Practical Wisdom, Ecc 10:16-20

In Ecc 10:16-20 Solomon gives us some practical wisdom about drunkenness and gluttony, slothfulness and idleness, feasts, wine, and money, and private curses.

Drunkenness and gluttony. v.16-17

When thy king is a child AND thy princes eat in the morning.  Josiah was a child, 2 Chr 34, and had the cooperation of the people to brake down all the idolatry.  Joash, a child, but he had Jehoiada, 2 Chr 24:1-2.

King is a child. This is negative in the sense of Is 3:4.  Rehoboam, 1 Ki 12:8,  forsook the counsel of the old men, like Is 3:5.  Is 3:12, children are their oppressors.  A child should only be king if he is the son of nobles and his princes are sober men.

Princes eat in the morning.  Feed the appetite.  Wee hours of the morning.  Prov 23:20-21.  Winebibbers and riotous eaters of flesh.  Glutton and drunkard come to poverty.  Princes should eat for nourishment and not for gluttony.  In due season, that is, nourishment includes not only what to eat but when to eat it.  Eating for nourishment strengthens you; eating to satiate your appetite only temporarily satisfies you.

Additional warnings in Prov 31:4-5 not for kings or prince to drink strong drink or wine.  They’ll forget the law and pervert the judgment of the afflicted.

Slothfulness and idleness, v.18

By much slothfulness the building decayeth.  Prov 24:30-34.  If you are going to build a building, then you must be prepared to maintain it.  You can’t be lazy.  A little neglect, in time, results in a very expensive and difficult problem to fix.  My old office at CNB in the Conoco Building.

Through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.  Home ownership is home maintenance.  Maintenance has to be figured into the budget and into your schedule.  You can’t spend all your free time in recreation, on the computer, and in front of the TV.  This is practical wisdom.

Feasts, Wine, And Money, v.19

A feast is made for laughter.  Usually, it’s a joyful celebration.  The days of Purim, Est 9:20-22, are just such a feast.  Wine maketh merry.  See Ecc 9:7.  They made their hearts merry with wine as Boaz likely did in Ruth 3:7.  This is common in cultures where wine is served with a meal.  Solomon is not implying that you should give yourself to wine, Ecc 2:3.

But oftentimes that feast and that wine are for something else.  Solomon said “money answereth all things”.  That is, the feast may be to win your favor and get your money.  The wine may be to soften you up so you’ll buy.  In business this is called, “Wine ‘em and dine ‘em”.  The business lunch.  Cocktails at the reception.  Prov 23:1-8 warns you about becoming the prey of a man hosting a feast and promising you riches.  He’ll get rich and you’ll get shafted.  The love of money, 1 Tim 6:10.  This is practical wisdom.

Private Curses, v.20

Curse not the king.  True.  We honour the king, 1 Pet 2:17.  Even in secret what you think in your heart or say with your mouth is not safe.  There is someone around ready to snitch on you, Gen 27:41-42. Someone told Rebekah what Esau said in his heart.

Curse not the rich, even in your bedchamber.  See Mic 7:5.  Repeating the curse is typical of bad news.  Bad news travels fast; good news takes the scenic route.  Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news.

A bird of the air shall carry the voice. A common expressions is, “A little birdie told me”.  That which hath wings, like bugs, shall tell the matter.  We say, “the room was bugged”.

The bird and that which hath wings are connected with spirits.  For example, Elisha was able to tell the king of Israel the words that the king of Syria spoke in his bedchamber, 2 Ki 6:8-12.  And the Holy Spirit is likened to a dove.  The damsel possessed with a spirit of divination, brought her masters gain by soothsaying, Acts 16:16.  She had a foul spirit.  See the connection between foul spirits and birds in Rev 18:2, for example.

The bad stuff you say in secret about other people is never in secret.  And it can get back to the person about whom you said it, particularly if they are rich or they’re a ruler.  Bonhoeffer did not succeed in keeping his secret plot against Hitler a secret.  This is more practical wisdom.

To study the next lesson, see Folly. To study the next lesson, see Lessons From Nature.