someone else in your life that has impacted you?
  3. In what ways do you allow for “a little foolishness” (v. 1), and what can you do to eliminate those things from your life?

Try This

Spend some time this morning thinking through a few of the wisest people you know, and write down some of their most noticeable characteristics. Consider their lives in contrast to those Solomon describes in this chapter. Spend time in prayer to thank God for these people in your life.

Harris Creek Sermon

Here is the sermon from Harris Creek’s Ecclesiastes series based on Ecclesiastes 10 & 11 “The Search for Meaning: Wisdom in Words, Work, and Worship”.

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3 thoughts on “Ecclesiastes 10”

  1. It seems on a daily basis we are confronted with anger, be it from the news or social media. I was drawn to v4 and how a calm response could put great offenses to rest. What if our hearts & minds could be trained to pause, pray and remain composed instead of letting our feelings inform our response? We often jump into the fray without any thought to the outcome, reacting instead of responding. I’m praying that my words will be wise and gracious today.

  2. If I am being honest, that passage hits hard.
    I have been known to be speak without listening.
    It is one of the things I pray about most often, that I would be quick to listen and slow to speak, that God would remove the poison darts from my tongue.
    I have found, the more I lean in to God and seek his direction here, the better all of my time is.
    I continue to pray that God would allow me wisdom and courage in the face of all my situations, that I would better represent Him, in my speech.

  3. Last night I chose to take the foolish route, not holding my tongue and letting words rush out instead of showing love and grace in wisdom when it was a prime situation on choosing to walk in Gods ways for us or the foolish one of the world. This chapters encouraging and convicting on really relying on God in all situations prayerfully and seeking wisdom with composure, humbly taking on our part when we mess up and act the fool seeking forgives and guidance from it!

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