Tonight we begin by looking at chapter 5 of Ecclesiastes. Solomon talks less about himself in this chapter and gives instructions to others.
Ecclesiastes 5:1 Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. 2 Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few. 3 For a dream comes through much activity, And a fool's voice is known by his many words.
Of course the house of God is referring to the temple that Solomon built. He is saying that when you get ready to go to house of God to worship, you need to have your mind set on what are about to do. Your focus must be on God and paying respect to Him.
Anyone could go into the temple area with a sacrifice and go through the motions of what God commanded, but if that person simple does the act without it being on his heart than he is fool. Other passages bare this thought out as well:
Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
Proverbs 21:27 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; How much more when he brings it with wicked intent!
Though Solomon was speaking of the temple, this same idea is true with us today as we come together to worship God. We should have our minds focused on Him and not be people that are just going through the motions. He deserves our respect. As Jesus said:
John 4:24 "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
Solomon also teaches us not to allow our tongues to flap in the wind. We should put great thought into what we say. Though God is in heaven, He knows every word that we say. Words can be very powerful; they can build up and they can destroy. Instead of just babbling on like a fool, we should use our words wisely. Again, Solomon says:
Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise. 20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; The heart of the wicked is worth little. 21 The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of wisdom.
The less we say, the better off we are. Those who tend to talk to hear their head rattle usually end up saying things they had not intended, which can stir up a hornets’ nest. We must never forget what Jesus said in:
Matthew 12:36 "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
Next, Solomon says:
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed -- 5 Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. 6 Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.
Moses never commanded that a vow had to made, it was always voluntary. When someone made a vow to God, God expects them to keep it and not delay in doing it. Someone that makes a promise to God and then does not follow through is considered a fool and God will not be pleased with you.
We need to be careful when we bargain with God through prayer. Some will really want something to happen in their life or for one of their loved ones, so they will say something like, “God if you will make this happen, I will do such and such for the rest of my life.” Many times when people make that vow to God, they do not keep it, and God is not going to be pleased with you when you break your promise to Him.
Think carefully before you promise something to God. Make sure you actual keep your promise. Don’t make yourself become a liar by your rash words. According to verse 6, when you try to make excuses for what you vowed and say you simply made an error, you put yourself in opposition to God.
This is why he says it better to not vow in the first place instead of making a vow and not keeping it. In a way, I think every Christian has made vow to God when they become a Christian because are not making a promise to God that we are going to live our life for Him. If we fail to live for Him by living for ourselves, we sin and God is not going to be happy with us. In similar way, as Solomon said it is better not to vow, than to vow and break that vow. It is better to not be a Christian than to become one and then break your commitment to God by falling away. Peter says it this way:
2 Peter 2:20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."
7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.
While dreams can be interesting and confusing, they offer no substance to you and they are just as worthless and many words that should not be spoken. The best thing we can do is fear God, which means respecting Him and His authority by following His commands for living our daily lives and for how we should worship Him in the house of God. As Jesus said:
Matthew 7:21 " Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
Ecclesiastes 5:8 If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them. 9 Moreover the profit of the land is for all; even the king is served from the field.
Solomon is speaking about the corruption in higher offices such as government over the people. He is saying that we should not be surprised when these officials look out for one another and allow injustice and unrighteousness to prevail. It is certainly not uncommon for those who are in position of power to think they are above the law and who become wicked because their power goes to their head.
Regardless of the corruption within in a government, one thing holds true is that even the king is provided for by the land. The land will yield is uses for all, whether you are a peasant or a king.
In verses 10-17, Solomon is going to give 7 reasons why money and wealth are vain.
1. Ecclesiastes 5:10 He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity.
Solomon is speaking from experience as being one of the wealthiest men that has ever lived. You can never be satisfied with enough money or things. You will always want more and more. Since, money and things can never fully satisfy you, they are considered to be vanity.
2. Ecclesiastes 5:11 When goods increase, They increase who eat them; So what profit have the owners Except to see them with their eyes?
When people find out that you have money, they assume that you have plenty to share. So, they will follow you and hang around you waiting for you to provide for them. This is why many times those who win the lottery end up having to disconnect their phones and move to a guarded place. They feel like they have to isolate themselves from others because so many people will try to get them to give them some of their money.
Of course those who are successful in life and big companies experience the same problems with people constantly asking them for handouts. While is great to be able to help others, you can imagine how tiring it would become wading through the hoards of people that never stop.
3. Ecclesiastes 5:12 The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, Whether he eats little or much; But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.
The person that goes out and works hard and makes a basic living can go home and go to sleep without worrying about his riches. Many times those who are rich cannot help but have trouble sleeping at night because their abundance becomes a burden to them. They constantly have on their mind how they can protect their riches and how they are going to use them.
4. Ecclesiastes 5:13 There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun: Riches kept for their owner to his hurt.
This reference is a bit vague, but it is saying that riches can bring much misery to it owner. It does not matter how the money was obtained either legally or illegally, when one focus his desire on his riches, it become his master. Ad Jesus has said,
Matthew 6:24 " No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
5. Ecclesiastes 5:14 But those riches perish through misfortune; When he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand.
Just as on can gain great riches, they can quickly be lost. Whether it be through a bad business deal or lost through compulsive gambling, when it is gone it is gone. If that person has child to care for, once the money is lost, he will not have the funds to even take care of his child.
People should never take their riches for granted because there are many things that can happen that can cause all your riches to be gone in a single day, but when we make heaven our treasure, we can know that no one can steal it or take it away from us. So, let us make sure that we put our trust in God and not in our earthly riches as Jesus said:
Matthew 6:19 " Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
6. Ecclesiastes 5:15 As he came from his mother's womb, naked shall he return, To go as he came; And he shall take nothing from his labor Which he may carry away in his hand. 16 And this also is a severe evil -- Just exactly as he came, so shall he go. And what profit has he who has labored for the wind?
Just as Jesus said, the treasures of this earth are not everlasting. Just as we came into the world naked and with no physical treasure, we are going to leave this earth in the same way because we cannot take our riches with us. This is very similar to what Paul said:
1 Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
Yes, we can enjoy what riches we have been blessed with, but they must never ever be our priority. Instead, we should learn to content with what we have because we know that we have much a greater treasure waiting for us in heaven.
7. Ecclesiastes 5:17 All his days he also eats in darkness, And he has much sorrow and sickness and anger.
Those who were rich and then lost it all causes them to feel like they are in the depths of despair. Some who have lost their riches were so devastated by it that they committed suicide because they did not think would be worth living without their riches. Many go in to great depression, which can cause them to become ill. Others, become angry at themselves and the world because they lost it all. These are the kind of things that can happen when you put your trust in the riches of this world. Again Paul said:
1 Timothy 6:9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
In the last few verses of our chapter, Solomon tells us what the right attitude is toward our health and our labor while we are here on this earth.
Ecclesiastes 5:18 Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. 19 As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor -- this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.
Once again, we see Solomon bringing God back into the picture. His conclusion is that we should enjoy our labor here on this earth because God has given it to us to enjoy. All good things come from God, and He created this earth for us to live in and find joy end during our short stay here.
Whether we are poor, rich or somewhere in between, we should take what God has given us and be good stewards of it. Those who are rich do not have to allow their riches to become their undoing. They can use what God has blessed them with to use it for good. As Paul wrote:
1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
Whatever you have been blessed with in your lives considered it as a gift from God. When you have your heart in the right place, your time on this earth can be a happy time and the days will seem to pass by quickly as you get closer to that day that you can be with the Lord.
Though it is paraphrased, I like how the Anchor’s Bible present these last few verses of our chapter. It reads this way:
"So I reached the conclusion that what is satisfying and suitable is to eat and drink and enjoy oneself in all one's struggle under the sun, during the few years which God grants a man; that is what one gets out of it. Furthermore, every man to whom God grants riches and possessions, and enables him to benefit from them, and to possess his share and to be happy in his work -- he has a bonus from God. Such a man will not brood over the shortness of his life, when God keeps his mind occupied with happy thoughts."
In conclusion, we have learned that we should have minds focused on God especially when we are worshiping Him because He deserves our respect. We should also think about we are saying and not just speak to hear our head rattle. We should not make vows or promises to God we do not intend to keep. We also learned 7 reasons why riches are all vanity. Finally, we concluded that with God in the picture, it makes life worth living and we are to consider whatever we have been blessed with in this life as gift from God and we are to use it wisely as good stewards. We must never forget that our true treasure is in heaven and not on this earth.