Heart and Hand
Ecclesiastes 10:2
A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left.…

In the physical system the heart and the head are alike related to the hand. We associate the heart with feeling, the head with thought, and the hand with movement or action. Life is made up of feeling, thought and action. The motive power may be said to lie in the heart; the guiding principle in the head; and the efficient working element in the hand. But in the Scriptures the heart is almost always used to denote the whole inner being, as including the mental and moral nature, the intellect and the affections. Wisdom is the right direction of all our faculties and powers towards a given end, and it demands their harmonious co-operation. We want first of all to have concentration of power, and after that the direction of it along the right lines. In the harmony of head and heart we have wisdom in thought and action. In their contrariety we have folly. The heart or soul ought to control the hand. It is the business of a wise man to know what he can do and what he cannot do. A man need be in no doubt as to the end of his existence. If it is one's deepest desire really to serve the Lord, He will lead one in the right way, and show one in specific form what he ought at all times to do. A wise man's heart is at his right hand in this sense, that he always acts from within himself, or from the ground of his own personal feeling. This sentence of Solomon means that the wise man is a practical man — a man of action as well as of thought. The foolish man whose heart is at his left hand has separated thought from action. If he has a theory of life at all, his actual life is out of harmony with it. It is so with the religion of many: they have separated between their theory of the life to come and their practice in the present life. The man whose heart is at his right hand is always ready for action, and specially prepared to seize the opportunity when it comes. There is a general preparedness for action which always characterizes him, and makes him equal to the occasion, his mind being constantly made up to a very large extent. The true soldier is always ready for action. One's facts and principles must always be at hand, ready for the occasion. To have one's heart at his right hand is to do one's work with his whole heart. He puts his mind and conscience into it, and really enjoys it. His motto is that what is worth doing at all ought to be done well. There is nothing so miserable as to have a work to do for which one has no heart. But to have as one's daily work that in which he finds his highest happiness and culture is surely a most enviable condition. In opposition to all this, the man whose heart is at his left hand is living an essentially idle life. There is no unity of purpose in his existence. The deep spiritual forces of his being, separated from all that is practical and profitable, are wasted. Let us seek by all means the concentration of our powers, and the direction of them to the one true end of life. Our heart is in the right place when our supreme affection is that love to God in Christ which goes continually forth in earnest and prayerful endeavour for the good of others. When Sir Walter Raleigh had laid his head upon the block, he was asked by the executioner whether it lay aright; whereupon, with the marvellous calmness of a man whose heart was fixed, he replied, "It matters little, my friend, how the head lies, provided the heart be right."

(Fergus Ferguson, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left.

WEB: A wise man's heart is at his right hand, but a fool's heart at his left.

The Dead Fly in the Ointment
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