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.

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.

A wise man's heart is at his right hand,/
but a fool's heart is at his left.

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.

If the spirit of the ruler rises against you,/
do not leave your place,/
for yielding pacifies great offenses.

There is an evil which I have seen under the sun,/
as an error which proceeds from the ruler:

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

I have seen servants upon horses,/
and princes walking as servants upon the earth.

He who digs a pit shall fall into it,/
and whoever breaks a hedge, a serpent shall bite him.

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.