"Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor" (Eccl.10:1).
Several years ago in one of our many moves as a family, I pulled the sofa away from the wall where it had set for a number of months. Just behind the sofa was a large window facing out to the street. This accounts for what I found on the floor -- dozens of dead flies.
They had become trapped between the curtain and the window, trying vainly to fly out through the glass. Dying, they had fallen down between the wall and the curtain, behind our sofa. There were more flies on the floor than raisins in a two scoop box of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran. "Eew, gross!" I believe was the collective response of our four kids, followed by, "that's sooo disgusting!" Indeed. I couldn't have said it better myself. That’s probably what you’re thinking even right now!
Dead flies. As I stared at the pile, my mind recalled a peculiar passage of Scripture. Solomon, the wisest man in the world, knew about dead flies. Here’s what he wrote, "Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor" (Eccl.10:1).
If Solomon were here today, he might say it like this -- Just a few dead flies in perfume makes the whole bottle stink. In the same way, just a little stupidity -- some small, short-lived folly -- can contradict the greatest wisdom, and reduce honor to shame.
At the risk of stretching things just a bit, I need to tell you that one of Satan’s names in Scripture is Beelzebub, which means “Lord of the Flies.” Could it be that dead flies may represent areas in our hearts and lives where the devil has had clandestine access?
Dead flies give perfume a bad smell, and foolishness gives anybody a bad name. But it is not pound for pound -- no, the measure is never so fair as that. It is an ounce of foolishness that outweighs a ton of wisdom. A minute of folly can undo a life of dignity.
King Saul's final cry, "I have played the fool!" -- pitiful in its tardiness -- illustrates the dread power of this buzzing little creature called Folly. An anointed man or woman of longstanding influence may at length gain a bad reputation through one isolated act of indiscretion and stupidity.
Check behind you couch, there might be something there you should clean out.