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Bible Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 10

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verse 1

ECCLESIASTES

CHAPTER 10

IMPACT OF FOLLY

Verse 1 continues the thought of Ecclesiastes 9:18, regarding the impact of evil. As dead flies would pollute ointment, left uncovered, so also will even a little folly harm the reputation of one regarded as wise and honorable.

Verses 2-3

ACTIONS PROCEED FROM THE HEART

Verses 2-3 suggest that a wise man’s heart will direct him to that which is right, but the fool, lacking such heart guidance, indulges in folly and advertises that he is a fool, Ecclesiastes 8:5; Ecclesiastes 8:11; Proverbs 13:16; Proverbs 17:10; Proverbs 23:9.

Verses 4-7

RESPONSE TO FOLLY IN HIGH PLACES

Verse 4 urges self control, rather than anger and rebellion, if one in authority is unfair. Wisdom affirms that forbearance is the better course, Ecclesiastes 8:3; Proverbs 25:15; 1 Samuel 25:24.

Verses 5-7 explain the evil in view, in verse 4, by citing incidents Solomon had observed. He had seen fools elevated and the rich brought low; servants elevated to the privilege of riding upon horses (a great privilege in that day) and princes required to walk as servants. This he noted as an error that proceeded from the ruler, Vs 5.

Verses 8-11

CONSEQUENCES OF FOLLY

Verses 8-9 suggest that malicious schemes often have a reverse consequence that hurts the schemer rather than the intended victim. Haman, hanged on the gallows planned for Mordecai, is an example, Ezra 7:9-10; Proverbs 26:27.

Verse 10 contrasts the waste of the fool who neglects to sharpen his tool, thus requiring more time and effort, with the wise man who makes adequate preparation and performs the task more profitably, Proverbs 8:11; Job 28:18.

Verse 11 emphasizes the folly of one well able (the charmer) but who fails for lack of promptness in exercising his skill.

Verses 12-14

THE WORD OF FOOLS

Verses 12-13 declare, in contrast with the gracious words of the wise, (Proverbs 10:32; Proverbs 15:23; Proverbs 25:11), that the words of the fool are self-destructive, destroying his reputation, usefulness and ultimately the man himself, Vs 3; Proverbs 12:13; Proverbs 10:14; Proverbs 18:7; James 3:6; Matthew 12:36. His words begin in foolishness and end in mischievous madness, Vs 13.

Verse 14 emphasizes the intolerable presumption of the fool’s words. He has no knowledge of what shall be while he lives, nor of what shall be after him. He is so full of his own words, he listens to no one; yet he undertakes to speak on everything, Proverbs 15:2; Ecclesiastes 6:12; Ecclesiastes 8:7; James 4:13-14.

Verse 15

THE FOOL’S INABILITY TO LABOUR

Verse 15 declares the fool lacks the capacity to labor effectively. He is wearied by failed attempts because he has neither the will nor the knowledge for effectual work or business, Ecclesiastes 2:14; Ecclesiastes 4:5; Ecclesiastes 10:2; Ecclesiastes 10:18.

Verses 16-19

THE NATIONAL IMPACT OF FOLLY

Verse 16 affirms that woe or ill consequences follow when the king is immature and princes regard carnal indulgence as more important than state responsibility, Isaiah 3:1-5; 2 Chronicles 13:7.

Verse 17 declares that a nation will be blessed when its ruler is mature and the princes eat and drink for strength, not for drunkenness, Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 31:4-5; Isaiah 5:11; Isaiah 28:1.

Verse 18 affirms that slothfulness, which ignores decay, eventually results in collapse of the building. The principle is also true of disregard of decay in the moral structure of nations, Proverbs 24:30-34; Jeremiah 16:12-17; Ezekiel 16:46-54; Hosea 13:1-3.

Verse 19 appears to reflect the distorted view of the slothful (Vs 18) that laughter, wine, and money supplies all need, Ecclesiastes 5:10; Deuteronomy 8:11-14; Joshua 7:21; 1 Timothy 6:10.

Verse 20

RESPONSE TO ABUSIVE SUPERIORS

Verse 20 advises mistreated subordinates to remain calm and refrain from speaking ill against rulers or their rich associates, lest the criticism be swiftly conveyed to them, as if by wings, Exodus 22:28; Acts 23:5; 2 Peter 2:10-11; Judges 1:8. See also comment on Vs. 4.a

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 10". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/ecclesiastes-10.html. 1985.
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