Pattern of Proverbs
Solomon returns to the pattern of writing with proverbial sayings in Ecclesiastes 10. Like the book of Proverbs, many statements initially appear disconnected. Topically these proverbs are related, though they are not sequential.
Ecclesiastes 10 Outline
Guard your reputation
Foolishness spoils reputations
The direction of your life is on display.
Confront anger with composure.
Foolishness inverts social order.
Stay alert to avoid occupational hazards.
The fool destroys himself.
Eaten by his own words.
His tongue lacks restraint.
His work lacks direction.
King’s character impacts kingdom’s success.
Exercise diligence and discretion.
Money trumps mirth.
Respect authority. Watch your words.
Character, Work, and Words
Solomon opens with advice regarding personal character (10:1-4), showing that words and motives impact reputation. He revisits personal character with a negative example of the fool who destroys himself with unrestrained words and negligent work (10:12-15).
Woven into this chapter are valuable insights into work. Work with diligence and avoid laziness (10:15, 10:18). Know the dangers associated with your job, and stay alert to avert personal injury (10:8-11). While wisdom can make you successful (10:10), some jobs are best left alone (10:11).
Respect for authority is the third thread of Ecclesiastes 10. Rulers do make mistakes, putting the wrong people in charge (10:5-7). Solomon connects the personal character of rulers with the fortunes of the countries they govern (10:16-17).
Finally, words bind the chapter. Respond with calmness when an authority is angry with you (10:4). And do not curse a ruler, even in private, lest your words be repeated (10:20).