Protected from Foolishness (Ecclesiastes 10:1) - Radical

Protected from Foolishness (Ecclesiastes 10:1)

“Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.”
– Ecclesiastes 10:1

What imagery and what truth packed into this little verse. Let me read it again because it kind of catches you off guard from the very beginning, but listen to it. “Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench.” The picture is something small, little, but rank can ruin something beautiful. Perfumer’s ointment starts giving off a stench when there’s dead flies on it, “So a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.” Oh, a little folly on wisdom and honor is like dead flies on a perfumer’s ointment.

Ecclesiastes 10:1 Exposes Our Foolishness

Doesn’t this make you want nothing to do with folly and in a sense, make you afraid of even a little folly to realize that a little folly can outweigh wisdom and honor? I read this and I think, “God keep me from all folly, please.” Even a little old folly, even a little moment here or there where I think or say something or do something that is foolish. I want to avoid foolishness with everything in me as I read this verse, don’t you? Doesn’t this lead us then to pray that God would guard us from folly? Let’s do that as we think about our days, let’s do that as we think about our days, that God would keep us. Let’s do that as we think about our days.

Ecclesiastes 10:1 Helps Us to Walk in Wisdom

Oh God, we want to walk and live in wisdom and honor in every facet of our lives. When we are alone, when we are with others, God, in our lives, our families, our work, and the world around us, we want to live with wisdom and honor for all those of us you’ve entrusted with leadership responsibilities, whether it’s leadership as a parent or as a friend or in work, in school, whatever it might be. God, we want to lead with wisdom and honor. Please keep us from all folly.

God, I pray, God, we pray, that you would keep us from little folly. You would deliver us from little folly, knowing that we are prone to folly. We are prone to foolishness. We are prone to say things quickly that are not wise or honoring to you or honoring to others. We’re prone to think things that are not wise and honorable, to desire, things that are not wise and honorable, we’re prone to do things that are not wise and honorable. We confess our tendency toward foolishness and we pray that you would deliver us from all folly, from a little folly. Help us to live continually in wisdom and honor.

God Helps Us to Recognize Sin

And God in those moments, when we do give in to folly, we pray that we would be quick to recognize it, that it would snowball, that we would run from it, that just as if we were to see a dead fly on a perfumer’s ointment, that we would get rid of it as quickly as we can and we would be quick to confess, that we would be quick to recognize and confess and turn from, run from foolishness. God, we pray that in our lives a little folly would not outweigh wisdom and honor, but that wisdom and honor would outweigh folly by far. In Jesus’ name, we pray, amen.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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