Ecclesiastes Ch. 5
We will now begin Chapter 5 of the great book of Ecclesiastes.
5:1 “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.”
- Obeying God is better than the sacrifices of fools. The “house of God” could refer to the temple in Jerusalem. He warns us here to make sure that we watch ourselves when we approach God, especially in prayer which Solomon will address in the next set of verses.
5:2 “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”
- “Think before you speak.” It’s a phrase we hear all the time, and it applies to prayer as well. Solomon wants his readers to realize that we are on earth, and Almighty God is in heaven. We need to be humble, and speak wisely to him. As Jesus says in Matthew 6:7-8 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
5:3 “A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool.”
- If we worry about something too much, we have dreams about it. If we ask God something or talk to God with babbling, we are fools, because God knows what we need or want before we ask.
5:4-6 “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands?”
- “It is better not to make a vow then make one and not fulfill it.” This is much like the child who was never born. He is better off than the dead and the living because he didn’t have to go through the suffering the living and dead did. If you don’t think you can keep your vow, don’t make it. Vows then are kind of like promises today. Don’t make a promise you can’t keep.
5:7 “Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God.”
- King Solomon gives us some insight that many dreams don’t have a use, they don’t have much meaning. Also many words are also meaningless, because you can get your point across without a lot of words. Fear God because he is in heaven.
5:8 “ If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still.”
- Do not be surprised by the treatment of people by officials. People can and will abuse the power they have. There is also someone over them who has more power than they. But God has more power than all of them.
5:9 “The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.”
- The food that the land produces is harvested by all except the king, yet he is the one that gets the best of the harvested crops. Solomon shows us another example of how life is not fair, and how power and riches are meaningless.
5:10 “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.
- This all goes back to the fact that God is our only source of satisfaction. Why? Because he is everything. Money, fame, and wealth are all temporary temptations. Whoever loves anything of this world, will never be satisfied with what they have.
5:11 “As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?”
- Solomon here is continuing on his thoughts of riches and their uselessness. The consumers of the food are no benefit to the owners because the consumers are eating the food that belongs to the owners. It doesn’t seem fair but that’s the way it has always been.
5:12 “The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep.
- I like this verse and here’s why. The laborer’s sleep is sweet because they worked hard and long. The amount of food they eat doesn’t matter to them because of the progress they made. The rich however, do not sleep, because one, they rested all day. And two, they do not deserve the abundance of food they have because they did not work for it. So as far as sleep goes, the laborer gets the better sleep.
5:13-14 “I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners, or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when they have children there is nothing left for them to inherit.”
- We see here that selfishness is a “grievous evil” according to Solomon. When you don’t share your wealth, it is harmful to you because you are not sharing it, or you may worry about your possessions. Or when you don’t have any at all because you were foolish with it, and now you have nothing left to give.
5:15-17 “Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands. This too is a grievous evil: As everyone comes, so they depart, and what do they gain, since they toil for the wind? All their days they eat in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger.”
- People come into this world the same way they go out, empty handed. So solomon looks at labor and thinks, “What’s the point of working, we have to leave it all here anyway.” So why be happy because life is pointless. But then in the next few verses we will see the answer Solomon has been looking for.
5:18-20 “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.”
- This is a beautiful piece of writing by King Solomon about our life. He says that it is a gift from God that we have the ability to enjoy life, and to work happily and to appreciate life here during the few days we’re on it. Solomon also points out that God has given us this life, so what better reason to enjoy it because of where life comes from. God is the source of all things. -1 Corinthians 8:6
Now we come to the end of Chapter 5.