Online Bible Commentary
Dealing with the Issues of Life
Ecclesiastes 10:16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, And your princes feast in the morning! 17 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! 18 Because of laziness the building decays, And through idleness of hands the house leaks. 19 A feast is made for laughter, And wine makes merry; But money answers everything. 20 Do not curse the king, even in your thought; Do not curse the rich, even in your bedroom; For a bird of the air may carry your voice, And a bird in flight may tell the matter. (NKJV)
The book of Ecclesiastes is classified as wisdom literature. Wisdom literature is especially concerned with helping us to deal with the issues of life. It is believed that Solomon wrote this book late in his life.
When Solomon became the king of Israel in 970 B.C. the first thing he asked of God was to be wise. God answered his prayer and made him the wisest man ever to live, at the age of nineteen (1 Kings 3:12).
In this passage Solomon warns us not to undertake certain behaviors that can be detrimental to living life under the sun, in the world. He begins with cautions to leaders of countries and their citizens. A country will suffer when its’ leader is like a “child”, immature and undisciplined (v. 16a). The undisciplined leader will not make the most of his time. He will “feast in the morning” instead of working (v. 16b). He will be ineffective, and his country will not thrive.
Instead the leader should take his job seriously, so that his country will prosper (v. 17a). He will “feast at the proper time” and his feast will be healthy, to keep him strong, and not a feast of “drunkenness”(v. 17b). His feast will be at the end of the day after his work is done and it will be a feast that allows him to awake the next morning refreshed and ready to give his all to his job.
Solomon completes this passage with three proverbs. “Laziness” will cause our homes to decay (v. 18). Secondly, taking time for “a feast” is good for “laughter” and merriment, but earning “money” is better because it provides the physical needs of life (v. 19). The third proverb is to never criticize the powerful or rich because they may get word of your criticism and you may suffer repercussions (v. 20).
These warnings are specific examples that also apply to many other situations in life. The example of the leader and his country could apply to anyone who is an employee. All employees should use their time wisely so as to be as effective as possible. When we are effective at work we prosper and so does our employer. We should spend our off hours engaged in activities that will allow us to wake up the next morning refreshed and ready to give our employer a good day’s work.
Laziness causes decay wherever it is found. If we are lazy in our relationships they will not last. It takes work to keep relationships alive and thriving. If we are lazy in maintaining our home it will also decay. Thinks break, and need to be repaired. If we are lazy at work our work will suffer and we will eventually lose that job.
Balance in our lives is a good thing. It is good to balance our work life with our free time. However, if we take too much free time we will not earn the money we need to meet our physical needs. Therefore, it is important to understand the importance of earning money so that our physical needs are met.
And finally, we should refrain from criticizing those who have the power to affect our lives. Things told in confidence often come back to bite us. Requested secrets often become public knowledge. Posting criticisms on social media often bring unwanted repercussions.
These are wise sayings from the wisest man in the history of the world. Solomon’s wisdom, and all wisdom, comes from God. We learn wisdom from reading the Bible. Wisdom will help us to deal with the issues of life. Wisdom will help us to live a life that honors God.