Let’s do a little exercise – don’t be scared, it’s nothing harmful in any way. I want you to touch your heart. Yes, use your hand to touch the exact location of your heart.
Did you feel your heartbeat? Most likely you didn’t quite feel it except you’re a bit anxious or in panic. But yes, of course, your heart was beating. You’re alive after all, so, it’s beating.
Ok. But did you observe something? When I asked you to touch your heart, you used your right hand instead of your left.
Now, I want you to place your hand on the right side of your chest. Have you done that? Did you feel any beat? Don’t be afraid, I’m not doing any telemedicine check up on you; just an experiment. Ok, if you’re like me, you probably touched the right side of your chest with your right hand still.
The location of the human heart
Anatomically, the heart is on the left side of our chest region, on our left-hand side basically. Except when a person has situs inversus totalis, a rare condition (0.01% of the population) where patients have a mirror-image reversal of their internal chest and abdominal organs. For example, the heart is on the right side of the chest, the liver in the left upper abdominal quadrant, and the stomach/spleen in the right upper quadrant.
When we want to salute a superior, to indicate loyalty or when we are asked to touch our hearts, we use our right hand to do so. The same thing applies to when you want to wave goodbye to a friend or family – you usually do that with the right hand.
So, why did a wise man like Solomon, arguably the wisest earthly king of his time and I would even say of all times, say that a wise man’s heart is on the right hand? With all his learning and the advancement of his kingdom, wouldn’t he have known or at least guessed that the heart is located behind the breastbone slightly to the left? Or was he speaking in proverbs?
Wrong political interpretation
Another thing that some (political or rather party) people said and still say is that Solomon meant that a wise man’s heart leans towards the right-wing, while that of a fool leans towards the left. Well, we know that that interpretation of the scriptures is completely false for many reasons. One is that in the days of Solomon, there was nothing like right or left-wing, Republican nor Democrat. I mean, we are talking about hundreds of years before Christ. And the political right or left came into place many hundreds of years after Christ. So, the argument that the above verse refers to something political doesn’t even stand any chance.
The meaning of Ecclesiastes 10:2
You need to understand that Solomon used a metaphor here. In the olden days, because the right hand is more predominantly used in doing things, it is regarded as the hand of skill, strength and direction. The right hand has more expertise in doing things than the left. So, having your heart located on the right hand simply means that your heart will lead your hand appropriately. That is, the heart (mind) will guide the hand in the right direction. So, the thoughts, sentiments and actions of a person whose heart is on the right-hand side will go in the right direction.
So, when the Bible says that “a wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left,” he simply means that (as Dake’s would put it) a wise man’s sense of understanding is in its place, ready to aid him when needed; but that of a fool is missing when needed.
You can also regard the right hand to mean good and the left to mean evil. So, when the heart is on the right hand, it leads you to do good. But on the left, it’ll lead you to do evil things.
In fact, among the Igbo people of Nigeria, when someone is doing things in an uncommon, senseless way, the person is usually told that he always does things with the left hand. That means that he does things in ways that don’t make sense to a normal person.
A couple of scriptures to end:
Isaiah 41:13. “For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’
In Psalm 139:9-10, “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.