Let’s read Ecclesiastes 10:5-7 from the New King James Version. “There is an evil I have seen under the sun, as an error proceeding from the ruler: Folly is set in great dignity, while the rich sit in a lowly place. I have seen servants on horses, while princes walk on the ground like servants.” Throughout this book Solomon is an OBSERVER. He states this from the outset in 1:12-13, “I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I SET MY HEART TO SEEK AND SEARCH OUT by wisdom concerning ALL THAT IS DONE UNDER HEAVEN; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised.” In short, Solomon was observing “all that is done under heaven” to determine the “purpose of life” and that which would bring “true satisfaction” to one’s heart. And what did Solomon find in all that he observed? We have the answer in the next verse (vs. 14), “I have seen all the works that are done UNDER THE SUN; and indeed, ALL IS VANITY and grasping for the wind.” He explored every area of life “under the sun” (philosophy, psychology, religion, arts & sciences, the amassing of wealth, materialism, etc.) and he found it was ALL EMPTY; he was not able to grasp anything that could fill the void in his heart and give life meaning and purpose.

Our passage today illustrates this truth in the area of “social status.” He observed that even among those in “high places,” where rulers are in a position to lead and guide mankind into a better life, there is vanity. He saw “an error proceeding from the ruler” in that they often choose “foolish men” to join them in positions of leadership. Perhaps they are relatives and friends that are not truly qualified to hold such a high place of power, yet their relationship to them blinds their eyes to this and this leads to “folly being set in great dignity.” In contrast, those who are qualified because they are “rich in wisdom” (see Proverbs 14:24) occupy “a lowly place.” Their “wealth of knowledge and wisdom” could indeed benefit mankind but they are ignored while the ruler’s “foolish friends” are elevated to dignified positions of power that bring mankind “down to poverty and moral decline.”

In verse 7 this promotion of the unqualified and rejection of the qualified was graphically observed by Solomon as he saw “servants riding on horses” (a position of honor and power) while “princes had to walk on foot” (a position of slavery). In other words, positions were being reversed to the detriment of mankind. This reminds me of Proverbs 19:10, “Luxury is not fitting for a fool, much less for a servant to ruler over princes.” The epitome of this passage is seen in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, for He, the Prince of Life and King of kings was “despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3). This rejection was evident from the very beginning when He was born, for we read in Luke 2:7 that “there was no room for them in the inn” and his mother Mary had to lay her child down in a manger where animals were fed. As Jesus entered into His public ministry and presented Himself to the nation of Israel as their long-awaited Messiah, we read that “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). Not only did they refuse to accept Him as their King, they also refused to give Him shelter from the elements. And thus, Jesus was made to say, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Ultimately, this rejection of the true King of kings, and Lord of lords led men to cry out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” (John 19:15). This was all done because of man’s wicked heart. They would promote fools to positions of dignity and power and reject the most dignified, wise, powerful, and loving Man that ever walked the face of this earth.  (DO)  (561.5)