Verse of the Day

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pastor's Sermon Notes: Ecclesiastes (series), #36 - Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way! (Ecclesiastes 10:16-20)

Series: Ecclesiastes
Sermon #36: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!
Ecclesiastes 10:16-20


[Audio file from Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/Ecclesiastes1016-20.]

16 Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning! 17 Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness! 18 By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through. 19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things. 20 Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.

Outline:

I. As the Leaders, So the Nation (10:16-17)
II. The Slothful Domicile, and the Almighty Dollar (10:18-19)
III. Bad Mouthing, and Birds in the Bedroom (10:20)

I. As the Leaders, So the Nation (10:16-17)

16 Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning! 17 Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!

1. The Curses of Boy Kings and Breakfast Princes (10:16)

Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child,[1] and thy princes eat in the morning!

Is. 3:1-12 — 1 For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water, 2 The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, 3 The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counseller, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator. 4 And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. 5 And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable. 6 When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand: 7 In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people. 8 For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of his glory. 9 The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not.  Woe unto their soul!  for they have rewarded evil unto themselves. 10 Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. 11 Woe unto the wicked!  it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him. 12 As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them.  O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

2 Chr. 13:1-7 — 1 Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam began Abijah to reign over Judah. 2 He reigned three years in Jerusalem.  His mother's name also was Michaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah.  And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3 And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men: Jeroboam also set the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men, being mighty men of valour. 4 And Abijah stood up upon mount Zemaraim, which is in mount Ephraim, and said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel; 5 Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt? 6 Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, is risen up, and hath rebelled against his lord. 7 And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them.

2. The Blessings of Noble Kings and Motivated Princes (10:17)

Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!

Pr. 31:1-7 — 1 The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. 2 What, my son?  and what, the son of my womb?  and what, the son of my vows? 3 Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings. 4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: 5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. 6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. 7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

Is. 5:11 — Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!

II. The Slothful Domicile, and the Almighty Dollar (10:18-19)

18 By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through. 19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.

1. The Sad State of the Slothful Domicile (10:18)

By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.[2]

Pr. 24:30-34 — 30 I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; 31 And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. 32 Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. 33 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 34 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.

2. The Answer of the Almighty Dollar (10:19)

A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.

Eccl. 2:3 — I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.

Judg. 9:13 — (1-21) And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?

Ps. 104:10-15 — 10 He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. 11 They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst. 12 By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches. 13 He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. 14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; 15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.

Eccl. 7:12 — For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.

Eccl. 5:10 — He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.

III. Bad Mouthing, and Birds in the Bedroom (10:20)

Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.[3]

1. There is no Right to Privacy in God’s Kingdom

Curse not the king, no not in thy thought;[4] and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber

Ex. 22:28 — Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.

Ac. 23:1-5 — 1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. 3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? 4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest? 5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

There is a distinct Biblical focus on purity in the thought life. God holds us accountable for holiness in our minds, and righteousness in our thinking.

Getting “behind closed doors” does not make it right. There is no right to privacy in God’s kingdom! Our thought life is under His scrutiny, and subject to His judgment. Therefore it should be by us as well!

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

 “In order to guard your heart: keep your mind from vanity, keep your understanding from error, keep your will from perverseness, keep your conscience clear of guilt, keep your affections set on heavenly things, keep your thoughts from evil things, and keep the whole of your heart from falling into the hands of the enemy. You must exercise great diligence since the heart is naturally deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. A strict eye must therefore be kept upon it. All the avenues to it must be watched so that nothing hurtful enters and nothing evil comes out. It is to be kept by every spiritual means available to us -- by prayer, by hearing, by reading, by meditation, and above all by being filled by the Spirit of God who is the only One who is really able to sanctify, preserve and keep our hearts.” ~~ by John Gill

2. Be Sure Your Sin Will Find Your Out

for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.[5]

“A little bird told me!”

Your bedroom is not bugged. It is “birded”!

2 Ki. 6:8-12 — 8 Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp. 9 And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are come down. 10 And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of, and saved himself there, not once nor twice. 11 Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us is for the king of Israel? 12 And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.

Lk. 12:1-3 — 1 In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. 3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

Num. 32:23 —  (1-42) But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.

Don’t worry about Big Brother! Worry about the little “Bedroom Bird”!

Conclusion:

As disconnected as some suppose these five verses to be, perhaps you noticed a progression, or even more than one, from verse 16 to verse 20.

1. A progression of levels of responsibility from the corporate to the personal: from the state (vv. 16-17), to the home (vv. 18-19), to the individual (vs. 20).

2. A progression of time, a chronological progression: from morning (vv. 16-17), to the work day (vv. 18-19), to bed time (vs. 20).

[Sermon preached 24 JUL 2016 by Pastor John T. “Jack” Jeffery at Wayside Gospel Chapel, Greentown, PA.]

Complete Outline:

I. As the Leaders, So the Nation (10:16-17)

1. The Curses of Boy Kings and Breakfast Princes (10:16)

2. The Blessings of Noble Kings and Motivated Princes (10:17)

II. The Slothful Domicile and the Almighty Dollar (10:18-19)

1. The Sad State of the Slothful Domicile (10:18)

2. The Answer of the Almighty Dollar (10:19)

III. Bad Mouthing, and Birds in the Bedroom (10:20)

1. There is no Right to Privacy in God’s Kingdom

2. Be Sure Your Sin Will Find Your Out

Select Sources on Ecclesiastes:

J. Sidlow Baxter, Explore The Book: A Basic and Broadly Interpretive Course of Bible Study from Genesis to Revelation, 6 vols. in 1 ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, n.d., 1960 printing).

William D. Barrick, Ecclesiastes: The Philippians of the Old Testament, Focus on the Bible series (Fearn, Ross-Shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2012). Barrick’s lecture notes (PDF files) and audio (mp3) are on Dr Barrick at http://drbarrick.org/teaching/ecclesiastes/ [accessed 3 FEB 2016].

Charles Bridges, An Exposition of the Book of Ecclesiastes (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860); on Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/expositionofbook00bridrich [accessed 11 MAY 2015]; on Google Books at http://books.google.com/books?id=e4kOAQAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false [accessed 11 MAY 2015]; and linked on Precept Austin at http://preceptaustin.org/proverbs_commentaries.htm#cb [accessed 11 MAY 2015].

C. Hassell Bullock, An Introduction to the Old Testament Poetic Books: The Wisdom and Songs of Israel (Chicago: Moody Press, 1979).

Franz Delitzsch, “Commentary on The Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes,” trans. M. G. Easton, in Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes, C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Vol. VI: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon: Three Volumes in One (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., n.d., 1975 reprint), III:179-442.

Michael A. Eaton, Ecclesiastes: An Introduction and Commentary, Vol. 16, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 1983).

ESV Study Bible (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008).

Sinclair B. Ferguson. The Pundit's Folly: Chronicles of an Empty Life (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1995).

Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Vol. 14, New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman, 1993).

Donald R. Glenn, “Ecclesiastes,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, eds. J. F. Walvoord, and R. B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1985).

William Henry Green, “Scope and Plan of the Book of Ecclesiastes,” Biblical Reparatory and Princeton Review 29 (1857), pp. 419-40; on Gordon Faculty Online at http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/OTeSources/21-Ecclesiastes/Text/Articles/Green-ScopeofEccl-1857.pdf [accessed 7 NOV 2015].[6]

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Coping With Change: Ecclesiastes (Fearn, Roth-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2013).[7]

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Ecclesiastes: Total Life, in Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1979).

Derek Kidner, The Message of Ecclesiastes: A Time to Mourn, and a Time to Dance, in The Bible Speaks Today, Old Testament series ed. J. A. Motyer (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1976).

H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Ecclesiastes (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1952).

Tremper Longman III, The Book of Ecclesiastes, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997).

John MacArthur, MacArthur Study Bible, rev. ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997).

Tim Mackie, “The book of Ecclesiastes explained with illustrations,” on The Bible Project at http://www.jointhebibleproject.com [accessed 18 JUN 2016]; includes downloadable full resolution video (700+ mb), and poster; for the video see also “Read Scripture Ecclesiastes” (10 JUN 2016), on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrsQ1tc-2wk [accessed 18 JUN 2016].[8]

Roland Edmund Murphy, Ecclesiastes, Vol. 23A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, 1992).

New Geneva Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995).

John G. Reisinger, Studies in Ecclesiastes (Frederick, MD: New Covenant Media, 2008).

Philip Graham Ryken, Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters, in Preaching the Word, gen. ed. R. Kent Hughes (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010).

Philip G. Ryken, Why Everything Matters: The Gospel in Ecclesiastes (Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, Ltd., 2015).

Benjamin Shaw, “On Reading Ecclesiastes,” in The Hope Fulfilled: Essays in Honor of O. Palmer Robertson, ed. Robert L. Penny (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2008), pp. 47-58.

Peter B. Steese, ed., Ecclesiastes, gen. ed. Leonard F. Dean (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1966).

Tom V. Taylor, Studies in Ecclesiastes (Port Colborne, Ontario, CA: Gospel Folio Press, 2013).  See also the “Thomas V. Taylor Library” on the Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute at  http://www.taylorlib.ibri.org/ [accessed 27 NOV 2013].

Addison G. Wright, “The Riddle of the Sphinx: The Structure of the Book of Qoheleth,” in Reflecting with Solomon: Selected Studies on the Book of Ecclesiastes, ed. Roy B. Zuck (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), pp. 45-66; originally published in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 30 (1968), pp. 313-334.

J. Stafford Wright, “Ecclesiastes,” in Psalms-Song of Songs, Vol. 5, Expositor's Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991).

J. Stafford Wright, “The Interpretation of Ecclesiastes”, in Classical Evangelical Essays in Old Testament Interpretation, ed. Walter C. Kaiser Jr. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972), pp. 135-150; from J. Stafford Wright, “The Interpretation of Ecclesiastes,” Evangelical Quarterly 18 (1946), pp. 18-34; on Rediscovering the Bible at http://rediscoveringthebible.com/InterpretationOfEcclesiastes.html [accessed 7 MAY 2015].

Ronald F. Youngblood, “Qoheleth's 'Dark House' (Eccl. 12:5),” in A Tribute to Gleason Archer, eds. Walter C. Kaiser and Ronald F. Youngblood (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), pp.211-228; also published in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 29:4 (DEC 1986), pp. 397-410; on Biblical Studies at http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/29/29-4/29-4-pp397-410_JETS.pdf [accessed 4 APR 2016].



Notes:

[1] On the usage of the Heb. word trans. “child” (youth) see William D. Barrick, Ecclesiastes: The Philippians of the Old Testament, Focus on the Bible series (Fearn, Ross-Shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2012), pg. 179, on Rehoboam (2 Chr. 13:7; 1 Ki. 14:21); Absalom (2 Sam. 18:12; cp. 14:7); Solomon (1 Ki. 3:7-9).

[2] On 10:18 see Hans Walter Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament, trans. Margaret Kohl (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974; from Anthropologie des Alten Testaments, Munich: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1973), pg. 130, pp. 129-131. s.v. Ch. XIV, Waking and Working, §2. Industry and sloth in proverbial wisdom. In addition to Eccl. 10:18 Wolff cites on this subject: Pr. 10:4; 13:4; 12:24; 11:16b; 12:27; 14:23; 21:5; 24:30-34; 19:15; 6:6-11; Jer. 8:7; Pr. 26:13-16; 19:24; 21:25; and 20:4.

[3] “We look in vain for the word conscience in the O.T., except in the margin of Eccles. 10:20, where it represents part of the word Yada ’, to know (Assyrian, iduÆ ).”
— Robert Baker Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament: Their Bearing on Christian Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., n.d., 1976 reprint of 1897 ed.), pg. 72; see pp. 72-74, s.v. Ch. V, Heart, Will, Conscience, Understanding. §5. Conscience; on Study Light at http://www.studylight.org/lexicons/gos/ [accessed 13 JUL 2016]; and on NTS Library[3] at http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Books%20II/Girdlestone%20-%20Synomyns%20of%20the%20OT.pdf [accessed 13 JUL 2016]; in an earlier edition, Robert Baker Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament: Their Bearing on Christian Faith and Practice (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1871), pg. 120; see pp. 120-124, s.v. Ch. V, Heart, Will, Conscience, Wisdom, Understanding. §17-18; on Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/synonymsofoldtes00gird [accessed 13 JUL 2016]; and on Google Books at https://books.google.com/books?id=D3YcA72rnqQC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false [accessed 13 JUL 2016].

[4] On the NASB translation: “…bed chamber…sleeping rooms…,” as opposed to the ESV, HCSB, NIV, and NLT: “…thoughts…bedroom…,” see esp. Michael A. Eaton, Ecclesiastes: An Introduction and Commentary, Vol. 16, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 1983), pg. 156.

[5] On the cultural significance of birds in ancient literature see esp. Eaton, pg. 157.

[6] Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. inexplicably refers to this as an “unsigned article” on at least two occasions in his commentary despite the facts that: 1) William Henry Green is clearly indicated as the author under the title on the first page of the article (pg. 419), and 2) one of his own faculty members (Ted Hildebrandt) has posted the article on the school’s web site where Kaiser served as both faculty member and President. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Ecclesiastes: Total Life, in Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1979); and Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Coping With Change: Ecclesiastes (Fearn, Roth-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2013).

[7] Although not indicated on the copyright page, this appears in all respects to be a revised edition (2nd ed.) of the Moody Press 1979 original. The relationship to the original is referenced in the “Preface,” where the author mentions the inclusion of his own translation of Ecclesiastes in this revision as one significant change. “Dale Ralph Davis compares the two and says, “the ‘bones’ are much the same but the whole has been updated and expanded.” Source: Tim Challies, “Best Commentaries on Ecclesiastes” (18 NOV 2013), on Challies at http://www.challies.com/resources/best-commentaries-on-ecclesiastes [accessed 7 NOV 2015].

[8] “This video explores the main ideas and flow of thought of the book of Ecclesiastes.
The Bible Project is a non-profit creating animated videos that explain the narrative of the Bible. These videos are free to use for personal and educational purposes. Download a full resolution version of this video along with a study guide at www.jointhebibleproject.com.”
“About the author: Tim Mackie is a Pastor of Door of Hope church and a Professor at Western Seminary - timmackie.com”

Pastor's Sermon Notes: Ecclesiastes (series), #35 - The Deficit of Foolishness (Ecclesiastes 10:10-15)

Series: Ecclesiastes
Sermon #35: The Deficit of Foolishness
Ecclesiastes 10:10-15


[Audio file from Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/Ecclesiastes1010-15.]

10 If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct. 11 Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better. 12 The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. 13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. 14 A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him? 15 The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city.[1]

Outline:

I. The Direction of Wisdom (10:10-11)
II. The Danger of Foolishness (10:12-14)
III. The Dog-Tiredness of Fools (10:15)

I. The Direction of Wisdom (10:10-11)

10 If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct. 11 Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better.

10 If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.

This will inevitably be connected to the previous verse, but the point in each case is contrary.
This contrast must be observed. A shift at this point by Qoheleth from the four illustrations or figures of speech found in verses 8-9, although obvious to some students, is either missed entirely by others, or if noticed at all, is dismissed as insignificant.

8 He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.
9 Whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby.

There is a difference between “shall be endangered” and “put to more strength.” The former indicates obvious danger consistent with the preceding four situations. The latter only refers to difficulty, i.e., an increased difficulty making it harder to get the job done, and as a result requiring more strength to be exerted in doing so.

This shift between verses 9 and 10, and what it entails becomes even more clear if the context is expanded slightly. The presence of a modified chiastic structure called an inclusio[2] that serves to bracket part of the context here becomes apparent when verse 11 is considered. When that is factored in a direct connection between the clause at the end of verse 8 and that at the beginning of verse 11 cannot be missed: “…a serpent shall bite….the serpent will bite…” This brings into sharp relief the indirect, or contrasting relationship between the clause at the end of verse 9, “cleaveth wood,” and the entirety of verse 10, “iron be blunt….whet the edge.”

The structure of 10:8-11 may be diagrammed to illustrate the bracketing effect of the  inclusio:

Verse:              8a-8b, 8c-8d, 9a-9b, 9c-9d — 10abc-10d,  11a-11b
Element:          (A-B,   C-)D,   (E-F,    G-)H —   H1-I,            D1(-J)

Another way that this can be illustrated is as follows:

8 He that diggeth a pit
shall fall into it;
            and whoso breaketh an hedge,
                        a serpent shall bite him.
                                                9 Whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith;
                                    and he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby.
                                                10 If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge,
                                    then must he put to more strength:
                                                but wisdom is profitable to direct.
                                11 Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment;
and a babbler is no better.

What is observed as bracketed in the 2nd half of the inclusio becomes the most significant, indeed, the central point:

“…but wisdom is profitable to direct.”

This is variously rendered in the modern translations:

NASB: Wisdom has the advantage of giving success.
ESV: but wisdom helps one to succeed.
HCSB: however, the advantage of wisdom is that it brings success.
NIV: but skill will bring success.
NLT: That’s the value of wisdom;  it helps you succeed.
YLT: And wisdom is advantageous to make right.

11 Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better.

enchantment

“The word Chever (חֶבֶר ), 'binding' or 'fascination,' is rendered enchantment in Isaiah 47:9; Isaiah 47:12, where reference is made to Babylon; and is rendered 'charmer' in Deuteronomy 18:11, also in Psalms 58:5, where the serpent charmer is referred to in the early part of the same verse, Lachash (לחשׁ ), to whisper, is used for the art of the serpent charmer, and is also used in the same connection in Jeremiah 8:17, and in Ecclesiastes 10:11, where the A. V. has 'enchantment.'”
— Robert Baker Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament: Their Bearing on Christian Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., n.d., 1976 reprint of 1897 ed.), pg. 301, s.v. Ch. XXVI. “Witchcraft, Divination, Soothsaying.” §5. The Soothsayer and Enchanter.[3]

Ps. 58:4-5 — 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; 5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.

Jer. 8:17 — For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the LORD.

In the diagram above the J element at the end of verse 11, “the babbler,” appears to embrace, or at least to introduce, the following four verses (12-15).

babbler

Lit. “tongue master” (two Heb. words);
KJV note: “Heb. the master of the tongue;”
HCSB note: “Lit. master of the tongue.”

II. The Danger of Foolishness (10:12-14)

12 The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. 13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. 14 A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?

12 The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. 13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. 14 A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?

12 The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.

gracious

Pr. 18:4 — The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.

Pr. 22:11 — He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.

Lk. 4:22 — And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?

Colossians 4:6 — Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Pr. 10:13-14 — 13 In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding. 14 Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

Pr. 10:31-32 — 31 The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out. 32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.

Pr. 18:6-7 — 6 A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. 7 A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.

Eccl. 4:5 — The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.

Jas. 1:26 — If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

James 3
5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.

merism — polar opposites = totality
— Donald R. Glenn, “Ecclesiastes,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, eds. J. F. Walvoord, and R. B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1985), I:1002.

The beginning:

Ps. 58:3 — The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

The end:

Eccl. 7:25 — I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:

Macbeth: “A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
— cited by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Ecclesiastes: Total Life, in Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1979), pg. 111, and note 6 citing John F. Genung, Words of Koheleth (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1904), pg. 336.

14 A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?

Eccl. 5:1-3 — 1 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. 2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. 3 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words.

Pr. 15:2 — The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.

Eccl. 3:22 — Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

Eccl. 6:12 — For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow?  for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

Eccl. 7:14 — In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.

Eccl. 8:7 — For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?

“Ecclesiastes’ scepticism resists most vigorously of all the certainty that man has the future within his power. This is impossible for two reasons. In the first place he cannot be sure what the circumstances of the future will be (Eccles.8.7):

He does not know what is to be,
for who can tell him how it will be?

Only the fool wastes many words about it (10.14):

Though no man knows what is to be,
for who can tell him what will be after him?

In the second place—and this is the main point—he does not even know what his own future is to be (8.8):

No man has power over the breath of life ( . . . ),
            or authority over the day of death;
there is no discharge from war,
            nor do riches[4] save the man who owns them.”

— Hans Walter Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament, trans. Margaret Kohl (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974; from Anthropologie des Alten Testaments, Munich: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1973), pg. 151, s.v. Ch. XVII, The Hope of Man, 2. The hidden nature of the future.

III. The Dog-Tiredness of Fools (10:15)

15 The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city.

“He wouldn’t know enough to come in out of the rain!”
— Donald R. Glenn, “Ecclesiastes,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, eds. J. F. Walvoord, and R. B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1985), I:1002; and William D. Barrick, Ecclesiastes: The Philippians of the Old Testament, Focus on the Bible series (Fearn, Ross-Shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2012), pg. 177 and note 39 citing Robert Gordis, Koheleth — The Man and His World: A Study of Ecclesiastes, 3rd ed. (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), pg. 324.

“He would get lost, we might say today, if you put him on an escalator.”
Derek Kidner, The Message of Ecclesiastes: A Time to Mourn, and a Time to Dance, in The Bible Speaks Today, Old Testament series ed. J. A. Motyer (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1976), pp. 92-93.

“To use another proverb, Why lock the barn door after the cow has gotten out?”
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Ecclesiastes: Total Life, in Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1979), pg. 109.

A modern military saying might not be so subtle! “If brains were dynamite you couldn’t blow your nose!”

Is. 35:1-10 (8) — 1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. 2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God. 3 Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. 4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. 7 And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. 8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. 9 No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: 10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Conclusion:

Christians as “snake charmers”

James 3

[Sermon preached 17 JUL 2016 by Pastor John T. “Jack” Jeffery at Wayside Gospel Chapel, Greentown, PA.]

Complete Outline:

I. The Direction of Wisdom (10:10-11)

II. The Danger of Foolishness (10:12-14)

III. The Dog-Tiredness of Fools (10:15)

Select Sources on Ecclesiastes:

J. Sidlow Baxter, Explore The Book: A Basic and Broadly Interpretive Course of Bible Study from Genesis to Revelation, 6 vols. in 1 ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, n.d., 1960 printing).

William D. Barrick, Ecclesiastes: The Philippians of the Old Testament, Focus on the Bible series (Fearn, Ross-Shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2012). Barrick’s lecture notes (PDF files) and audio (mp3) are on Dr Barrick at http://drbarrick.org/teaching/ecclesiastes/ [accessed 3 FEB 2016].

Charles Bridges, An Exposition of the Book of Ecclesiastes (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860); on Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/expositionofbook00bridrich [accessed 11 MAY 2015]; on Google Books at http://books.google.com/books?id=e4kOAQAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false [accessed 11 MAY 2015]; and linked on Precept Austin at http://preceptaustin.org/proverbs_commentaries.htm#cb [accessed 11 MAY 2015].

C. Hassell Bullock, An Introduction to the Old Testament Poetic Books: The Wisdom and Songs of Israel (Chicago: Moody Press, 1979).

Franz Delitzsch, “Commentary on The Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes,” trans. M. G. Easton, in Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes, C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Vol. VI: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon: Three Volumes in One (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., n.d., 1975 reprint), III:179-442.

Michael A. Eaton, Ecclesiastes: An Introduction and Commentary, Vol. 16, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 1983).

ESV Study Bible (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008).

Sinclair B. Ferguson. The Pundit's Folly: Chronicles of an Empty Life (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1995).

Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Vol. 14, New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman, 1993).

Donald R. Glenn, “Ecclesiastes,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, eds. J. F. Walvoord, and R. B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1985).

William Henry Green, “Scope and Plan of the Book of Ecclesiastes,” Biblical Reparatory and Princeton Review 29 (1857), pp. 419-40; on Gordon Faculty Online at http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/OTeSources/21-Ecclesiastes/Text/Articles/Green-ScopeofEccl-1857.pdf [accessed 7 NOV 2015].[5]

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Coping With Change: Ecclesiastes (Fearn, Roth-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2013).[6]

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Ecclesiastes: Total Life, in Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1979).

Derek Kidner, The Message of Ecclesiastes: A Time to Mourn, and a Time to Dance, in The Bible Speaks Today, Old Testament series ed. J. A. Motyer (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1976).

H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Ecclesiastes (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1952).

Tremper Longman III, The Book of Ecclesiastes, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997).

John MacArthur, MacArthur Study Bible, rev. ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997).

Tim Mackie, “The book of Ecclesiastes explained with illustrations,” on The Bible Project at http://www.jointhebibleproject.com [accessed 18 JUN 2016]; includes downloadable full resolution video (700+ mb), and poster; for the video see also “Read Scripture Ecclesiastes” (10 JUN 2016), on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrsQ1tc-2wk [accessed 18 JUN 2016].[7]

Roland Edmund Murphy, Ecclesiastes, Vol. 23A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, 1992).

New Geneva Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995).

John G. Reisinger, Studies in Ecclesiastes (Frederick, MD: New Covenant Media, 2008).

Philip Graham Ryken, Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters, in Preaching the Word, gen. ed. R. Kent Hughes (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010).

Philip G. Ryken, Why Everything Matters: The Gospel in Ecclesiastes (Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, Ltd., 2015).

Benjamin Shaw, “On Reading Ecclesiastes,” in The Hope Fulfilled: Essays in Honor of O. Palmer Robertson, ed. Robert L. Penny (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2008), pp. 47-58.

Peter B. Steese, ed., Ecclesiastes, gen. ed. Leonard F. Dean (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1966).

Tom V. Taylor, Studies in Ecclesiastes (Port Colborne, Ontario, CA: Gospel Folio Press, 2013).  See also the “Thomas V. Taylor Library” on the Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute at  http://www.taylorlib.ibri.org/ [accessed 27 NOV 2013].

Addison G. Wright, “The Riddle of the Sphinx: The Structure of the Book of Qoheleth,” in Reflecting with Solomon: Selected Studies on the Book of Ecclesiastes, ed. Roy B. Zuck (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), pp. 45-66; originally published in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 30 (1968), pp. 313-334.

J. Stafford Wright, “Ecclesiastes,” in Psalms-Song of Songs, Vol. 5, Expositor's Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991).

J. Stafford Wright, “The Interpretation of Ecclesiastes”, in Classical Evangelical Essays in Old Testament Interpretation, ed. Walter C. Kaiser Jr. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972), pp. 135-150; from J. Stafford Wright, “The Interpretation of Ecclesiastes,” Evangelical Quarterly 18 (1946), pp. 18-34; on Rediscovering the Bible at http://rediscoveringthebible.com/InterpretationOfEcclesiastes.html [accessed 7 MAY 2015].

Ronald F. Youngblood, “Qoheleth's 'Dark House' (Eccl. 12:5),” in A Tribute to Gleason Archer, eds. Walter C. Kaiser and Ronald F. Youngblood (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), pp.211-228; also published in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 29:4 (DEC 1986), pp. 397-410; on Biblical Studies at http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/29/29-4/29-4-pp397-410_JETS.pdf [accessed 4 APR 2016].






Notes:

[1] On these verses see especially: William D. Barrick, Ecclesiastes: The Philippians of the Old Testament, Focus on the Bible series (Fearn, Ross-Shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2012), pp. 175-177; Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Ecclesiastes: Total Life, in Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1979), pp. 108-111; and Derek Kidner, The Message of Ecclesiastes: A Time to Mourn, and a Time to Dance, in The Bible Speaks Today, Old Testament series ed. J. A. Motyer (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1976), pp. 91-93.

[2] Donald R. Glenn, “Ecclesiastes,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, eds. J. F. Walvoord, and R. B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1985), I:1001; and William D. Barrick, Ecclesiastes: The Philippians of the Old Testament, Focus on the Bible series (Fearn, Ross-Shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2012), pg. 176, and note 31; citing Sidney Greidanus, Preaching Christ from Ecclesiastes: Foundations for Expository Sermons (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), pp. 241-242.

[3] On Study Light at http://www.studylight.org/lexicons/gos/view.cgi?n=95 [accessed 13 JUL 2016]; and on NTS Library at http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Books%20II/Girdlestone%20-%20Synomyns%20of%20the%20OT.pdf [accessed 13 JUL 2016]; in an earlier edition, Robert Baker Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament: Their Bearing on Christian Faith and Practice (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1871), pg. 479, s.v. Ch. XXVIII. “Witch, Diviner, Familiar Spirit, Magician.” §9; on Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/synonymsofoldtes00gird [accessed 13 JUL 2016]; and on Google Books at https://books.google.com/books?id=D3YcA72rnqQC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false [accessed 13 JUL 2016]. Note the characters from the ANE languages including Hebrew did not make it intact into the digital edition s on Study Light and NTS Library.

[4] Wolff’s endnote 7 here is documented on pg. 247: “Cf. BHK and W. Zimmerli, Prediger, p.216.” These are: Biblia Hebraica,3 ed. R. Kittel, and Prediger/H. Ringgren, Spruche, Das Alte Testament Deutsch 16/1, 1962, pp. 123-53. Wolff, op. cit., pp. 270, and 271.

[5] Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. inexplicably refers to this as an “unsigned article” on at least two occasions in his commentary despite the facts that: 1) William Henry Green is clearly indicated as the author under the title on the first page of the article (pg. 419), and 2) one of his own faculty members (Ted Hildebrandt) has posted the article on the school’s web site where Kaiser served as both faculty member and President. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Ecclesiastes: Total Life, in Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1979); and Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Coping With Change: Ecclesiastes (Fearn, Roth-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2013).

[6] Although not indicated on the copyright page, this appears in all respects to be a revised edition (2nd ed.) of the Moody Press 1979 original. The relationship to the original is referenced in the “Preface,” where the author mentions the inclusion of his own translation of Ecclesiastes in this revision as one significant change. “Dale Ralph Davis compares the two and says, “the ‘bones’ are much the same but the whole has been updated and expanded.” Source: Tim Challies, “Best Commentaries on Ecclesiastes” (18 NOV 2013), on Challies at http://www.challies.com/resources/best-commentaries-on-ecclesiastes [accessed 7 NOV 2015].

[7] “This video explores the main ideas and flow of thought of the book of Ecclesiastes.
The Bible Project is a non-profit creating animated videos that explain the narrative of the Bible. These videos are free to use for personal and educational purposes. Download a full resolution version of this video along with a study guide at www.jointhebibleproject.com.”
“About the author: Tim Mackie is a Pastor of Door of Hope church and a Professor at Western Seminary - timmackie.com”