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.
1: Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. 2: Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. 3: If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be. 4: He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. 5: As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. 6: In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good. 7: Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun: 8: But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity. 9: Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. 10: Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.
1: Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; 2: While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: 3: In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, 4: And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; 5: Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: 6: Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. 7: Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. 8: Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. 9: And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. 10: The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. 11: The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. 12: And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. 13: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14: For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Today we are reading Ecclesiastes ch 10, 11 & 12. in yesterdays reading we saw that Solomon began in ch 9v11 to talk about his personal inspections of life ‘under the sun’. This section continues on to ch 10v15. In v1 he declares that though a man might have wisdom yet a little folly can spoil it all. Just like a poisonous fly spoils the whole batch of ointment causing it to ferment. It’s the same when a fool walks by, he knows he is a fool and tells everyone he is a fool. Solomon says if the spirit of a ruler rises up against you do not yield your place because yielding prevents great outrages. Solomon says I have seen a great foolishness ‘under the sun’ it is when the fool is credited with great dignity and the rich sit in the low place. He says I have seen servant riding horses with their masters walking. Then Solomon gives us one of his proverbs. The man who digs a pit will fall into it and the one who breaks down a hedge to snakes gets bitten by one. The man who removes stones that are set at boundaries will get hurt and the man who cuts wood stands in a dangerous place. If a man does not sharpen his axe then he has to work harder but if he sharpens it, it makes him more successful. A snake will bite even without being enticed and a babbler will speak without any encouragement. The words of a wise man are gracious and the lips of a fool will choke himself. A fool is one who doesn’t know when to stop and nobody can figure out what he is saying or what he has said. The work of the foolish makes them tired because he does not know where he is going. From v16 to ch 12v8 Solomon talks about man in his different places in life. He begins with the king saying woe to the land when the king is childish and the princes feast in the morning but the land will be blessed when the king is the student of nobles and the princes are moderate in feasting for physical strength not for excess (Drunkenness). Those who are lazy find that the home decays and through lack of maintenance the thatch will fall in. When you have a feast do it to have fun, drink to lift your spirits and money will purchase food and wine. Solomon says do not curse the king – even in thought and do not curse the rich even in your bedroom because a little bird will hear it and spread to all and sundry. From ch 11v1-6 he speaks of the sower saying cast your grain on the waters – in other words give to those in need, because you will reap a reward much later. He says give some of your food to seven or even eight men because you do not know when you will face a famine (And then they might help you) When the rain falls it come straight down and when a tree falls to might fall to the south or north but it remains where it fell. Many of these saying are obscure and it takes wisdom to apply them but they are all observations of life on earth – under the sun. He says if a man constantly waited for better weather he would never get on with his life of sowing or reaping. The ploughing must be done even in the face of storm and tempest or there will be no harvest. No-one knows how the things of the spirit are nor how a baby’s bones grow in the womb. And no-one knows all the works of God. So go out and sow your seed because you do not know what seed will grow. It’s a wonderful thing to see the sun and if a man lives for many years he must remember that dark days are coming. Solomon says, Young men, be happy while you are young and walk faithfully before the Lord (keeping in the Mosaic law) because in the end the Lord will hold you to account. So don’t downcast and put away the deeds of the flesh because remaining a child would be pointless. There was no provision under the law to conquer the fleshly appetites but the fear of the Lord and the judgments that might follow. In the last chapter Solomon speaks of the seriousness human life and responsibility. He begins saying do not forget God when you are young when life is good before life becomes hard. Then he talks about the body as if it were a house. One day your arms will shake and your legs will bow and your teeth will be few! and your eyes dim. Your will loose your hearing and you will have no teeth to grind any food. When you will not hear the birds sing high notes anymore you will only hear the low notes. When you lose your steadiness and you are afraid to walk because you might fall. When the white hairs grow on your head. When you will find difficulty in passing water and loose your libido. And you are on your way to your long rest and the mourners – your own mourners leave your funeral. When your spinal cord is severed and your skull is broken. When your heart ceases to beat. When the whole of the bodily functions has ceased forever. Then the body will become dust again and return to the soil and the spirit of man with return to God who gave it. Then will become true that all the great things done, will be pointless after all. So Solomon brings his book to an end He had taught the people all the wisest of things he knew. He tried to find words to express all he discovered. He says the ‘words of the wise men’ were like cattle prods and like brackets built into the wall which men could hang their ideas. Solomon says don’t become over excited writing books because there is no end to what could be written and nothing would be the last word. And much study can be just a weariness of the body. Then Solomon brings his masterpiece to an end saying what is the conclusion of all this book. Two things. No 1. Fear God and No 2. Keep his commandments. So there we have it. The final word on how to live under the Law of Moses. It is all that God expects of a Jew. And God will bring all that a man does to account in judgment. There was no mention under the law of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. No mention of the salvation of the soul. Of the new birth or eternal life. Of justification by faith or the blessings of being in Christ and part of the body of Christ the church. All these things were far in the future in another age when salvation would be by faith in Christ’s atoning blood.
- Select a proverb from each chapter that is interesting to you and talk about it.