Remember that we become Foolish when we fail to Apply wisdom to our lives

Ecclesiastes 10:8-20

Jerry A Collins



® How is wisdom valuable in our lives?

When does wisdom lose itís value for us?

How do we apply wisdom towards incompetent authority?

I just recently completed a large fencing job in our yard. Because of the area the fence would occupy, I knew that one corner would have to have a shorter section of fencing than the rest. So I calculated where I would begin so that that part of the fence would be in the least noticeable spot. And it worked out as planned. Wisdom is always better than foolishness because wisdom takes into account the end as well as the beginning when it decides what to do. In between wisdom calculates the risks involved in order to succeed and emerges with the profit or benefit hoped for. That is true if you are building fences or portfolios, marriages or character, careers or reputations. Solomon tells us that we should not lose the advantage of wisdom since it provides the schematic for success in many endeavors of life.


This section tells us that it is wisdom that brings success (vs 10) and profit (vs 11) in our everyday lives. The point is to warn us that every course of action in life has its risks. If we are to emerge with success and profit in our lives we must act and act wisely. This is the margin of difference and wise men unlike fools take into account the possible danger in their decision-making and then guard against it as much as possible. He lists five everyday situations and their dangers for us.

Situations: Dangers

Digging pits Falling into pits

Breaking down walls Bitten by serpent

Quarrying stones Hurt by stone

Splitting logs Endangering self

Chopping wood Overexertion

It is wisdom that becomes the difference between success or failure here. Very few of us will find ourselves digging pits, breaking down walls, quarrying stone, splitting logs, chopping wood. But he is not only talking about physical situations. He is describing life situations. Wisdom moves us ahead in life and calculating the possible dangers, prepares for them as best we can. Life is not lived flippantly like the fool who only lives for the moment. The value of wisdom is that it perceives dangers inherent in our decisions and calculates how we can get the advantage we are seeking. It considers the end from the beginning in light of what the Word of God says and then it moves ahead. It does this in marriage decisions like who am I going to marry, financial decisions like how am I going to invest this money in Godís kingdom, priority decisions like who gets my time, career decisions like what do I enjoy doing, ministry decisions like how to become a Christlike leader, family decisions like how do I disciple my kids. But wisdom cannot become just be added as an afterthought like perfume or cologne to complete a dressed-up person. Because then wisdom is useless since it is too late to bring the success and advantage hoped for vs 11. The damage is already done and brings no profit if it is not applied at the proper time just like the charmer bitten by the snake before it is charmed. So even though wisdom is valuable to avoid the dangers in everyday life, its value is nullified by inappropriate or improper timing. It must govern our decision-making if it is to bring the proper benefit we desire.


A. CONTRAST vs 12 Here we have a contrast between the words of a wise man with those of a fool. The wise mans are gracious or win him favor, esteemed. They are a proper guide to a joyful investment of oneís life despite the pitfalls and twists involved in it. On the other hand a fools word are self-destructive and consume him. He is his own worst enemy

B. FIGURE OF SPEECH vs 13 Using merism, in which polar opposites are chosen to indicate totality, Solomon characterizes a foolís speech at first as guilty of no more than silly or nonsense but as he goes on it becomes sheer madness from start to finish. This week I watched something that I call incredible. You may have seen the lady on the animal channel who talks with animals and passes on their messages to their owners. I saw her do this with dogs, cats, horses, pigs and birds from time tot time as I channel serfed over the last year or so. I chuckled at the nonsense. But then I watched as she would hold a picture of a deceased pet and communicate messages to the owners from their dead pets. Now that is sheer madness. There is nothing by which he can measure or guide his speech. I love my dog but my dog cannot talk and has no spirit. God made animals that way.

C. A RHETORICAL QUESTION vs 14 The answer is noone can tell him what will happen to him or anyone else in the future. He just continues to multiply his words oblivious to that fact. The pity is that the fool has no idea what he is talking about since he has no idea what the future holds. This same question was repeated in 3:22, 6:12, 8:7, in part in 9:12 to prepare the seeker after God for the ultimate conclusion of 12:14 where God alone will bring every deed into judgment. Fools no nothing about this

D. A PROVERB vs 15 This is a proverbial expression for extreme ignorance. We mite say he does not know enough to come in out of the rain. The fool will exert himself until he is blue in the face and the only effect it will have is to make him weary. If he does not know how to get from his place to town, how can he be trusted when he pontificates on topics of life? His lack of common sense (travel hometown, getting out of rain) shows lack of descretion and knowledge on topics he prattles on about.


Foolish leadership 16-19 Here are the bad effects from irresponsible leadership.

A CONTRAST 16-17 Here is the sorry state of a nation with incompetent, undisciplined leaders contrasted with a fortunate state of a nation whose leaders are opposite. Incompetent, they are involved in revelry, drunkenness from the morning onward but the other nation with leaders eating at proper time for strength to lead.

A DETERIORATION 18-19 Choosing the wrong values these leaders indulge themselves, permitting further abuses. This reckless maintenance of justice is compared to a leaky roof, rotting and collapsing thru neglect. while idleness, feasting, drinking and money is the solution to everything for them.

A WARNING 20 In spite of such bad leadership we are urged to use restraint. If you complain those in authority mite eliminate you. But here the condition seems to be one in which there is no possibility that speaking out will produce any change for the better. Since your wisdom has no influence because of the actions of others, do not endanger your future unnecessarily. The reason for such advice is that a report may get back to the leaders, an unknown source may disclose your secret criticism.