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