Ecclesiastes chapter 10

It is a tragedy when a fool is hired for a leadership position. This often happens in church leadership. And in politics.





VERSE 1. Dead flies cause the oil of the perfumer to produce an evil odor; so does a little folly outweigh wisdom and honor.


VERSE 2. A wise man’s heart is at his right hand, but a fool’s heart at his left.

at his right hand … at his left. In this context, these words do not have a political meaning. Instead, the right hand is a position of power and honor. We believe it refers to Jesus Christ.


VERSE 3. Yes also, when the fool walks by the way, his understanding fails him, and he says to everyone that he is a fool.


VERSE 4. If the spirit of the ruler rises up against you, don’t leave your place; for gentleness lays great offenses to rest.

don’t leave your place. If you are confronted with the anger of your leaders, do not leave (Hebrew: “ttannakh”) your post. That is, do not to resign your office.

gentleness lays great offenses to rest. If you can remain calm and cool, you might be able to calm your ruler down.


VERSE 5. There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, the sort of error which proceeds from the ruler.


VERSE 6. Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in a low place.

NLT translation: when they give great authority to foolish people and low positions to people of proven worth

Fools are put in many high positions. This happens time and again in churches. And in politics. It is called cronyism. It means that a leader hires his cronies. It is an abuse of power, and it is common.

Many church leaders hire their staff members, not out of proven competence, but rather according to whether the person agrees with their own personal biases about debatable issues. Such people are often incompetent. They inflict a lot of damage on people.


VERSE 7. I have seen servants on horses, and princes walking like servants on the earth.


VERSE 8. He who digs a pit may fall into it; and whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.

Proverbs 26:27. Whoever digs a pit shall fall into it. Whoever rolls a stone, it will come back on him.


VERSE 9. Whoever carves out stones may be injured by them. Whoever splits wood may be endangered by it.


VERSE 10. If the ax is blunt, and one doesn’t sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but skill brings success.

skill brings success. Applying wisdom to the use of an ax makes it easier to succeed.


VERSE 11. If the snake bites before it is charmed, then is there no profit for the charmer’s tongue.


VERSE 12. The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but a fool is swallowed by his own lips.

are gracious. A wise person uses words to win favor.

swallowed by his own lips. A fool’s words are self-destructive.


VERSE 13. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness; and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.


VERSE 14. A fool also multiplies words. Man doesn’t know what will be; and that which will be after him, who can tell him?

multiplies words. Fools speak ad nauseous. They talk and talk and talk. They don’t shut up.


VERSE 15. The labor of fools wearies every one of them; for he doesn’t know how to go to the city.


VERSE 16. Woe to you, land, when your king is a child, and your princes eat in the morning!

when your king is a child. There were times when Israel was foolish enough to anoint a child as their king.

2 Kings 11:12. Then he brought out the king’s son, and put the crown on him, and gave him the covenant; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, “Long live the king!”

Ecclesiastes 10:16. Woe to you, land, when your king is a child, and your princes eat in the morning!

Isaiah 3:4. I will give boys to be their princes, and children shall rule over them.


VERSE 17. Happy are you, land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!


VERSE 18. By slothfulness the roof sinks in; and through idleness of the hands the house leaks.


VERSE 19. A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes the life glad; and money is the answer for all things.

money is the answer for all things. The author is using hyperbole. Elsewhere in the Book of Ecclesiastes it is abundantly clear that money is NOT the answer for everything.


VERSE 20. Don’t curse the king, no, not in your thoughts; and don’t curse the rich in your bedroom: for a bird of the sky may carry your voice, and that which has wings may tell the matter.


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.