In our study of Ecclesiastes chapter ten, we will look at the biblical definition of foolish and its effects on life.
As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
At the end of chapter 9, Solomon told us a parable of how the poor wise man is forgotten but the loud and proud sinner is listened to. He continues with that theme by comparing the words of a fool with a dead fly in the ointment. As with anything that dies, it creates a smell from its decay and so it is with a fly in perfume. After a while, the smell of death will overpower the good smell of the perfume. Wisdom is listening and following the plan of God while folly (foolishness) is ignoring or denying God's plan.
The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of a fool to the left. Even as he walks along the road, the fool lacks sense and shows everyone how stupid he is.
Man was formed in the image of God and so we all have a desire to know Him but a fool ignores that calling to follow his own ways. As the fool lives his life, it becomes evident to everyone that he has rejected God and is following after his flesh.
If a ruler's anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great errors to rest.
We have heard the phrase "if you can't fight them, join them" and that is what Solomon describes here. If you are walking in wisdom (following the Lord), then, you will face opposition and persecution just as Jesus warned. The fool will just go with the flow and follow blindly the leading of men.
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.
The problem with the rulers of this world, is that they put fools in places of authority. These fools have big ideas of their own instead of the wisdom that is from God. The rich that he speaks of is those who have the things of God in their hearts and minds. Have you noticed how those that are serving the Lord (princes) have to walk along as the poor in this world? Just look at any ministry that is following the Word of God and you will see that they do not live the high life.
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. If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success. If a snake bites before it is charmed, there is no profit for the charmer.
Now, Solomon compares the dangers of having fools in charge with some of the risks found in a person's normal work. He does this to illustrate the dangers of believing that politics have the answer to the problems of everyday life.
Words from a wise man's mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips. At the beginning his words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness - and the fool multiplies words. No one knows what is coming - who can tell him what will happen after him? A fool's work wearies him, he does not know the way to town.
The pattern of fools in high places is that they may start with some ideas that seem a little odd but at the end they can be downright evil. An example of what Solomon is speaking of is the rise and fall of Adolph Hitler. He started out being looked at like a foolish child by the rest of the world until he progressed into "wicked madness" and would not accept counsel from anyone.
Woe to you, O land whose king was a servant and whose princes feast in the morning. Blessed are you, O land whose king is of noble birth and whose princes eat at a proper time - for strength and not for drunkenness.
When fools are in high places, it is like having a child in charge and they do nothing but serve their own desires. Solomon contrasts the fate of these nations with those who have godly rulers that look after the people.
If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks.
When the leaders are lazy and self-serving, you can expect the nation to fall into disrepair just like a home that is not properly maintained. If we look around our world today, we see many countries where the leaders are living the good life while their country is in poverty.
A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.
Solomon now speaks of greed and the so-called "good life". The self-serving rulers see money as the answer for everything and do not see a need for faith in God.
Do not revile the king even in your thoughts or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.
It seems that this verse is even more true than ever before. With modern technology, governments know more about each of us than they ever have before. We must respect positions of authority and understand that God is in control even when there are fools in the high places.