A good ruler chooses his important officials carefully. He gives authority to people who are loyal, honest and capable. His desire is that they will govern the country well.
But a ruler who becomes too powerful does not always act in a sensible manner. Often such a ruler gives important jobs to his friends whether they are capable or not. If the ruler is foolish enough to do that, his friends are probably fools too (see Ecclesiastes 10:16-17). In the Bible, a ‘fool’ means someone who cares only about his own pleasure. He does not serve God and he does not care about other people.
When a ruler gives authority to fools, better people lose their important jobs. Ecclesiastes 10:6 refers to ‘rich’ people. In Ecclesiastes 10:20, that word describes people who are almost as great as the king himself. But this foolish ruler takes away their wealth, authority and importance.
Perhaps the ruler does these things merely to prove how powerful he is. It is hard to imagine any other reason for his actions in Ecclesiastes 10:7. The word ‘princes’ there does not merely mean members of the royal family. The word means the most important officials, including the judges and the leader of the army. But these great men now work as slaves. And they must give honour to men who formerly were themselves slaves.
But no human ruler has complete authority, even in this world. God has authority over every ruler. He gives honour to humble people, and he takes away the authority of proud people (Luke 1:51-53). He has to do that. Powerful rulers in this world have given authority and responsibility to the wrong people (Mark 10:42). But when God rules, he will correct all these things (Revelation 20:4).
Next part: Lessons about danger (Ecclesiastes 10:8-9)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.