Dead Flies and Foolishness

An exposition of Ecclesiastes 10:1-20. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, October 3, 2010.

I read this week about a couple who went to their local dealership to pick up the their new car.  When they arrived they were told, “It is going to be a few minutes the keys got locked in the vehicle.”  When they went to where the car was sitting they noticed a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the driver’s side door.  Instinctively they tried the handle on the passenger side and the door opened.  The man said, “Hey, it’s open.”  The mechanic, somewhat miffed, said, “I know – I already got that side!”  Don’t you wonder how people like that keep a job, much less get a job to start with?  Years ago when we moved to Ponca City to pastor Longwood Baptist Church we had a group of men from the church move us.  They rented a truck and came to Pawnee loaded us up and moved us to Ponca.  After several hours it was time for lunch.  They didn’t want to stop so I said, “Let me just go up the road to Taco Bell and get you something.”  Rheadon wrote down what everyone wanted and I went to Taco Bell.  I walked in alone.  The store was empty.  The smiling young girl behind the counter said, “Can I help you?”  I said, “Yes you can.  I need 12 tacos; 4 burrito supremes; 2 bean burritos; a taco salad and a large nachos.”  She looked me right in the eye and said, “Is that for here or to go?”  I said, “Here, and give me a diet Pepsi I’m watching my weight!”  A little foolishness goes a long way.  Sometimes you just have to laugh but being a fool is not a laughing matter.

Solomon, near the end of his days, took time to look back over his life and see what he had learned.  What great lessons could he pass on to those who would follow?  Is there some great truth that could undergird and prove sufficient for sustaining life?  His thoughts are recorded for us in the book of Ecclesiastes.  Solomon wrote The Song of Solomon as a young man.  There he celebrated the bliss of marital love.  At mid-life he wrote the book of Proverbs extolling the virtues of wisdom and knowledge.  Now as an old man he is considering that one great truth he wants those who follow after him to know.  He says, “I sought for joy and satisfaction through intellectual pursuits and came up wanting.  I then sought it through pleasure.  I denied myself nothing.  If my eye desired it – I partook of it.  If I longed for it – I indulged it.  But I only found passing pleasure and momentary joy – in the end I was empty.  I then tried material possessions and professional advancement but it was like chasing the wind.  It was all in vain.”  In fact he concluded that life under the sun was a vain, empty existence.  The only real joy, the only lasting pleasure, genuine satisfaction was to be found in God and in God alone.  For God gives good gifts to everyone and to His people He give the ability to enjoy all things.  His conclusion?  Eat, drink and enjoy your labors for this is your position in life.  That’s not a cop out.  That’s not “settling.”  It’s understanding that because God is good and God is sovereign the Christian finds deep, satisfying joy in even the simplest things in life.

In chapter 10 he comes to deal with the disastrous effects of folly.  Our text this morning is the tenth chapter of Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes 10:1-20

9 times in these 20 verses he uses the term folly, fool or foolishness.
When you first approach this text it seems as if the Preacher is all over the map.
One might conclude that it is just incoherent rambling – but that’s not it at all.

As one writer put it, “With an onslaught of proverbs the Preacher hammers home his point with many nails.”

With his repeated warning that the wise and the foolish end at the same place – the grave – one might conclude, “So why bother to be wise?”  If it all amounts to vanity and striving after wind why not play the fool?  Solomon’s point is not that all of life is vanity.  He is not suggesting there is no joy in life.  Or that there is no benefit to living a wise and prudent life.  His point is that it is vain to expect to find joy anywhere other than in God himself.  All things consider there is great benefit in living wisely and all things considered there is great heartache accompanying the life of a fool.

The words of the Preacher warn of the danger that accompanies the way of the fool in hopes of steering us down the way of hard work and honest good sense.

I want us to break this chapter down into two parts.

  1. The principle stated – (10:1-3)
  2. The way of the fool defined – (10:4-20)
    1. The way of the fool lacks discernment – 10:4-7
    2. The way of the fool marked by presumption and thus filled with danger – 10:8-11
    3. The way of the fool is filled with senseless talk – 10:12-15
    4. The way of the fool is marked by carelessness – 10:16-20

What is the message of the Preacher to us?  It is that we not live for ourselves and not according to our own agenda but that we live as a people who love God, find our joy in Him and seek to live the Gospel we proclaim.

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