Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part VII: Advice On Living This Life In View Of Man's Limitations To Find Meaning In It
E. Living With The Uncertainty Of What Will Occur In Our Futures
3. Adjusting To The Fact That Criticizing Others Is Risky Due To Our Ignorance Of The Future
(Ecclesiastes 10:12-20 with 12:13-14)
  1. Introduction
    1. No one knows all about his future, so no one can plan well enough to avoid all future adversity in his life.
    2. In view of this ignorance of the future, Solomon reveals we should not make it our mission in life to criticize others, for criticizing eventually only harms ourselves: Ecclesiastes 10:12-20 with Solomon's final conclusion in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 offers us a better path and gives us reasons for doing so:
  2. Adjusting To The Fact That Criticizing Others Is Risky Due To Our Ignorance Of The Future.
    1. The Hebrew text provides "few verbal links" between the two parts of Ecclesiastes 10:12-20, the first part in verses 12-15 and the second part in verses 16-20, cf. Bible Knowledge Commentary, O.T., p. 1001.
    2. Yet, both parts are joined and then climaxed by verse 20 where Solomon warns against criticizing rulers, and a clear progression of this theme appears in these two parts, and that with a lesson as follows (Ibid.):
      1. First, multiplying words that criticize others, a practice that eventually leads to criticizing dangerous people in power is foolish in that it is only self-destructive, Ecclesiastes 10:12-15 with 10:20:
        1. On the one hand, a wise man's words tend to win him favor in his relationships, Ecclesiastes 10:12.
        2. Conversely, a foolish man's criticisms that alienate him from good relationships backfire to his own harm: (1) his words "from start to finish" (Ibid., p. 1002) are wicked irrationality, 10:13 [the Heb. holelut pictures "the irrational aspect of insanity," cf. Harris, Archer & Waltke, Theol. Wordbk, of the O.T., v. I, p. 219; Kittel, Bib. Hebr. , p. 1226]. So, the foolish man harms his credibility by the evil irrationality of his words! (2) Then, a foolish man enhances his relationship problems by multiplying his words of evil irrationality, 10:14. (3) Besides, he is ignorant even of the obvious in life (like his not knowing the way to town), so his many evil and irrational words only fire about like a dangerous "loose canon," 10:15. (4) Thus, a fool's "loose canon" of words eventually criticizes powerful rulers to their fury, and that backfires to his own harm, Eccles. 10:12-15, 20!
      2. Second, criticizing even wasteful, bad leaders risks harm to one's self, Eccles. 10:16-19 with 10:20:
        1. In Ecclesiastes 10:16-19, Solomon gave some proverbs on the ill effects of wasteful leadership, Ibid.
        2. (1) On the one hand, a land is full of woe when its king is like an undisciplined, inadequate child and its princes become drunk in the morning so they can not lead well, 10:16. (2) Conversely, the land is blessed whose king is able and disciplined and whose princes feast at the right time, 10:17!
        3. Then, in the case of bad leaders, Solomon revealed lazy, wasteful leaders assume money rather than disciplined, competent leadership is all they need to succeed, but their rule is ruined, 10:19, 18; Ibid.
        4. Nevertheless, even to criticize such a bad administration is risky: news of the criticism will reach the ears of the bad leaders who will react by using their power to exact revenge on the critic, 10:20.
    3. Hence, Solomon's words and final conclusion to Ecclesiastes directs us to helpful insight re: criticism:
      1. God's purpose for man is that he respect so as to obey God in view of his eternal accounting, 12:13-14.
      2. Thus, as making criticism one's calling in life is risky in view of our ignorance of the future (where many critical words will eventually attack powerful, vengeance-exacting rulers, and thus backfire to our harm), we should focus on respecting and obeying God, and criticize only as He leads us to do so!
      3. In concrete terms, this means we should criticize only when we are in the position that God clearly opens up for us to do so, and when we "practice what we ourselves preach," cf. Matthew 7:1-4, 5.
Lesson: Making criticism that harms relationships our calling in life is risky, for multiplying words of criticism EVENTUALLY leads to our foolishly attacking even bad rulers who will retaliate to our harm. Rather, we should focus on respecting and heeding God, letting Him lead re: criticizing, Matthew 7:1-5.

Application: Though our CRITICISM may be RIGHT, we should NOT ALWAYS VOICE it, for doing so will eventually return to harm us, Matthew 7:1-2. Rather, we should make our life's mission that of respecting and so heeding God, and let HIM guide us as to the Biblical role of criticism, Matthew 7:1-5.