In Chapter 10 of Ecclesiastes, Solomon warns us about foolishness in four different areas in life: foolishness in the little things, foolishness in leadership, foolishness in the workplace, and foolishness in our language…
“Don’t sweat the small stuff” is not a statement we should based our lives on. It’s the little things that can be the most destructive. One bad apple spoils the whole bunch. Let’s look at verse one…
“As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink, so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor.” Ecclesiastes 10:1
Picture that… just a small fly. We can ruin our wise reputation by making small, senseless mistakes. An example of this is our Christian witness. Ever hear someone, or maybe you know someone that said, “If so and so is a Christian, and they do that…then I don’t want any part of Christianity.” That my friends, is very sad, but really, all it takes is something little to ruin an otherwise good life.
Next, Solomon explains the foolish flaws in leadership…
“Kings and rulers make a grave mistake when they give authority to foolish people; and low positions to people of proven worth.” Ecclesiastes 10:6
In verses 5-7, Solomon describes some circumstances that aren’t fair or some things that don’t make sense. Wealth alone can’t bring justice. He continues to build his conclusion that everything we have doesn’t mean anything without God. But when God uses what little we have, it becomes all we need or could ever want. So, little is much…when God takes over.
In verses 8-10, Solomon is pointing out some things that can happen when foolishness reigns in the workplace…
“Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.” Ecclesiastes 10:10
“Sharpening the blade” means recognizing a problem, and then acquiring or sharpening our skills to do our job better. Again…it’s all about wisdom. This doesn’t only apply to the workplace, but we need to look at areas in our lives where our ax is “dull,” and sharpen our skills…for God’s service.
Is there anything more destructive than the tongue? “The power of life or death is in the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21
“If a snake bites before you charm it, what’s the use of being a snake charmer?” Ecclesiastes 10: 11 NLT
Or the same verse in the NKJ version…”A serpent may bite when it is not charmed; the babbler is no different.”
Now I can better understand what Solomon is saying: One mark of a fool is endless babbling. Snake charmers would use the swaying motion of a flute to “charm” or immobilize a snake. Solomon is saying that a snake can strike before the charmer begins. Our tongue is no different. It can strike when you think you have it all under control. Did you ever say something you wished you could take back? Or perhaps you inserted your foot in your mouth? So the more we babble, the more we have a chance of looking foolish.