The Dangers Of Digging Pits
A daily devotion for February 23rd
1 As dead flies give perfume a bad smell,
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
2 The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
but the heart of the fool to the left.
3 Even as he walks along the road,
the fool lacks sense
and shows everyone how stupid he is.
4 If a ruler's anger rises against you,
do not leave your post;
calmness can lay great errors to rest.
5 There is an evil I have seen under the sun,
the sort of error that arises from a ruler:
6 Fools are put in many high positions,
while the rich occupy the low ones.
7 I have seen slaves on horseback,
while princes go on foot like slaves.
8 Whoever digs a pit may fall into it;
whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.
9 Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them;
whoever splits logs may be endangered by them.
10 If the ax is dull
and its edge unsharpened,
more strength is needed
but skill will bring success.
11 If a snake bites before it is charmed,
there is no profit for the charmer.
12 Words from a wise man's mouth are gracious,
but a fool is consumed by his own lips.
13 At the beginning his words are folly;
at the end they are wicked madness-
14 and the fool multiplies words.
No one knows what is coming—
who can tell him what will happen after him?
15 A fool's work wearies him;
he does not know the way to town.
Whoever digs a pit may fall into it; whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them; whoever splits logs may be endangered by them. (Ecclesiastes 10:8-9)
In the next section, the Searcher returns to wisdom to describe the kinds of insights that wisdom will embrace. First, there is a section on avoiding dangers, understanding that certain situations have inherent dangers.
Few of us are ever going to be involved extensively in digging pits, breaking down walls, quarrying stones, or splitting logs. But Solomon is not talking only about actual physical situations; these are also descriptive, symbolic of the things we do to each other. Did you ever dig a pit for somebody, laying a trap to embarrass, injure, or make that person look bad in some way, only to find that you yourself were trapped by the situation you had designed? Wisdom understands that when you dig a pit, you too are in danger; you may fall into it yourself.
Wisdom understands that when you try to break down some wall of obstruction that keeps you from getting at someone or something, you are in danger, for hidden in that wall is a serpent that will bite you. Many have discovered that in heavy-handedly trying to break down somebody's resistance, they have triggered a serpent within themselves that flashes up in anger and leads to hurtful, dangerous things. They themselves have been bitten.
Whoever quarries stones, who attempts to remove something of value, to dig out something that will be of great personal use and profit, has to remember that he or she can be hurt by that. Those who
quarry may get what they want, but it will be the worst thing that could happen to them. Psalm 106 says of the Israelites in the wilderness,
He gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them (Psalm 106:15).
Whoever splits logs may be endangered by them. Here is the same principle. The idea is that care must be exercised in all these attempts to do things that may endanger you as well.
Then there are two verses on how wisdom enlists help in time:
If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success (Ecclesiastes 10:10). If you do not think through what you are going to do and sharpen the edge of your approaches, considering carefully how you are going to go about something, you will only expend a lot of effort and find yourself worn out in the process. But wise people, understanding the need for sharpness and clarity, will whet the edge of their thought before they attempt something, and thus succeed.
How many times, Father, have I tried to do something in my own strength and been injured in the process? In all my endeavors, may I rely on Your wisdom.
Life Application: Without thinking we follow the secular wisdom around us, wisdom that looks good and feels right, but nevertheless is foolishness. What about the wisdom of the Word?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.