flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor:
so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor.”
As dead flies will
transmute the aroma of fragrant ointment into a stench, so can even one
foolish act ruin a good reputation.
The J.F.B. Commentary
makes the interesting comment that “Beelzebub means prince of flies.”
10:2. “A wise
man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart is at his left.”
As noted above, the
ancients believed the heart to be the seat of the intelligence, so that what
is being said here is that the wise man’s brain will lead him to act wisely,
while that of the fool will lead him in just the opposite direction, i.e.,
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.”
“... walketh by the way”
is a metaphor for the course of a man’s life. The fool’s lifestyle
advertises his lack of wisdom.
10:4. “If the
spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding
pacifieth great offenses.”
The advice given here is
that even if your master should become angry with you, do not quit your job,
but rather yield respectfully to his judgment, your deference being very
likely to pacify his anger.
is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which prodeedeth
from the ruler:”
In those days the power of
the ruling prince was almost invariably absolute, so that when he exercised
poor judgment it was likely to have far-reaching bad effects.
is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place.”
An example of such error
on the part of a ruler was his having elevated foolish men to high
positions, so that wiser and better men than they had to occupy inferior
10:7. “I have
seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon earth.”
The horse represents
strength, so that the servants riding upon them represent the power of rule
vested in unqualified men. The princes were the ones who should have been
ruling, but as it was then, so is it still: many in high governmental
positions, locally and nationally, are unscrupulous self-seekers, caring
only about their own aggrandisement, while many honest and qualified men
have to live under their dominion.
10:8. “He that
diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh a hedge, a serpent
shall bite him.”
Though “... pit” may be
also translated “well,” in the present context it seems to portray rather a
pit dug for the injury of another. The language is symbolic, and speaks of
any plan hatched for the harm of another. Such schemes may succeed here on
earth, but man’s existence continues beyond earth: in eternity God will
balance the scales, the good or bad done on earth having a corresponding
measure of recompense in heaven or hell, depending on whether the man died
as a believer or as an unbeliever.
The breaking of a hedge,
which may include also the making of a hole in a wall, continues to speak of
an attempt to harm another. Obviously very few of those thus guilty will be
bitten by a literal serpent and die, but the language goes far beyond the
literal. The serpent represents Satan who is described as “that old
serpent, which is the Devil and Satan,” Re 20:2. The sin committed in
response to his evil prompting is far more deadly than the bite of any
literal serpent: it brings spiritual death.
removeth stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that cleaveth wood shall be
The first part of the
verse refers to the quarrying of stones: those engaged in such work are in
danger of being hurt by falling rock; while he who splits wood may be
injured in the process. (I knew of a man, who while splitting logs on a
large band saw, died by having his jugular vein severed by a projected piece
I regret being unable to
see the spiritual significance of this verse.
10:10. “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.”
It seems that the axe here
is used figuratively of the intellect. He who fails to sharpen or improve
his mind by the wise use of it, makes himself the heir of more trouble than
is necessary. Wisdom on the other hand is essential for success in life.
the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better.”
This is based on the
premise that snakes are so charmed or soothed by music that they will not
bite, the latter part of the verse seeming to imply that the words of a
senseless talker can do as much harm as the venom of a viper, hence the
adviseability of trying not to arouse the wrath of an over-talkative man.
words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will
swallow up himself.”
Everyone benefits by the
speech of a wise man: his words win him the respect of his hearers, but the
words of a fool ruin him, for his silence would have left his fooly
undetected, but his speech declares his foolishness to all who hear him.
beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishnes: and the end of his talk
is mischievous madness.”
Taylor translates this
verse, “Since he begins with a foolish premise, his conclusion is sheer
10:14. “A fool
also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be
after him, who can tell him?”
Only a fool would attempt
to predict the future, for only God knows what is yet to be.
labor of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how
to go to the city.”
All the efforts of a fool
weary him, for knowing not the way to the city, he never gets there: all his
attempts prove fruitless. But beyond the literal lies the deeper truth that
the fool, the unbeliever, knows not the way to heaven, and though he may
busy himself with church activity, morality, good works, etc., he will never
reach the hoped-for destination, for the way there is not a religious
system, but a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ Who says, “I am the way, the
truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me,” John 14:6.
10:16. “Woe to
thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!”
Unfortunate is the land
whose king is a mere child, and the princes who are his advisers carouse
into the small hours of the morning. Such a land will be brought to ruin.
The same is true of the land whose king, though a grown man, has no more
wisdom than a foolish child.
The application to the
Church is patent. When she is governed by immature, unspiritual men
obsessed by novelty and entertainment as the way to attract members, she is
treading the path to ruin.
“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!”
In marked contrast with
the land ruled by a child whose advisers revel all night, is that which is
ruled by a wise king, whose counselors are abstemious. And again, applying
the synonym to the Church, the truth being declared is that when the
congregation is composed of God-fearing believers, and the elders are mature
spiritual men, there will be blessing.
much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands
the house droppeth through.”
The deterioration of a
local church is portrayed here under the figure of a decaying house. By
neglect the roof caves in, and from there the total destruction quickly
follows. The roof corresponds to the leadership, the elders. When they
become slothful the demise of the assembly is a foregone conclusion.
feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all
A feast is an occasion for
merriment, and wine, as it is written, gladdens the heart, “... wine that
maketh glad the heart of man,” Ps 104:15; but money, from the viewpoint of
the unconverted, is the answer to every problem. One thing money can’t buy
however, is happiness, as is confirmed by the general unhappiness of some of
the very rich: nor can it buy one a place in heaven, or save one from hell.
not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy
bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry thy voice, and that which hath
wings shall tell the matter.”
The admonition against
cursing the king or the rich, even in one’s thoughts, is based on the fact
that simply by his demeanor a man may very easily disclose his attitude
towards someone, so it is safer not even to think evil of anyone: there will
then be no possibility of disclosure of what one is thinking.