“Whoever digs a pit
Will fall into it.
Whoever breaks through a wall,
Will be bitten by a snake.
Whoever quarries stones
Will be hurt by them.
Whoever splits logs
Will be endangered by them.
If the iron is blunt,
If one does not whet the edge,
Then more strength must be exerted.
But wisdom helps one to succeed.
If the serpent bites before it is charmed,
There is no advantage in a charmer.”
Here Qoheleth offers more wise advice. If you dig a pit, you probably will fall into it. If you break through a wall, you might find a snake ready to bite you on the other side. If you dig out stones, you might be hurt by them. If you split logs, they could hurt you. If you have a blunt edge and you do not sharpen it, you will have to use more force. Wisdom can help you to succeed. What is the advantage of being a snake charmer if the snake bites you before you can charm it?
“Iron sharpens iron.
One person sharpens the wits of another.
Anyone who tends a fig tree
Will eat its fruit.
Anyone who takes care of a master
Will be honored.
Just as water reflects the face,
So one human heart reflects another.”
It takes iron to sharpen iron. You can help another person to become sharp and witty. If you take care of a fig tree, you can eat its fruit. If you take care of a master, you will be honored. Just as water reflects your face, so the human heart can reflect another person. Human interaction has some very good consequences on others.
“If one does not repent,
God will sharpen his sword.
He has bent and strung his bow.
He has prepared his deadly weapons,
He makes his arrows fiery shafts.
See how they conceive evil!
They are pregnant with mischief.
They bring forth lies.
They make a pit.
They dig it out.
They fall into the hole that they have made.
Their mischief returns upon their own heads.
On their own heads violence descends.”
If the wicked ones do not repent, God will sharpen his sword against them. The bows and arrows will be ready like deadly fiery arrows. Notice that the wicked ones are always conceiving evil. In a colorful phrase, they are pregnant with mischief. The result of their pregnancy is lies. They dig out pits to snare people, but they fall into their own traps. Thus their conceived mischief and violence returns and descends on their own heads. The tables are turned on the violent wicked ones.