As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. Even as he walks along the road, the fool lacks sense and shows everyone how stupid he is.
If a ruler’s anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great errors to rest.
There is an evil I have seen under the sun, the sort of error that arises from a ruler: Fools are put in many high positions, while the rich occupy the low ones. I have seen slaves on horseback, while princes go on foot like slaves.
Whoever digs a pit may fall into it; whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them; whoever splits logs may be endangered by them. If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success. If a snake bites before it is charmed, there is no profit for the charmer.
Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips. At the beginning his words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness— and the fool multiplies words. No one knows what is coming—who can tell him what will happen after him? A fool’s work wearies him; he does not know the way to town.
Woe to you, O land whose king was a servant and whose princes feast in the morning. Blessed are you, O land whose king is of noble birth and whose princes eat at a proper time— for strength and not for drunkenness.
If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks.
A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.
Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.
In this chapter there are more juicy proverbs to chew on. “A little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.” Foolishness bears more influence on the outcome than wisdom; so to accomplish something significant, you need pure wisdom, which is very difficult to achieve. One fool wreaks havoc on an entire organization. Purge fools from your list of advisers. One foolish act can ruin your entire career and reputation—no matter how much you are capable of. Yet if you screw up, your hope of recovery lies in a calm response to the executives. Hasty retreat will lead to ruin.
A real fool, though, is obvious to all—like the dummies you see in comedies. You can detect them even from their swagger or waddle. Wise people speak wise words; foolish people speak foolishness. Fools are impressed with themselves and talk too much. They leave a trail of chaos behind them everywhere they go. Fools are lazy. Don’t speak nonsense as if you knew the future. Pray that rulers will be responsible and their followers stay away from alcohol and illegal drugs. A company will prosper if its leaders are sober, serious, and dedicated, not if they abuse the expense account.
Fools put in a position of power is tragic but frequent. Positions of authority are often granted unfairly, especially in middle management. We shouldn’t be surprised about the disappointing behavior of our politicians; it’s been that way for thousands of years.
Beware hazards at work; it is wise to follow OHSA standards. If an accident occurs prior to earnings, you get nothing. It is wise to follow regulations to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic, not so much because of risk to yourself but because many people spurning the rules ensures exponential growth of the affected, hurting other people. It is not wise to drag out the length of the shelter-in-place orders, costing many people their livelihoods, homes, family stability, and psychological health.
It is possible to compensate for poor tools with human skill, but better to combine both with high technology. Working smart results in less effort for the reward (but less effort doesn’t mean no effort!)
It is a fact of life that people generally respond to economic incentives, an outstanding predictor of human behavior. This is the truth being expressed with ironic hyperbole in “money is the answer to everything.” It is an observation about how the world operates, not an imperative. Money gets people what they want, including good food, drink, and relaxation, as well as essential health care and influence over other people. “Money is the answer” is also a snarky remark (witty sarcasm); in other words, money is not the answer to everything.
Beware what you say in secret. It will leak out, or you yourself will leak it out. Don’t vent frustration about executives—it will get you into trouble. No one can keep their thinking to themselves forever, and it is literally impossible for a man to hide his thoughts from his wife.
Updating this to the New Covenant, it is wise to follow Jesus 100% without compromise. Compromise leads to disaster. Live with integrity like Jesus, who didn’t seize anything for Himself but had nowhere to lay His head (see Luke 9:57-62). Live in the peace of Jesus, not in fear, because perfect love casts out all fear (see I John 4:7-21). The world cares excessively about money, but serve God.