The Word Made Fresh
1Dead flies make of perfume a foul odor,
and a little foolishness can outweigh wisdom and honor.
2The hearts of those who are wise lean toward what is right,
but the hearts of those who are foolish lean the other way.
3Even when fools walk on the road they have no sense,
and reveal to everyone that they are fools.
4If the ruler becomes angry with you, don’t leave your duties;
calmness undoes great offenses.
5There is a particular evil I have seen under the sun. It is as great an error as any made by a ruler: 6foolishness sits in many high places, and the wealthy sit in low places. 7But I have seen servants on horseback, and I have seen princes on foot like servants.
8The one who digs a pit might fall into it; and the one who breaks through a wall might be bitten by a snake. 9The one who quarries stones is the one who may be hurt by them, and the one who splits logs may be at risk from them. 10If an iron is dull, and the edge has not been sharpened, then more strength must be used. But wisdom will help one succeed. 11And if a snake bites before it is charmed, the charmer has no advantage.
12The wise are favored for their words,
but fools are consumed by theirs.
13The words in their mouths begin foolishly,
and end in wicked idiocy.
14Still, fools talk and talk. No one knows what is going to happen,
and who can predict the future?
15Fools are worn out by their work;
they don’t even know how to get to town.
16Too bad for you, land, when your king is a child
and your princes feast in the morning.
17Good for you, land, when your king is from a noble family
and your princes feast at the proper times –
for strength, not drunken stupor!
18Through laziness the roof sags;
through idleness the house leaks.
19Feasts are for laughter; wine gladdens the day;
money meets every need.
20Do not curse the king, even in your thoughts;
do not curse the rich, even from your own bed.
A bird may carry your voice,
or some other winged creature might tell about it.
1-15: More observations about the wise and the foolish. (Verse 2 probably has nothing to do with political parties in 21st century America.) Verses 5-7 acknowledge that nonetheless, foolish people sometimes are set above the rest.
Verses 8-11 acknowledge the inherent dangers in various occupations which represented the trades of the lower class.
16-20: These are observations about rulers and leaders. They more than others enjoy the pleasures of life but even so are advised to be diligent.
Of course, we don’t live in a land ruled by kings, but the advice still applies. There are people in charge of various aspects of our lives. Give them the respect they need to do their work.