Daily Devotional Saturday 10th February 2024

by William Moody

Ecclesiastes 10

10:1   Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench;
    so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
  A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right,
    but a fool’s heart to the left.
  Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense,
    and he says to everyone that he is a fool.
  If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place,
    for calmness1 will lay great offenses to rest.

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.

  He who digs a pit will fall into it,
    and a serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall.
  He who quarries stones is hurt by them,
    and he who splits logs is endangered by them.
10   If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge,
    he must use more strength,
    but wisdom helps one to succeed.2
11   If the serpent bites before it is charmed,
    there is no advantage to the charmer.
12   The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor,3
    but the lips of a fool consume him.
13   The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness,
    and the end of his talk is evil madness.
14   A fool multiplies words,
    though no man knows what is to be,
    and who can tell him what will be after him?
15   The toil of a fool wearies him,
    for he does not know the way to the city.
16   Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
    and your princes feast in the morning!
17   Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of the nobility,
    and your princes feast at the proper time,
    for strength, and not for drunkenness!
18   Through sloth the roof sinks in,
    and through indolence the house leaks.
19   Bread is made for laughter,
    and wine gladdens life,
    and money answers everything.
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.


[1] 10:4 Hebrew healing
[2] 10:10 Or wisdom is an advantage for success
[3] 10:12 Or are gracious


With the illustration of flies spoiling a perfumer’s ointment (v1), the preacher gives a very clear picture of how even a little folly (foolishness) can undermine wisdom. This remind sus how easy it is to be foolishly tripped up.

Foolishness is very different from wisdom (v2) and it is easily spotted out in public (v3). By contrast the calmness of the wise in adversity solves many problems (v4).

Fools can be found even in high places where people rule (v5-7). The place of someone in life doesn’t necessary reveal how wise they are. This reminds us never to be puffed up by a perceived position of honour.

We have some proverbs about the uncertainty of life (v8-11), but we’re reminded to do what we can to succeed (v10).

Fools use much words and much energy in life but as they are marked by foolishness it is not to their advantage, unlike the wise man (v12-15). Is God’s words saturating you, so as to control your words and actions so that in them you are wise and therefore fruitful?

Having wise leaders is very important (v16-20). Having the right leaders who do not live for self-indulgence is very important (v16-17).

It is a dangerous thing to criticise a king even in a private place as he will find out (v20). We must always guard our tongues, even in private.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®),
copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.