Ecclesiastes 10:11-14: Words and Wisdom

Read: Ecclesiastes 10:11-14

The fool has one of two things: action without wisdom or words without wisdom. In either case, there is something without wisdom. Earlier, the preacher had given a number of warnings as to why one should think before acting. By way of analogy with a snake charmer, the preacher illustrates action without wisdom. If a snake bites a person, there is no reason to call in the charmer to charm the snake. The preacher points out that once one has acted, there is no reason to call in one who is wise because the damage has already been done. Likewise, fools talk way too much and there words are destructive. On the other hand, the words of a wise person are calm (Proverbs 16:21-24), few (Proverbs 10:19), and build up a person (Proverbs 12:8). What appears to the case for both words and deeds is that without wisdom, destruction is certainly the outcome.

James in his book of wisdom talks about words being spoken by the tongue (the part of the body associated with speech) to a great extent. James talks about the power of the tongue comparing to the rudder of a ship that steers the ship in a particular direction or like a bit in the mouth of a horse that directs the beast in a particular direction. He says it is like a fire that can set a forest ablaze (James 3:1-12). The sort of power that tongue has is huge, and this power can be destructive or it can be a blessing. James says that the tongue can utterly corrupt the one wielding the words. Paul in Colossians 4:5-6 encourages his readers to be wise in the manner they deal with outsiders and to let their conversation be seasoned with grace. Using words appropriately to build up, teach, and bless others truly is the wise way to use words.

For these reasons, Christians should first be willing to consider the words of the wise before jumping into action. Having wisdom can prevent unnecessary harm and it is therefore wise to ask for wisdom and to seek it out. Likewise, one should not be anxious to speak either. Being hotheaded or a babbler can lead to destruction as well. Letting one’s words be calm, few, and for the purpose of encouragement and blessing results in a much better outcome that letting words fly unreserved.

Lord, let wisdom guide my action and words!