1 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 every one that he is a fool.

4 If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences.

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.

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.

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.

16 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.

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.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Ecclesiastes
Book: Ecclesiastes
Chapter: 10

To preserve a character for Wisdom. (1-3) Respecting subjects
and rulers. (4-10) Of foolish talk. (11-15) Duties of rulers and
subjects. (16-20)

1-3 Those especially who make a profession of religion, should
keep from all appearances of evil. A Wise Man has great
advantage over a fool, who is always at a loss when he has
anything to do. Sin is the reproach of sinners, wherever they
go, and shows their folly.

4-10 Solomon appears to caution men not to seek redress in a
hasty manner, nor to yield to pride and revenge. Do not, in a
Passion, quit thy Post of duty; wait awhile, and thou wilt find
that yielding pacifies great offences. Men are not preferred
according to their merit. And those are often most forward to
offer help, who are least aware of the difficulties, or the
consequences. The same remark is applied to the Church, or the
body of Christ, that all the members should have the same care
one for another.

11-15 There is a practice in the East, of charming serpents By
Music. The babbler's tongue is an unruly evil, full of deadly
Poison; and contradiction only makes it the more violent. We
must find the way to keep him gentle. But By rash, unprincipled,
or slanderous talk, he brings open or secret vengeance upon
himself. Would we duly consider our own ignorance as to future
events, it would cut off many idle words which we foolishly
multiply. Fools toil a great Deal to No purpose. They do not
understand the plainest things, such as the entrance into a
great City. But it is the excellency of the way to the heavenly
City, that it is a high-way, in which the simplest wayfaring men
shall not err, Isa 35:8. But sinful folly makes men miss that
only way to happiness.

16-20 The happiness of a land depends On the character of its
rulers. The people cannot be happy when their princes are
childish, and lovers of pleasure. Slothfulness is of ill
consequence both to private and public affairs. Money, of
itself, will neither feed nor clothe, though it answers the
occasions of this present Life, as what is to be had, may
generally be had for Money. But the soul, as it is not redeemed,
So it is not maintained with corruptible things, as Silver and
Gold. God sees what men do, and hears what they say in secret;
and, when he pleases, brings it to Light By strange and
unsuspected ways. If there be hazard in secret thoughts and
whispers against earthly rulers, what must be the peril from
every deed, Word, or thought of rebellion against the King of
Kings, and Lord of lords! He seeth in secret. His Ear is ever
open. Sinner! Curse not THIS King in thy inmost thought. Your
curses cannot affect Him; but his Curse, coming down upon you,
will sink you to the lowest Hell.

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