When making perfume, miniscule amounts of various extracts are added to create the most appealing mixture of scents and notes. The addition of something foul to something good can overwhelm the entire mixture and turn it. Such as with the verse “a little leaven leavens the whole loaf” (Gal 5:9). In v.2 a wise man is associated with the right hand, whereas the fool is associated with the left, the right is told as the place of protection and effectiveness. The left is the place of ineffectiveness with no protection. Jesus sits at the right hand of the father, it is the place of honour. (Rom 8:34). I can see how this easily applies to how we should not just be living a Godly life, but we should appear to live a Godly life. Christians aren’t perfect, that’s why we need the grace of God, but many use our imperfect behaviours as a negative example of the entire religion. Our relationship is to God in our hearts, but we do Him a disservice if our actions and words do not reflect that heart for Him. I’d rather have a reputation as that lame girl who doesn’t swear, than the more popular girl with the foul mouth. I need to consider all my actions, and reflect on those that bring glory to God, and those that don’t to ask the Lord for strength to overcome them.
Fool here is “kesil” which is someone who hates wisdom and knowledge and produces folly. The babbling of a fool is like digging a hole, you can’t dig yourself out of a hole so it just gets worse and worse. The more the fool talks the worse it gets. We should use caution and forethought in what we say, speaking out of the love of God. This builds up ourselves and those around us, the alternative is to speak ill as a fool and tear others down, including damaging ourselves.
The last few verses reflect the effect of an incompetent leader. Whether as an employer/boss/manager, pastor, or parent, or leader of a small group, or any position where one is looked up to by others. That role of leadership can either have great fruit, or do great damage to those under its umbrella. When the teaching/leadership is of God, teachers will be judged more strongly (James 3:1). There is a reason that so many brilliant ventures fail so poorly, those brilliant people with lots of support and education under them making the decisions made the wrong ones. In big business or government those bad choices have resounding impact to all employees or citizens below. I need to rely on God when faced with decisions, not myself, or my training, or education, or friends, or family but God first. Only He knows the ultimate plan in place for this world and only He has the power to help me make the right choices.
1 Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour. 2 A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left. 3 Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool. 4 If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences. 5 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the ruler: 6 Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place. 7 I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth. 8 He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him. 9 Whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby. 10 If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct. 11 Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better. 12 The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. 13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. 14 A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him? 15 The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city. 16 Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning! 17 Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!
18 By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through. 19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things. 20 Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.