The Burden of Folly

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Ecclesiastes 10:1-20, Psalm 7:12-17, Proverbs 26:27

“What should you do when you’re in a hole, son?”

This is the question I often ask when one of my four boys responds to correction by arguing or deflecting blame. They know the routine. The question interrupts their defense mechanisms. Most of the time, their little arms drop to their sides as they sigh and answer: “Stop digging.”

It’s a word picture Scripture gives us, and one I like to imagine David used as he corrected his son, Solomon. It was King David who penned, “He dug a pit and hollowed it out but fell into the hole he had made” (Psalm 7:15). Solomon repeated his father’s wisdom when he wrote, “The one who digs a pit may fall into it, and the one who breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake” (Ecclesiastes 10:8). (Don’t you like how he added that last part?)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t do a lot of pit digging, let alone snake-infested wall-breaking, for that matter. Without context, I might be tempted to race right past these verses thinking they don’t apply. But as we study Scripture’s Wisdom Literature, we see that neither David nor Solomon were warning against a literal pit, the kind that is dug with an actual shovel. No, this is a pit of trouble, and the shovel, in this case, is our words.

It was Solomon who reflected, “The words from the mouth of a wise person are gracious, but the lips of a fool consume him” (Ecclesiastes 10:12), and his father David who prayed, “LORD, set up a guard for my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

If you’ve ever felt buried under the weight of your foolish words, or wished there were a superglue that could seal your mouth shut, I’m sure you can relate. We all can. When our words have dug us into a pit of trouble, God’s Word and His Spirit remind us that wise words can only flow from a wise heart. When our speech reveals our folly we have a choice. Argue, deflect, defend, or stop digging and repent, asking the Lord to give us hearts more like His.

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54 thoughts on "The Burden of Folly"

  1. Holly Krylo says:

    Great reminders.

  2. Madelyn says:

    great reminder! definitely something to apply to our lives as Christians before we act out of anger or just not the way Christ would respond in certain situations.

  3. Kelly Broughton says:

    So good! Thank you.

  4. Laurie Crary says:

    Your comments are spot on!!

  5. Angela Sutherland says:

    I’m behind in my readings after a strange week dealing with a health issue. I’m feeling better and getting caught up and can’t help but marvel at God’s perfect timing with these devotionals. The verse to share from this day is incredibly timely as social media platforms are flooded with so many opinions on things happening in the world. 2020 has definitely been a year that is putting wisdom and folly into focus! Sometimes I will read something and see comments and my immediate response is to start typing out my own frustration, but then 9/10 times hold down the back space button and walk away. I love the advice Pamela’s husband was given “To argue with a fool is to become one”. That’s what a lot of these comment sections become…foolish arguments! (I’m so thankful this forum is such a safe and loving space filled with sisters who just want to love and lift each other up!!) Lord, may your wisdom guide me today and guard my lips against speaking foolishly. Your Holy Spirit will prompt and guide us to speak. That’s when it will be effective. There are issues that we need to take a stand on, but sometimes taking a stand demands action more than just words. May my words be reflected by my actions and may both be rooted in wisdom!

  6. Freyjah Fey says:

    I have learned from HolySpirit,
    That sometimes, the wisest thing to say is nothing at all. (Selah)

  7. Freyjah Fey says:

    I have learned from HolySpirit,
    That sometimes, the wisest thing to say is nothing at all.

  8. Pamela Moretz says:

    A very wise person once told my husband and me, “To argue with a fool is to become one”. We don’t have to argue and defend ourselves, because righteousness overpowers darkness. Willing to deplete guile and adopting Gentleness is one of the fruit of the Spirit most visited and most difficult to deal with. Being gentle withwords and actions keeps vulnerability at bay and the need to appreciation the constant work of the Holy Spirit present. The challenge each day is … to keep daily living in the presence of His glory so His reflection can be seen in me. To God be the glory!

    1. Alli H says:

      This is so encouraging! Thank you for sharing, Pamela.

    2. Anna McBride says:

      So good and wise Pamela!

  9. Dana Clements says:

    Thank you! I needed this today! ❤️

  10. Lindsay C. says:

    The fool doesn’t know when to walk in humility. I am not a non-stop talker, but I am often a speak before I think talker. I’ve felt the spirit nudging me throughout this study to listen more, to stay quiet a bit before barreling into the conversation with my proud opinions. I often find that when God is trying to get my attention, I see the same message in multiple spaces. It is here now in this bible study, and also in the discussion on racial injustice. Help me to take a seat and listen Lord.

    1. Taylore Q says:

      I appreciate your thoughts so much. “Proud opinions” really hit me — how wise I convince myself I am, sometimes! Praying for listening ears and a humble heart.

    2. Amy Rogers says:

      I’m right there with you, Lindsay! Quick to hear, slow to speak…

  11. Melissa Mcronney says:

    Thank You Jesus

  12. Sharon W says:

    Well said Churchmouse! I agree with every thing you wrote. Yes…Jesus and me is Awesome.

  13. Kathleen Smith says:

    The reading and responses today have convicted me. I was ready to use my words to defend my pride, and although I still feel the need to converse with the person who called me out, I know now I need to do it differently than I had planned. Please pray that my words will be full of God’s grace and truth today, sisters. And that the Holy Spirit will subdue my pride and give me a gentle and humble spirit while I do so.

    1. Kinda Johnson says:

      Amen:..and I pray that prayer for me as well. As I pray for the same gentle humble spirit in myself to overcome the pride that continuously holds me back from being humble, I will be praying for you as well Kathleen.

  14. Lehua K. says:

    I wish I could reply to people directly on here… I’m on the mobile version of the website, not the app, so I don’t know if that’s an exclusive thing for the app version.

    That being said, I have been adding your names and requests to a prayer list so I can keep track and be more diligent as I pray. So please know that even if I don’t say it directly on here or reply, I read through your comments and pray as I read them, and then later on when I look at my list. :)

    Churchmouse, it broke my heart yesterday to hear what you’re experiencing.. I am glad to hear your thoughts today and perspective moving forward. Like many of the ladies here, reading your insights each day is a delight for me and gives me more to reflect on. Thank you and the many other ladies who comment and provide insight daily, along with supporting one another.

    Today’s reading is enlightening for me… How often have I spoken and immediately regretted it? Or how often have I done something without thinking beforehand of the consequences, and regretted it? I’ve heard it said that what’s in the well comes out in the bucket. What’s done in the dark will be revealed in the light. When no one is watching, how do we act? No one can hear our thoughts but God, so how are our thoughts? When our heart is in the right place and we think on the right things, we are preparing ourselves for right actions. At least that’s what I believe. Integrity and character are so important…

    Blessings sisters. Have a beautiful day.

  15. ToadLily says:

    Sweet Churchmouse, how I love to read your thoughts put down on “paper”. Our church is set to reopen 06-14 and I have struggled with the decision to return or not. I have respitory issues that places me in that high-risk category. I oversee the hospitality piece of our church and the thought of not returning to my “post” is overwhelming. I have ask God to tell me what to do, and begged Him to speak loudly. It has been silent… I have begun to realize it is more my pride that is injured in this decision making process; I see I am more the Martha in my serving. When praying I now hear Him gently say, “more than your presence in church, it’s is your presence with Me that I desire.” I thank you for your beautiful words and that reminder of where church is.

  16. DOROTHY says:

    Erin’s last three sentences hit home to me. “When our words have dug us into a pit of trouble, God’s Word and His Spirit remind us that wise words can only flow from a wise heart. When our speech reveals our folly we have a choice. Argue, deflect, defend, or stop digging and repent, asking the Lord to give us hearts more like His.” My words have dug me into some pits and even some ditches and extra large holes. Too many times, I have not thought before speaking and regretted it later. I am getting better but I still occasionally do it. Lord, help us to think and even pray before we speak, to make sure what we are going to say is meaningful and not hurtful or nonsense or something we will regret later. Seal our lips from saying things they shouldn’t and allow them to talk about You and Your Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen

    1. Whitney Brown says:


  17. Vicki Judd says:

    The reference on the preceding picture is Proverbs, not Ecclesiastes. Oops!

  18. Kelly says:

    This morning I pray that those of us who are white can confront the ways that we too allow a racist system to proceed, rather than feel defensive about it like Erin’s sons. Only by being open to correction can we see change.

    1. Jennifer Martin says:


    2. Deedee Horton says:


  19. Angie says:

    I love that saying, “What should you do when you are in a hole? Stop digging.” I don’t think I have heard it before.
    I had heard the story of a man who was furious with his mule so he pushed him into a large hole and started shoveling in dirt on top of him. Except, every time the man shoveled in dirt, the mule shook it off his back and stomped it under his feet. Pretty soon the dirt under his feet was enough that the mule stepped right out of the hole.
    In the first situation, you are only making things worse, so you need to stop.
    In the second situation, the mule took what was being thrown at him and used it for good.
    Maybe that is why I like Ecclesiastes so much. It seems like Solomon is saying…stuff is going to happen. When it does, what will you do? What is the wise thing? Eat, drink, and enjoy your work. If what you are doing isn’t good, stop. Folly is a burden. If you are in a difficult situation, make the best of where you are and what you have. Paul, in the New Testament, took it a step further when he said he had learned to be content with what he had, whether much or little.

    1. Sarah Rose says:

      Love this! The last few sentences of what you wrote really stood out to me as I have had a hard time concerning my workplace lately. Asking God why? Why he allowed a certain change that I thought would be for my betterment. Because I do not see the positives at the moment. But, maybe I will never know this side of heaven. Maybe it’s an opportunity to improve my attitude and trust God….I will try to make the best of it. Thanks for sharing these encouraging thoughts Angie!

    2. Arlene Perez says:

      This is so good. Love your analogy and how nicely your put this into words. Thank you

  20. Elisha Anne says:

    May we always have gracious words, seasoned with salt. Salt: gives people a thirst for more of the Lord. He will help us and His love can overflow through us, even when it seems impossible. His power is made perfect in weak people ♥️

    1. Amanda Robinson says:

      Love this! On my heart this morning: May the Lord give me the wisdom to know when to “guard my mouth and keep watch at the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). May he also reveal when I can use my words to “add salt.” ❤️ Have a blessed day, sisters!

  21. NanaK says:

    Churchmouse: I also wish I was there to enjoy your wisdom during your back porch Bible Study. Thank you for sharing with us through SRT.
    Erin: Thank you for this devotion! It certainly hit home with me.
    Kristen: Your thoughts are my sentiments also. Though I don’t think of myself as “ prideful,” I have been convicted once again, that is a part of my sinful nature that escapes much too quickly through the folly of my words.
    LORD, please forgive me when I allow Satan use my pride as a way to deflect Your Words and Your Spirit from flowing from my heart. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my mind be pleasing to you, Lord. Amen

    1. Rei Lyons says:

      I felt every bit of these words. The conviction is STRONG! Whew, Lord, work in this heart of mine!

  22. Taylor says:

    Deanna, my heart echoes your prayer. I feel called to speak out against the racial injustices and violence that our black community is suffering. However, I do not wish to start fights – I wish to unify myself with those who are suffering and amplify their voice. Lord, let the words be Yours, not my own. Amen

  23. Mom to many says:

    Churchmouse I would love to be one of the women on your back deck! Our churches will likely not be able to gather at all this summer in person as we are still under the maximum bubble size of 5. Yesterday I succumbed to a full on bawling COvid meltdown…just grieving so much going on…but Jesus gave me a beautiful sleep with rain pouring outside and today is a new day.

    I so desire to have wise words flow from a wise heart. Lord please make me more like you.

  24. Deanna says:

    Lord, in these trying times, please let my words be wise. Please let me use them to unify rather than divide.

  25. Lizzie T says:

    This means a lot to me, as I’ve struggled to find my real church home. I’ve prayed for “like minded” believer friends and visited many congregations before the pandemic. Time alone with my God is all I need, I trust he will lead me to the right place. And for now, I’ll spend that quiet time, with my bible, listening, learning.

    1. Tiffany Harkey says:

      Praying for you, Lizzie! Finding your church home can be scary and frustrating.

  26. Jane K says:

    The women who will gather on your deck are blessed to have you! I always search out your wisdom.

    1. Jane K says:


  27. Nancy Singleton says:

    We are all experiencing a time of challenge & change, especially in how we can be the church regardless of physical location. A perfect discussion in harmony with Ecclesiastes!

  28. Sue Dalos says:

    Thank you Churchmouse, for your ministry here. Your words touch my heart and open my eyes. It is all holy ground. Let me be still in those moments with Jesus and listen. Holy ground holy words holy heart.

  29. Joyce Smith says:

    Well said, thank you❤️

  30. Blessed Beth says:

    Oh Kristen thank you for sharing. We so seldom stop and think of the impact of words and the need for them. God has been encouraging me to share my words and a long time, so for the past 64 days I have been sharing scriptures and events in my life that relate to them. What a joy it has been to make people smile, laugh and think during these days. I love receiving their responses, they make me feel so close to them and to the Lord! I need this right now.
    And Churchmouse you have so much to offer and I know God has mighty plans for you.

  31. Churchmouse says:

    Dear friends, thank you for your many responses to my comment yesterday. You touched my heart! I do feel like I hijacked the postings away from Ecclesiastes and for that I do apologize.

    When I was a young mom, with two little girls, I was desperate for Jesus. I was in over my head and so desired to raise them right in the Lord. The early parenting years were ones of snatches of moments here and there for study and prayer. Thank God for teachings over the radio that I turned on in the background(yes I’m that old). Oh dear friends, they were the best years because it was just me and Jesus. Yes I would “go to church” but the intimacy with Jesus was cultivated and nurtured in the private moments I had with Him in the ordinary days of my very busy life. My Bible, once so pristine, became underlined, highlighted and filled with handwritten notes in the margin. And coffee stains and children’s fingerprints from who knows what. The binding tore and I was torn apart by the love of Jesus, by His Words, by His presence. It was glorious. I had a dependency on Jesus that was deeply rooted. I found ways to worship and pray and study throughout the day because it was my lifeline. I (we, as a family) “went to church” but the holy ground was really in our home. Over the years, I transferred that personal effort and focus to the formal church, partaking in the ministries offered and leading several. Friends, over the years I drew on others’ knowledge and on my own ability more than on Jesus. I see that so clearly now. My dependency shifted every so subtlely from dependence on Jesus to dependence on the church. There is a significant difference. Through a series of events at our previous and now current church, a shift occurred within me. This pandemic and physical absence from the church has highlighted this shift. I knew Jesus was calling me back to that full dependence on Him. I can be stubborn and so argued with Him. He is a persistent God however and with this latest decision of our leadership, He has made it clear that He desires, as do I, that earlier intimacy of just Jesus and me. During my quiet time over several days, even before the masked /unmasked issue, He was asking me to turn to what “church” used to be, to the holy ground that was wherever my feet were, not in a church building. I had restricted it. He hadn’t. The church hadn’t really. But I had. The church and I had become too comfortable , too familiar, too easy. Yes I grieve the familiar format of a church service but I am excited about the format Jesus and I will create now. This isolation, though not initially welcomed, I now see as creative opportunity. Perhaps I did not articulate that well in yesterday’s post. My emotion as I started writing yesterday morning was sadness but my emotion at the end really was joy. Jesus and I are back to doing “church”! I’m not leaving the church, I’m not neglecting the gathering with believers (I’m still here lol and besides such an action would not be Biblical), it’s just going to be different. It’s going to be better. At my age, different is not always embraced but God desires, in this season, that I rethink and redo “church.” I have held a Bible study in my home for seven years and several of the women have commented that our small group is more church to them than their larger gathering on Sunday. While the Bible study has been on hold for the past two months, it is time to gather again (on my deck outside, and yes with face coverings). I led a prayer ministry at our church and while I can’t physically be there, the ministry need not stop. When it’s just Jesus and me, I hear His voice more clearly. He gives me His ideas. I don’t need the church building or the church programs or even the organized worship, though I do so love them all. I need Him. I’m not shut in. I’m called out. It may be for a short season. It may be for considerably longer. I do not know. I will be happy to return to the building but I do not “need” to. I do not fear this virus at all. Jesus numbers my days. But I will love my family and love my neighbor by following the recommended precautions of my physicians. I will love the church and be a part differently. How can a believer ever truly leave? We are the church and where we go, there we are. The numbers matter not. The format matters not. The location matters not. It’s Jesus who matters. Just Jesus and me. And the others He brings my way or takes me to them, whatever way He does it. It’s all holy ground. He makes it holy. He alone. Just Jesus.

    1. Dee Wilcox says:

      I love this, Churchmouse. It reminds me of my mother’s sentiments around church. I was never taught that church was required for having a relationship with Jesus, just helpful. I think my mother swung a little further on that spectrum, and I wish she had had more community with believers to support her as a single mom. However, the lesson was a valuable one for me and very formative. Church is “wherever believers gather together, He is in their midst”.

    2. Tiffany Harkey says:

      Thank you for your ministry! I see myself in you as a young mother (except the sermons are podcasts). I have two young children and long for them to know Jesus. God has used this pandemic to make me slow down and pay more attention to him. Somehow, he brought me back here and I’m spending more time with him daily than I have in years. And so, I find myself laughing and enjoying life more and feeling less overwhelmed and anxious. It’s amazing the changes that only Jesus can cause.

    3. Leslie Warnick says:

      Oh Churchmouse you are so wise. Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart. ❤️

    4. Mari V says:

      I love this too Churchmouse! I thank God for you. 

    5. Linda G says:


    6. Laurie Crary says:

      Wise, understanding words. Thank you.

  32. Kristen says:

    This is something to reflect on: When our words have dug us into a pit of trouble, God’s Word and His Spirit remind us that wise words can only flow from a wise heart. When our speech reveals our folly we have a choice. Argue, deflect, defend, or stop digging and repent, asking the Lord to give us hearts more like His.
    God please forgive me for defending or deflecting my actions or words that weren’t pleasing to You. I heard a pastor say that all sin goes back to pride. I was thinking of how true that is in situations where I want to blame someone else for my sin or defend my words or actions to save myself from being the bad one or looking bad. It’s pride. Please humble me and change me. Take pride and change it to humility and give me a heart, mind, soul, and spirit that praise and exalts and submits to You. I’m reminded of that prayer learned in the Cleansing Stream seminar/cclass:Body submit to my soul, soul submit to my spirit, and spirit submit to the Holy Spirit of God! My I humbly follow You always. Amen

    1. Jennifer Martin says:


    2. Jen Brewer says:

      Amen Kristen!