Wisdom (Part 31)

Ecclesiastes 9:11-18  I returned and saw under the sun that — the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. For man also does not know his time: like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them. This wisdom I have also seen under the sun, and it seemed great to me: there was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man. Then I said: “Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard rather than the shout of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner can destroy much that is good.”

Ecclesiastes 10  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. A wise man’s heart is at his right hand, but a fool’s heart at his left. Even when a fool walks along the way, he lacks wisdom, and he shows everyone that he is a fool. If the spirit of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your post; for conciliation pacifies great offenses. There is an evil I have seen under the sun, as an error proceeding from the ruler: folly is set in great dignity, while the rich sit in a lowly place. I have seen servants on horses, while princes walk on the ground like servants. He who digs a pit will fall into it, and whoever breaks through a wall will be bitten by a serpent. He who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and he who splits wood may be endangered by it. If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success. A serpent may bite when it is not charmed; the babbler is no different. The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but the lips of a fool shall swallow him up; the words of his mouth begin with foolishness, and the end of his talk is raving madness. A fool also multiplies words. No man knows what is to be; who can tell him what will be after him? Fools are so exhausted by a little work that they can’t even find their way home! 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! Because of laziness the building decays, and through idleness of hands the house leaks. A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes merry; but by the one and the other money is wasted. 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.

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