The Words of Ecclesiastes

Chapter 10

Observations of wisdom and folly, 1-15; of riot, 16, 17; slothfulness, 18; and money, 19. Men's thoughts of kings ought to be reverent, 20.

1 Dead flies cause the ointment of the perfumer to send forth an offensive odor, and so does a little folly to him who is in reputation for wisdom and honor. 2 A wise man's heart is at his right hand, but a fool's heart is at his left. 3 Also, when he who is a fool walks by the way, his wisdom fails him and he says to everyone that he is a fool. 4 If the spirit of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place, for yielding pacifies great offenses.

5 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceeds from the ruler: 6 Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in a low place. 7 I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.

8 He who digs a pit shall fall into it, and whoever breaks a hedge, a serpent shall bite him. 9 Whoever removes stones shall be hurt by them, and he who cleaves wood shall be endangered by it. 10 If the iron is blunt and he does not whet the edge, then he must use more strength. But wisdom has the advantage to give success. 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 is also full of words. A man cannot tell what shall be. And what shall be after him, who can tell him? 15 The labor of the foolish wearies every one of them, because he does not know how to go to the city. 16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes eat in the morning! 17 You are blessed, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes eat in due season—for strength and not for drunkenness! 18 By much slothfulness the building decays, and through idleness of the hands the house drops through. 19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes merry, but money answers all things. 20 Do not curse the king, not even in your thoughts, and do not curse the rich in your bed-chamber, for a bird of the air will carry the voice, and that which has wings will tell the matter.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Ecclesiastes, Chapter 10[➚]


[v.14a] - "A man cannot tell what shall be" - That is to say, a man cannot discern what is to come to pass, or he cannot say with certainty what the future will hold.

[v.14b] - "And what shall be after him, who can tell him?" - If this is reworded as a statement, rather than a question, the thought behind this phrase would be this: "No one is able to tell a man what is to come to pass" In other words, no one is able to tell anyone what the future will hold. This knowledge is only possessed by God alone.