Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Under The Sun #11 (Ecclesiastes): Fool’s Wisdom To hear this message and others download our free app at The App Store by searching gatheringconnect.
A Light To My Path Ecclesiastes 10:1-3, Psalms 119:97-105
The passages we read today in chapter ten are a collection of proverbs assembled by Solomon about wisdom and folly. Some of them are complete thoughts and others seem to simply be random statements, nonetheless we will seek nuggets of truth from each of them.
“The teacher” begins by reminding us that on the scales of life a little folly outweighs a whole lot of wisdom and honor. Consider this fact from those that God had called: Noah was a righteous man and wisely built an ark (Genesis 6:9-14) but after the rains came and went he foolishly got drunk and naked (Genesis 9:21). Abraham (Abram) wisely left his country and people and went to a land that God showed him (Genesis 12:1-4) but later acted foolishly by having a son through a concubine rather than his own wife as God had promised (Genesis 16:1-2). Moses wisely listened to God and led the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land (Exodus 12:31-36) but acted so foolishly in his anger that God denied him entry there himself (Exodus 32:48-52). Solomon’s own father, king David, wisely followed God to defeat the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17:45-50) and was later declared king of Israel leading the Israelites righteously and valiantly, but later acted foolishly by having sex with a soldier’s wife and then having him killed to cover up her pregnancy (2 Samuel 11:1-17). Even Solomon himself would fulfill his own words by wisely asking God for wisdom to lead (1 Kings 3:7-14) and later acting like a fool by amassing for himself 700 wives and 300 concubines who led him away to worship other gods (1 Kings 11:1-6). Like dead flies in perfume their folly outweighs their wisdom and honor doesn’t it? These facts cause skeptics to wonder, “are these the great leaders of the Bible?” To this I would say of course not…God almighty is the only great leader in the Bible! As Hannah once said: There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:2).
In the Bible “right” and “left” refer to spiritual and earthly, honor and dishonor. Note that Jesus is at the “right” hand of God (Ephesians 1:20-21) and in Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats His sheep (children of God) are on the right and the goats are on His left (Matthew 25:31-46). When Solomon writes “The heart of the wise inclines to the right but the heart of the fool to the left” he is saying that a wise person will always incline to the ways of the Lord. As we “walk along the road” (or the path of life) let us not “lack sense and show everyone how stupid we are.” Let us always incline to the “right”( Psalms 119:97-105) making God’s word a light to our path.
Wise Forethought Ecclesiastes 10:4-11, Philippians 4:6-9,13, Psalm 121:1-8
It is said “hind sight is 20/20”. That is to say that knowing what an outcome would be beforehand would make one see perfectly and therefore act perfectly. We usually don’t have that advantage because people most often react to situations rather than thinking things out beforehand. Solomon gives us some wise advice about thinking before we act: Firstly he reminds us to stay calm even in the heat of a “rulers” rebuke—”calmness can lay great offences to rest”. In this life we have two choices. We can go along with the temperature of our environment letting our mind and emotions be led by the twists and turns of the ever-changing scenarios of life, or we can set our hearts and minds on Christ. The inclination to the “right” or the “left” is always ours to choose. Let us wisely choose to trust God and let Him make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). Thanking God for what we have, praying and keeping our mind on praiseworthy things prepares us for rough roads (Philippians 4:6-9, 13). Remember—we can do all things thorough Christ who gives us strength.
Secondly, we must remember that “fools” are always among us and often in high positions. Those who are “rich” in wisdom usually occupy the lower ones. “Slaves” to ruling fools are also often lifted up (on horseback) while “princes” (God’s people) “slave” under them. Yes, we live in a fallen (sinful) world, but stay calm and guard against your anger because God will ultimately prevail (Romans 12:19)! Those who foolishly react in the moment may “fall” into a pit, get “bitten by a snake” be “injured” or be “endangered” by their rash actions. We must remember that the “ax is dull” or that the people we deal with aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people and we are imperfect too. More strength is needed to see success and My strength comes from the Lord (Psalm 121:1-8)! Remember— if you want to see success stay calm or the “snake” (circumstances) will bite you.
Watch Your Mouth! Ecclesiastes 10:12-15, James 3:9-12, 17-18, 4:7
Oftentimes when we loose our calm we don’t think about what we say but just “barf” out destructive words in frustration or anger. The apostle James admonished us about our use of the tongue and said, “this should not be” (James 3:9-12) . This reaction tears down relationships and adds stress to an already bad situation. We need to seek out the “wisdom that comes from Heaven” and “submit ourselves to God”. It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. “Word barf” never accomplishes anything it just wears out the fool who toils in them. We will never find the way to town (healthy relationships) unless we pray and choose our words carefully.
Who Is Your King? Ecclesiastes 10:16-19
Solomon concludes his proverbs on wisdom and folly by contrasting a people ruled by a child or a king of noble birth. The NIV version poorly translates the Hebrew word naar נַעַר] (nah’-ar) Lit. a boy, lad, youth] to “servant” which does not express the authors intent. The “woe” is in the understanding that an immature (“child”) leader will be inclined to the “left”—worldly and concerned with his own needs and wants to the detriment of his subjects. His princes “feasting in the morning” meaning that no work is being accomplished in such an administration. The “blessed” land (or people) is ruled by the king inclined to the right—spiritual and honorable, whose princes (administration) exercise strength and not drunkenness. Laziness and idle hands compromise the house in which we live. The idea that feasting, drinking and money is the answer to everything is foolhardy. “Woe” to the people ruled by such a “child”. Their roof is bound to leak and eventually cave in! Who sits on the throne of your life? Who is your King? If it is not Jesus then a jester reigns!
Fool’s Wisdom Ecclesiastes 10:20, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
We can judge and curse the earthly leaders and the rich who rule over us, but our own actions and inclinations to the “right” or “left” will judge us. Our wisdom should come from the Word, our king is Jesus, our actions to reflect His light—foolishness to the perishing—life to the wise!