Ecclesiastes 10:11-20

Ecclesiastes 10:11

Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better.


For thousands of years man has been able to enchant serpents which we have all seen but here Solomon is stating that the serpent will bite simply because even if one is enchanted, they are still a serpent.  Just like the serpent who bites as part of his nature, the babbler will continue to babble because it is his nature to consistently talk, even if he has nothing constructive to say which is basically all the time.


Ecclesiastes 10:12

The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.


In this verse we have the contrast between a wise man and the fool.  The wise man will speak with wisdom that is gracious which can be understood as pleasant or well- favored and will bless those who hear him.  On the other hand, the fool will speak and will offer nothing of value and those that hear him will be offended or otherwise will be repelled by his words and those words he speaks will not only offend his listeners but will also be bad advice for himself if he chooses to follow it which may have destructive consequences.


Ecclesiastes 10:13

The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.


This verse teaches us that the fool begins his message with foolishness and as he progresses in his speech it has mushroomed to the point of mischievous madness which can be understood as harmful or malicious madness or foolhardiness which could be life threatening.  We have all had friends who think about things we could do which were daring but could have been life-threatening.  The fool normally has nothing constructive to add to any conversation or anyone’s life.


Ecclesiastes 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?


A fool is full of words and may also be known as a bragger who will spew all kinds of information as to what he is going to do or what he is going to accomplish.  When I was a drinker, I encountered many people like that after they had a few drinks in them.  A man may brag all he wants but he does not know what the future holds concerning his life.  He may think that he can plan his life and even in his mind he can project what he will achieve but the bottom line is that life never turns out the way we want.  It is just the nature of life.  Then that bragger cannot tell what will come after him either which means that after he dies, he will not know what shall come after him.  Then the last phrase is “who can tell him?”  In other words, how can you talk sense into a fool when they have believed their own foolishness.  Trying to bring sensibility to a fool is futile because they are always wise in their own eyes.  The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.  (Proverbs 12:15)  Proverbs 12:15 also contains the wise-fool contrast because the fool always thinks he is right no matter how much wise counsel he receives.


Ecclesiastes 10:15

The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city.


The foolish man labors hard but because he does not work smart his methods will tire everyone out who is involved with him and doing things the way he does them even though they are stupid.  This may not always be just physically tired but it also has to do with a person just being totally disgusted with doing things the wrong way.  In fact, the lead fool is so foolish he cannot even find his way into a city even if it had only one road going in.  Even people who point out the correct way to do things to a fool gets wearied in trying to get through to them.  A fool is a hard-headed individual is imprisoned by his own foolishness and refuses parole through wisdom.


Ecclesiastes 10:16

Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!


This may be speaking of a child of a young age but more likely it is speaking about a king who puts the serious rule of his country second to good times and partying.  The same about the princes which here it is not speaking of breakfast but speaking about the fact that these rulers live for feasting and drinking.  Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!  (Isaiah 5:11)  The land will suffer and so will the people if their government is out of control and if the king lives only for self-gratification.  In Daniel 5 it speaks about Belshazzar the Babylonian having a large feast while the Medes and Persians were literally outside his door.  Instead of looking at the gravity of the situation he was more concerned about feasting and when the Medes and Persians finally conquered them, Belshazzar was put to death.


Ecclesiastes 10:17

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!


Whenever a country has a king who has been trained as a son of a noble and is qualified to rule a country, then the land will have blessing and the people will be happy because they have a king who is concerned with ruling instead of feasting.  The same with the princes or other leaders of the country.  They eat for strength so they can rule the nation properly and do not eat or drink for the purpose of just getting drunk.  Instead they eat and drink to maintain their strength to be able to rule in sobriety and make proper decisions which benefit the country.  It will also keep them astute to spot any threats to their country or else they could wind up like Belshazzar.  In ancient times, whenever a kingdom conquered another kingdom, the first ones to be put to death was the king and his nobles.  So it is in their best interest to rule with sobriety and wisdom and eschew folly.


Ecclesiastes 10:18

By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.


This is a general denunciation of a slothful or lazy person.  Here the example is given of a building which will eventually fall if it is allowed to decay because the supports will eventually rot away and will no longer be able to support the building.  Then Solomon also uses the fact that a roof is leaking but the person who refuses to do anything about it therefore will always have a roof that leaks which can eventually cause the roof to completely decay causing a major collapse of the roof and everything that is in the house.   The house is not the only thing affected by laziness and idleness.


Refuses to cook his own meals - The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.  (Proverbs 12:27)


Their laziness causes waste - He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.  (Proverbs 18:9)


They are so lazy they won’t even feed themselves - A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.  (Proverbs 19:24)


Waits for a hand out because he refuses to work - The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.  (Proverbs 21:25)


They are full of excuses - The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.  (Proverbs



Refuses to plant - I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;  (Proverbs 24:30)


Ecclesiastes 10:19

A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.


A proper feast is made for laughter and the wine makes for a merry time.  We could equate these feasts with a barbecue in modern times as family and friends get together for the purpose of having a good time and just times of camaraderie.  A feast need not be a drunken orgy but could just be for a time of celebration or enjoyment.  Then Solomon seems to go in a different direction concerning the subject of money.  What he means by money answering all things is that money can be used to buy food, drink, clothing, transportation, medical needs, etc.  Money can also be used for giving, saving, investing, etc.  Whenever there is a need on earth, money can help in all things except the day of one’s death.  Money is neutral, on one hand it can be given to further the kingdom of God on earth and on the other hand it can be used to bribe someone.  If a fool has money, they will spend it according to foolishness and if a wise person has money, they will handle it according to wisdom.


Ecclesiastes 10:20

Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.


If there is one characteristic of our present generation, it is the fact that we despise those who rule over us, whether it be the President or a king.  Here Solomon is counseling people not to curse or despise the king, not even in thought because many times in a moment of anger we blurt out what we are thinking, even to our own detriment.  Then a person should not curse or despise the rich which would be the lower magistrates in the bedroom because a wife or even a servant may hear it and inadvertently repeat what the person said and it would come to the ears of the person  just as if a bird sat out on their window sill and instead of chirping started repeating back what they heard. Then the person who said it could be brought before the king or the princes and may face execution in fear that rebellion is starting to crop up.  We must always keep in mind that God does hear everything we say and since he is the one who raises kings and deposes them, then we would be showing rebellion against God.  And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:  (Daniel 2:21)  The tongue is one of the hardest members of our body to control.  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.  (James 3:6)