The Way of the Fool
Ecclesiastes 10 focuses quite a bit upon the way of the fool (in contrast to the way of the wise).

"Dead flies putrefy the perfumer's ointment, and cause it to give off a foul odor; so does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor" (10:1). Solomon's point here is that it only takes one mistake to ruin something good. A little bit of foolishness can tarnish much wisdom and honor, just as one sin can destroy a lifetime of good (cf. 9:18). People are often remembered for the foolish mistakes they made rather than the many good and wise things they accomplished.

According to 10:2,3, the heart of a wise man keeps him on the right path (cf. Prov. 4:23). However, a fool cannot hide himself. His deficiencies are obvious through his speech and actions.

It is often the case that the anger of a king (or anyone for that matter) can be calmed by the manifestation of a peaceful attitude (Eccl. 10:4). Maintaining a calm demeanor is always beneficial and will allow you the opportunity to explain yourself in difficult situations.

One of the great evils of this life is the exaltation of folly (10:5-7). Sometimes those who are "rich" in resources (e.g., knowledge, wisdom, and other abilities) are not given the opportunity to use them--and vice versa for fools.

Bold endeavors are sometimes disastrous (10:8,9), especially sinful ones (e.g., Esth. 7:9). This emphasizes the need for proper planning and a warning against carelessness. Even simple tasks can be dangerous. One should be attentive no matter how often he has done a certain task before. The wise man prepares his tools (e.g., sharpening an ax), which will enable him to be more efficient in his task. The fool, however, doesn't take time to prepare. He just swings away at full-strength, even when such isn't necessary (Eccl. 10:10).

We can learn from 10:11 that wisdom will cause us to enchant the "serpent" with which we must contend rather than attempting to out-hiss him.

10:12 reads - "The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious, but the lips of a fool shall swallow him up." Fools will destroy themselves by their speech and the words they love to multiply (10:14). Of course, their words are vain--they don't really know what is happening now, let alone the future! The way of the fool is aptly summed up as illogical thinking and irrational actions. May we seek the way of the wise in all things.

"Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes feast in the morning! Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes feast at the proper time--for strength and not for drunkenness!" (10:16,17). When wisdom and good sense are lacking in leadership, doom is certain. Personal enjoyment is not wrong, but it must be put in its proper place. Any leadership lacking moderation and self-control is destined for disaster.

According to 10:18, the laziness of a fool is not always immediately seen, but with time it becomes more obvious (e.g., like a building that slowly decays from a failure to properly maintain it). The passing of time exposes the real differences between the way of the wise and the way of the fool.

10:19 has been described by some as "The Fool's Theme Song" - "A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes merry; but money answers everything."

The chapter closes with a valuable warning. One who is wise will control his words (and thoughts), even in the most secret of places. Only a fool will speak his mind anywhere at anytime.