Useful Bible Studies > Ecclesiastes Commentary > chapter 10

When even your thoughts can be dangerous

Ecclesiastes 10:20

It is easy to feel angry about the rulers of your country. But it is not always sensible, even if they are doing many wrong things. Because they are rich and powerful, they can use that power against you. They have the right to give orders, and other people will obey them. It is not a good idea to have powerful enemies.

Perhaps you are careful about your words in public. But you say whatever you want in private. That too can be unwise. You never know who may be listening. You may never know who informed your rich enemies about your words. It would be better never to say those words. In fact, it would be wiser not even to think those thoughts. If your king is cruel and powerful, you do not want him to oppose you.

Your secret thoughts cannot change the king’s attitudes. Even if you decide to oppose him publicly, your actions are unlikely to have any effect. When rulers are very wicked, political action usually achieves nothing. A very evil person hates good advice (Proverbs 15:12). A wise person needs to understand when he should remain silent (Ecclesiastes 3:7).

The birds in this verse are just a word-picture. The idea is that someone may be listening to you at all times. You can never really be sure when you are alone. Your private words matter, even as your public words matter. Even your thoughts can be dangerous.

Next part: Future troubles are certain (Ecclesiastes 11:1)


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© 2019, Keith Simons.