1 As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink,
so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor.
2 A wise person chooses the right road;
a fool takes the wrong one.
3 You can identify fools
just by the way they walk down the street!
4 If your boss is angry at you, don’t quit!
A quiet spirit can overcome even great mistakes.
The Ironies of Life
5 There is another evil I have seen under the sun. Kings and rulers make a grave mistake 6 when they give great authority to foolish people and low positions to people of proven worth. 7 I have even seen servants riding horseback like princes—and princes walking like servants!
8 When you dig a well,
you might fall in.
When you demolish an old wall,
you could be bitten by a snake.
9 When you work in a quarry,
stones might fall and crush you.
When you chop wood,
there is danger with each stroke of your ax.
10 Using a dull ax requires great strength,
so sharpen the blade.
That’s the value of wisdom;
it helps you succeed.
11 If a snake bites before you charm it,
what’s the use of being a snake charmer?
12 Wise words bring approval,
but fools are destroyed by their own words.
13 Fools base their thoughts on foolish assumptions,
so their conclusions will be wicked madness;
14 they chatter on and on.
No one really knows what is going to happen;
no one can predict the future.
15 Fools are so exhausted by a little work
that they can’t even find their way home.
16 What sorrow for the land ruled by a servant,[a]
the land whose leaders feast in the morning.
17 Happy is the land whose king is a noble leader
and whose leaders feast at the proper time
to gain strength for their work, not to get drunk.
18 Laziness leads to a sagging roof;
idleness leads to a leaky house.
19 A party gives laughter,
wine gives happiness,
and money gives everything!
20 Never make light of the king, even in your thoughts.
And don’t make fun of the powerful, even in your own bedroom.
For a little bird might deliver your message
and tell them what you said.
- 10:16 Or a child.