Honor is Not Seemly for a Fool
As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest,
so honour is not seemly for a fool.
1. This proverb makes one simple point concerning the unseemliness of giving honor to a fool.
2. There are 13 similes (using like or as) in this chapter – most of them comparing fools to various things.
A. Snow in Summer
1. Snow does not normally fall in the summer time… especially in Israel. It doesn’t normally fall there in the winter!
2. It would be a highly unusual event if it snowed in the summer.
3. Such a freak storm would also probably be upsetting in many ways:
a. That’s their tourist season, and they would not be equipped to handle a snow storm.
b. It would ruin their crops. The farmers would not be happy.
c. It could be dangerous too; it could cause many accidents.
d. People would not be prepared for such an event. It would catch them by surprise and would basically be a pain in the neck.
e. It could have some very tragic results.
B. Rain in Harvest
1. Rain during the growing season is normal, expected, and desirable.
2. But rain during the time when all are in the fields bringing in the sheaves would not be normal, expected, or desirable.
3. It too would be considered a pain in the neck. It would be upsetting.
4. It might cause them to lose a day’s work and put them behind schedule.
5. Snow in summer or rain harvest would not be appropriate.
6. It’s not the way it should be.
7. That would be the view of those living in that region of the world.
1. Such things would be upsetting, damaging, have tragic consequences, would be undesirable, would be inappropriate, and would not be the way things should be.
Honor for a Fool
1. Giving a fool a position of honor is snow in summer and rain in harvest.
2. It too would be upsetting, damaging, have tragic consequences, would be undesirable, would be inappropriate, and would not be the way things should be.
a. In this context, the word “honor” means: respect, external recognition of worth, glory, accolades, advancement to high position.
b. Who gets all the recognition, accolades and glory in this country? It is not always those who deserve it.
a. Defined: Beautiful; becometh; comely; lovely; fitting; appropriate; proper for a situation.
b. Usage: Ps. 147:1 – “Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.”
c. Praise to God is beautiful, lovely, fitting, proper, and appropriate… because God is worthy.
d. Putting a fool in a place of honor is not beautiful, lovely, fitting, proper, and appropriate… because the fool is not worthy.
e. There is something especially unseemly and inappropriate about a fool in an honorable position. Fools and honor do not belong in the same sentence.
5. It is unseemly for a fool to be teaching in the classroom.
a. Yet we have many such fools teaching our kids in America.
b. Ward Churchill comes to mind.
i. He was the Colorado professor who said, “that the September 11, 2001 attacks were a natural and unavoidable consequence of what he views as unlawful US policy, and he referred to the "technocratic corps" working in the World Trade Center as "little Eichmanns.”
c. Recently I heard of teachers in public schools teaching from a book that rewrites history.
i. Instead of viewing Thanksgiving in its context of offering thanks to the Creator for His bounty, the book described Thanksgiving as a “time for the predominate white race to rejoice over potential genocide.”
ii. There is something very unseemly about putting radical fools in charge of teaching our children.
d. And think about the tragic consequences!
i. An unexpected snow storm can cause a lot of problems.
ii. A radical teacher in the classroom can cause many more problems. It can over time ruin a country.
iii. Talk about something that is undesirable and inappropriate—here is a perfect example.
6. There is something unseemly about fools in positions of political power.
a. Yet it happens all the time. Fools are honored by being given political positions—either through a military coup, nepotism, or being voted in.
b. Dan. 4:17 – “…the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” God allows the basest of men—even fools—to gain positions of power.
c. Just read the Bible… or world history and consider some of the kings God allowed to hold political power over nations: Ahab, Herod, Nero, Stalin, etc.
d. Some of these fools starved their own people… shot their own people… and in spite of it all, remained in their position of “honor.” There is something unseemly about that.
e. There have been many tragic consequences of bloodthirsty fools in positions of political power.
i. Consider the killing fields in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge regime. Over a million people slaughtered.
ii. Consider the 2-4 million Ukrainians starved to death during Stalin’s reign.
f. When foolish men are put in honorable positions of power, tragedy usually follows.
7. It is unseemly to have fools preaching from pulpits.
a. But this too happens all the time.
b. There are many fools preaching bizarre doctrines: Mormons and their thousands of gods; charismatics and their visions and so called miracles; Catholic superstitions—scapulars.
c. And a lot closer to home theologically, there are some men in the ministry who shouldn’t be.
d. There is something unseemly about all of this.
8. There is something unseemly about a fool being honored with a promotion at work that he did not deserve.
a. Everyone in the office knows that he didn’t deserve it; everyone knows who should have received it; yet there is nothing they can do about it.
b. This too is inappropriate—like snow in summer. It’s not supposed to turn out this way.
c. And this too can have tragic results—a lack of confidence in the management; lack of morale; loss of incentive to do your best; etc.
9. Normally (all things being equal), those who are wise prosper. And we often consider prosperity and success as something honorable. We look up to a Donald Trump or a Prince Charles.
a. But that is not always the case that those in what is considered a place of honor (the wealthy; successful; royalty) are necessarily wise.
b. Sometimes fools prosper in business just by being lucky.
c. Sometimes royal families have foolish sons who find themselves in positions of honor… that is not deserved.
d. Very often, the wealthy obtain their wealth through inheritance. (Ecc. 2:18-19) Here Solomon laments the fact that after a lifetime of hard work and labor, he will eventually leave his wealth to his son. But who knows whether his son will be wise or foolish?
e. Foolish rich people can be an embarrassment. Sometimes rich American fools give our country a bad name overseas.
10. But perhaps the most unseemly honor bestowed on fools is found in Hollywood and in the entertainment industry.
a. They gain fame and fortune by acting or by playing ball.
b. Suddenly they think that they are experts in politics and ethics and begin lecturing to the country on subjects about which they know nothing—and often say some of the most foolish things!
c. America honors its entertainers more than we honor our president, senators, or business leaders who provide jobs for the country.
d. We honor the cheap and sleazy rap artists who rant about the most vile subjects more than we do the much more skilled classical musicians who play in half empty halls.
e. We honor Hollywood celebrities who do their best on TV to destroy the American family more than we honor those who are laboring to support the family.
f. We honor a Lady Gaga by paying her millions to demonstrate her bizarreness—and yet our school teachers are underpaid.
g. We honor a man who throws a baseball by paying him 100 times more than our president makes.
h. The comedian who goes on weekly tirades against the USA is honored with a TV show and millions of dollars, while the families of our soldiers fighting for our country and risking their lives, can barely keep up with the rent.
i. There is something unseemly about all of this. It just shouldn’t be this way.
j. It is inappropriate—like snow in summertime or rain in harvest.
k. We seem to have a great knack at giving honor, accolades, notoriety, and recognition to the most undeserving people… many of whom are quite foolish. And at the same time, those who deserve honor and respect are ignored.
l. That’s not the way it should be. That is Solomon’s point in this proverb. It is unseemly.
11. In Ecclesiastes 10:6, Solomon put it this way: “Folly is set in great dignity.”
a. Solomon laments this fact: fools often obtain positions of honor and great dignity.
b. It shouldn’t be that way—but it often is.
c. Things in this world are often crooked, backwards, and upside down.
d. It is as damaging as rain in harvest time—but it happens.
12. Putting a fool in a position of honor can have tragic consequences.
a. It will confirm him in his folly. He will assume that folly pays!
b. It will encourage folly in others. It will give others the wrong impression. They too will be led to believe that folly pays.
c. And it also gives the fool the platform from which to produce even more folly… and cause more trouble.
13. The lesson is simple:
a. Don’t honor a fool.
b. Don’t put a fool in an honorable position.
c. It is inappropriate—and there could be some disastrous consequences.