Like dead flies in perfumer’s oil, the writer of Ecclesiastes aptly proclaims that a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. Sometimes fools are elevated to positions of power, while those who are fit for the position are given no influence. The Preacher says, “I have seen slaves on horses, and princes walking on the ground like slaves” (Ecclesiastes 10:7).
It’s not difficult to nod our heads and say “Amen” when we come to this example of an “evil under the sun.” We probably all have a story to tell about a leader who wasn’t fit for a position and about the injustices we endured under their authority. When a fool is set up as an authority figure, everyone suffers.
The Preacher gives a suggestion, though: “If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place, for calmness will lay great offenses to rest” (Ecclesiastes 10:4). This doesn’t just tell us we should have a posture of humility and obedience before bad leaders. We should also teach them by responding with love and humility—something that may calm even the worst of fools.
In Hebrews, we find the context for this. We stand naked and exposed to God, who judges our thoughts and the intentions of our hearts. On our own, sin and guilt would condemn us. But we have a high priest in Jesus Christ. He intercedes for us, just as the Old Testament high priests interceded for the people of Israel. Our confidence is not in our own wisdom and righteousness, but in Him.
We can’t credit ourselves for our own wisdom. We stand before God on account of His Son’s righteousness and obedience. Jesus is the one who is able to withstand our folly. We stand in His righteousness, and we can learn from His obedience.