Bible: Eccl 9:13-10:20

Most People Are Not Receptive to Wise Counsel

9:13 This is what I also observed about wisdom on earth, 1 

and it is a great burden 2  to me:

9:14 There was once 3  a small city with a few men in it,

and a mighty king attacked it, besieging 4  it and building strong 5  siege works against it.

9:15 However, a poor but wise man lived in the city, 6 

and he could have delivered 7  the city by his wisdom,

but no one listened 8  to that poor man.

9:16 So I concluded that wisdom is better than might, 9 

but a poor man’s wisdom is despised; no one ever listens 10  to his advice. 11 

Wisdom versus Fools, Sin, and Folly

9:17 The words of the wise are heard in quiet,

more than the shouting of a ruler is heard 12  among fools.

9:18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,

but one sinner can destroy much that is good.

10:1 One dead fly 13  makes the perfumer’s ointment give off a rancid stench, 14 

so a little folly can outweigh 15  much wisdom. 16 

Wisdom Can Be Nullified By the Caprice of Rulers

10:2 A wise person’s good sense protects him, 17 

but a fool’s lack of sense leaves him vulnerable. 18 

10:3 Even when a fool walks along the road he lacks sense, 19 

and shows 20  everyone what a fool he is. 21 

10:4 If the anger 22  of the ruler flares up 23  against you, do not resign 24  from your position, 25 

for a calm 26  response 27  can undo 28  great offenses.

10:5 I have seen another 29  misfortune 30  on the earth: 31 

It is an error a ruler makes. 32 

10:6 Fools 33  are placed in many positions of authority, 34 

while wealthy men sit in lowly positions.

10:7 I have seen slaves 35  on horseback

and princes walking on foot 36  like slaves.

Wisdom is Needed to Avert Dangers in Everyday Life

10:8 One who digs a pit may 37  fall into it,

and one who breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. 38 

10:9 One who quarries stones may be injured by them;

one who splits logs may be endangered by them.

10:10 If an iron axhead 39  is blunt and a workman 40  does not sharpen 41  its edge, 42 

he must exert a great deal of effort; 43 

so wisdom has the advantage of giving success.

10:11 If the snake should bite before it is charmed, 44 

the snake charmer 45  is in trouble. 46 

Words and Works of Wise Men and Fools

10:12 The words of a wise person 47  win him 48  favor, 49 

but the words 50  of a fool are self-destructive. 51 

10:13 At the beginning his words 52  are foolish

and at the end 53  his talk 54  is wicked madness, 55 

10:14 yet a fool keeps on babbling. 56 

No one knows what will happen;

who can tell him what will happen in the future? 57 

10:15 The toil of a stupid fool 58  wears him out, 59 

because he does not even know the way to the city. 60 

The Problem with Foolish Rulers

10:16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is childish, 61 

and your princes feast in the morning!

10:17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobility, 62 

and your princes feast at the proper time 63 with self-control and not in drunkenness. 64 

10:18 Because of laziness the roof 65  caves in,

and because of idle hands 66  the house leaks.

10:19 Feasts 67  are made 68  for laughter,

and wine makes life merry, 69 

but money is the answer 70  for everything.

10:20 Do not curse a king even in your thoughts,

and do not curse the rich 71  while in your bedroom; 72 

for a bird 73  might report what you are thinking, 74 

or some winged creature 75  might repeat your 76  words. 77 

NET Bible Study Environment