Ecclesiastes 5

1 Watch thy feet when thou goest to the house of God and draw near with more willingness to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know how to do what God wants.
2 Do not be rash with thy mouth and do not let thy heart be hasty to utter any thing before God, for God is in heaven and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few.
3 For out of much preoccupation comes the dream, and the voice of the fool out of a multitude of words.
4 When thou dost vow a vow unto God, do not defer to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools; pay that which thou hast vowed.
5 It is better that thou should not vow than that thou should vow and not pay.
6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was ignorance. Why should thou cause God to be angry because of thy voice and destroy the work of thine hands?
7 Because dreams abound, and vanities and the words are many, but fear thou God.
8 If thou seest violence unto the poor and the extortion of rights and justice in a province, do not marvel at the matter, for height is looking upon height; and there is one higher than they.
9 And there is higher authority in all of the things of the earth, but he who serves the field is king.
10 He that loves money shall not be satisfied with money; nor he that loves abundance with increase; this is also vanity.
11 When goods increase, those that eat them are increased; and what good is there to the owners thereof, except the beholding of them with their eyes?
12 The sleep of the servant is sweet whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.
13 There is another sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt;
14 which are lost by evil pursuits and to the sons which he has begotten; there is nothing left in his hand.
15 As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.
16 And this also is a sore evil; that in all points as he came, so shall he go; and what profit has he that has laboured for the wind?
17 In addition to this, all the days of his life he shall eat in darkness, with much wrath and pain and sorrow sickness.
18 Behold therefore the good which I have seen: that good is to eat and to drink and to enjoy of the good of all his labour that he takes under the sun all the days of his life, which God gives him; for it is his portion.
19 Likewise, unto every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, he has also given him power to eat thereof and to take his portion and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.
20 To such a one, God will remove the concerns common to others, for God shall answer him with joy from his heart.

Images for Ecclesiastes 5

Ecclesiastes 5 Commentary

Chapter 5

What renders devotion vain. (1-3) Of vows, and oppression. (4-8) the vanity of riches shown. (9-7) The right use of riches. (18-20)

Verses 1-3 Address thyself to the worship of God, and take time to compose thyself for it. Keep thy thoughts from roving and wandering: keep thy affections from running out toward wrong objects. We should avoid vain repetitions; copious prayers are not here condemned, but those that are unmeaning. How often our wandering thoughts render attendance on Divine ordinances little better than the sacrifice of fools! Many words and hasty ones, used in prayer, show folly in the heart, low thoughts of God, and careless thoughts of our own souls.

Verses 4-8 When a person made engagements rashly, he suffered his mouth to cause his flesh to sin. The case supposes a man coming to the priest, and pretending that his vow was made rashly, and that it would be wrong to fulfil it. Such mockery of God would bring the Divine displeasure, which might blast what was thus unduly kept. We are to keep down the fear of man. Set God before thee; then, if thou seest the oppression of the poor, thou wilt not find fault with Divine Providence; nor think the worse of the institution of magistracy, when thou seest the ends of it thus perverted; nor of religion, when thou seest it will not secure men from suffering wrong. But though oppressors may be secure, God will reckon for all.

Verses 9-17 The goodness of Providence is more equally distributed than appears to a careless observer. The king needs the common things of life, and the poor share them; they relish their morsel better than he does his luxuries. There are bodily desires which silver itself will not satisfy, much less will worldly abundance satisfy spiritual desires. The more men have, the better house they must keep, the more servants they must employ, the more guests they must entertain, and the more they will have hanging on them. The sleep of the labourer is sweet, not only because he is tired, but because he has little care to break his sleep. The sleep of the diligent Christian, and his long sleep, are sweet; having spent himself and his time in the service of God, he can cheerfully repose in God as his Rest. But those who have every thing else, often fail to secure a good night's sleep; their abundance breaks their rest. Riches do hurt, and draw away the heart from God and duty. Men do hurt with their riches, not only gratifying their own lusts, but oppressing others, and dealing hardly with them. They will see that they have laboured for the wind, when, at death, they find the profit of their labour is all gone like the wind, they know not whither. How ill the covetous worldling bears the calamities of human life! He does not sorrow to repentance, but is angry at the providence of God, angry at all about him; which doubles his affliction.

Verses 18-20 Life is God's gift. We must not view our calling as a drudgery, but take pleasure in the calling where God puts us. A cheerful spirit is a great blessing; it makes employments easy, and afflictions light. Having made a proper use of riches, a man will remember the days of his past life with pleasure. The manner in which Solomon refers to God as the Giver, both of life and its enjoyments, shows they ought to be received and to be used, consistently with his will, and to his glory. Let this passage recommend to all the kind words of the merciful Redeemer, "Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life." Christ is the Bread of life, the only food of the soul. All are invited to partake of this heavenly provision.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO ECCLESIASTES 5

This chapter contains some rules and directions concerning the worship of God; how persons should behave when they go into the house of God; concerning hearing the word, to which there should be a readiness, and which should be preferred to the sacrifices of fools, Ec 5:1. Concerning prayer to God; which should not be uttered rashly and hastily, and should be expressed in few words; which is urged from the consideration of the majesty of God, and vileness of men; and the folly of much speaking is exposed by the simile of a dream, Ec 5:2,3. Concerning vows, which should not be rashly made; when made, should be kept; nor should excuses be afterwards framed for not performing them, since this might bring the anger of God upon men, to the destruction of the works of their hands, Ec 5:4-6; and, as an antidote against those vanities, which appear in the prayers and vows of some, and dreams of others, the fear of God is proposed, Ec 5:7; and, against any surprise at the oppression of the poor, the majesty, power, and providence of God, and his special regard to his people, are observed, Ec 5:8. And then the wise man enters into a discourse concerning riches; and observes, that the fruits of the earth, and the culture of it, are necessary to all men, and even to the king, Ec 5:9; but dissuades from covetousness, or an over love of riches; because they are unsatisfying, are attended with much trouble, often injurious to the owners of them; at length perish, and their possessors; who, at death, are stripped quite naked of all, after they have spent their days in darkness and distress, Ec 5:10-17; and concludes, therefore, that it is best for a man to enjoy, in a free manner, the good things of this life he is possessed of, and consider them as the gifts of God, and be thankful for them; by which means he will pass through the world more comfortably, and escape the troubles that attend others, Ec 5:18-20.

Ecclesiastes 5 Commentaries

The Jubilee Bible

(from the Scriptures of the Reformation)

edited by Russell M. Stendal

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