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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Ecclesiastes 5

Verses 1-20

Ecclesiastes 5:2

To bind myself to diligence in seeking the Lord, and to stir me up thereto, I made a vow to pray so many times a day; how many times I cannot be positive; but it was at least thrice. It was the goodness of God to me, that it was made only for a definite space of time; but I found it so far from being a help, that it was really a hindrance to my devotion, making me more heartless in, and averse to, duty, through the corruption of my nature. I got the pain of it driven out accordingly; but I never durst make another of that nature since, nor so bind up myself, where God had left me at liberty.

Thomas Boston.

Ecclesiastes 5:2

'Suddenly and offhand,' says Köstlin, 'Luther was hurried into a most momentous decision. Towards the end of June, 1505, when several Church festivals fall together, he paid a visit to his home at Mansfeld in quest, very possibly, of rest and comfort to his mind. Returning on 2nd July, the feast of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary, he was already near Erfurt, when, at the village of Stotternheim, a terrific storm broke over his head. A fearful flash of lightning darted from heaven before his eyes. Trembling with fear, he fell to the earth and exclaimed, "Help, Anna, beloved Saint! I will be a monk!" A few days after, when quietly settled at Erfurt, he repented having used these words. But he felt that he had taken a vow.'

Do not accustom yourself to enchain your volatility with vows; they will sometimes leave a thorn in your mind, which you will, perhaps, never be able to extract or eject. Take this warning; it is of great importance.

Johnson to Boswell.

Ecclesiastes 5:2

What people call fluency, and the gift of prayer, is often delusive; it is mere excitement from the presence of others, and from the sound of our own voice.

F. W. Robertson.

There is no need to say much to God. One often does not talk much to a friend whom one is delighted to see; one enjoys looking at him, and one says some few words which are purely matter of feeling. One does not so much seek interchange of thought as rest and communion of heart with one's friend. Even so it should be with God a word, a sigh, a thought, a feeling, says everything.

FÉnelon.

Reference. V. 2. J. T. Bramston, Sermons to Boys, p. 116.

Ecclesiastes 5:8

In describing the need for the reforms of Cæsar under the new monarchy, Mommsen ( History of Rome, book v. xl.) declares that 'the most incurable wounds were inflicted as justice by the doings of the advocates. In proportion as the parasitic plant of Roman forensic eloquence flourished, all positive ideas of right became broken up.... A plain, simple defendant, says a Roman advocate of much experience at this period, may be accused of any crime at pleasure which he has, or has not, committed, and will be certainly condemned.'

For a tear is an intellectual thing.

And a sigh is the sword of an Angel king,

And the bitter groan of a martyr's woe

Is an arrow from the Almighty bow.

Blake.

There are some persons of that reach of soul that they would like to live 250 years hence, to see to what height of empire America will have grown up in that period, or whether the English constitution will last so long. These are points beyond me. But I confess I should like to live to see the downfall of the Bourbons. That is a vital question with me; and I shall like it the better, the sooner it happens.

Hazlitt.

See Lowell's poem, Villa Franca.

The repugnance of man to injustice is with him an early and favourite topic of proof.

Gladstone on Butler.

Reference. V. 8. A. W. Momerie, Agnosticism, p. 219.

Ecclesiastes 5:10

See Ruskin's On the Old Road (II. sec. 162) for a comment on a 'lover of silver '.

Ecclesiastes 5:13

To acquire interest on money, and to acquire interest in life are not the same thing.

Edward Carpenter.

References. V. 13-20. R. Buchanan, Ecclesiastes : its Meaning and Lessons, p. 191. V. 15. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Ecclesiastes, p. 358.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/ecclesiastes-5.html. 1910.