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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Ecclesiastes 5

Verses 1-7

The Vanity of External Religion: Exhortation to Fear God Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 describes the man in pursuit of a plan. In one’s busy schedule and haste to accomplish a multitude of tasks there come dreams in the night and rash vows to God. In these vows we want God to bless our own plans, when we, in fact, should wait before the Lord and hear His plans for our daily pursuits.

Illustration - I was considering making a vow one day by promising the Lord I would give my study notes free to everyone if he would bless my labours of working with my father to supply my financial needs. I quickly realized that I might be changing God’s plan for my life. A man can set his own destiny by making a vow and detract from God’s plan for his life. He must learn to enjoy his daily labours by resting in God’s divine providence and intervention.

Ecclesiastes 5:1 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.

Ecclesiastes 5:1 Comments - As a manager of Lighthouse Television in Kampala, Uganda, when a marketing agent enters my office, I want them to come in, sit down and wait for me to lead the conversation. This is the only way that I can organize my daily tasks so that information can be digested and decisions made. When a marketing agent comes into my office at my request and begins to talk as he walks in the door, I ask him to please sit down and let me lead the conversation. I am not trying to be rude, but rather, I am trying to avoid allowing information to enter my office without order and control. For example, I may be on the telephone while someone is knocking at the door. I must have a way to organize the information that comes to me so that proper discussions are held and correct decisions are made. This cannot take place when I allow information to flow at random and with no order. The point is that there is an order in which to approach those in authority, and the order never involves walking in and doing all of the talking. It does involve being ready to sit down and listen.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God” Comments - We do not always make our vows to God, but we do always make them before God. In other words, any vow we make is heard by God.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 “therefore let thy words be few” - Illustrations:

Matthew 6:7, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

Luke 18:11-14, “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Ecclesiastes 5:3 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words.

Ecclesiastes 5:3 “For a dream cometh through the multitude of business” Word Study on “business” Strong says the Hebrew word “business” ( עִנְיָן ) (H6045). It means, “ado, employment, an affair,” comes from the root verb ( עָנָה ) (H6031), which means, “to depress, afflict, or abase oneself.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 8 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as, “ travail 6, business 2.”

Comments - It has been my experience that when I busy myself with an activity during the course of the day or the week, I tend to think about it after work and get inspired ideas. This is how God created us. In contrast, a lazy person never has any creative ideas, because he has no goals to reach, no ambition. But for those who are diligent, their time of rest also becomes a time of meditation and inspiration. This is often how God guides us. For example, I once was dealing with an electrical problem with the rear taillights on an old pickup truck that I used as a part of my daily work. I had just painted this truck, which required me to remove and reinstall the truck bed. In doing so, I did not realize that I had pinched some electrical wires that went to the rear taillights. I searched until I found the pinched wires and repaired them, but the problem did not go away. One night I had a dream in which I saw a hand reach under the dashboard of the truck and pull out the fuse box. This and turned the fuse box over to expose the back side and pointed to wires on the lower end of this box. The next morning, I went out to my truck, located this fuse box, looked in the same location that this hand was pointing, and to my complete surprise, I found two wires that has melted together as a result of the wires being pinched in the rear of the vehicle. Thus, my dream was stimulated by my busy efforts to fix this problem.

Comments - A day of busy activities and concerns brings on dreams in the night which seem to have little meaning behind them. Likewise, much talking creates the voice of a fool at the end of the day. His much talking has little effect in its ability to correct the concerns of daily life.

Ecclesiastes 5:4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.

Ecclesiastes 5:4 Illustration - I will never forget the vow that I made to the Lord one night in church. The Lord had spoken to me while working with Jack Emerson in Panama City to build Him a house. I promised the Lord one night at Word of Faith Church in Dallas about 1992 that if He would give me a precious young virgin wife, filled with the Holy Spirit, that I would build Him “the largest house in the world.” Little did I dream that He would hold me to such a vow. Within 12 weeks of receiving my beautiful wife from the Philippines, He sent me to Africa to work in the largest ministry in the world, which is Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) television stations. This ministry contacts more people with the message of Jesus daily than any other ministry in the history of the Church. So, I have learned that God is faithful. So when someone asks me why I would go to Africa, I do not tell them about my vow, I just tell them that I want to be faithful to serve the Lord, but inside I know what the Lord is doing and why He sent me here.

Ecclesiastes 5:5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.

Ecclesiastes 5:6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?

Ecclesiastes 5:6 “Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin” Scripture Reference - Note:

James 1:26, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.”

Ecclesiastes 5:6 “neither say thou before the angel” Comments - We can interpret the phrase “neither say thou before the angel” by the previous verses that tell us not to enter the house of God and utter a vow hastily. Thus, the phrase “before the angel” can be equated to “in the house of God.” We know from testimonies of those believers who have seen in the spirit realm that God assigns His angels to watch over each church and sanctuary. Thus, when we make a vow in the sanctuary, we are actually speaking “before the angel” that has been assigned there.

Ecclesiastes 5:6 “that it (was) an error” Comments - We are not to make excuses later and try to back out of our vows (Proverbs 20:25).

Proverbs 20:25, “It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry .”

Ecclesiastes 5:7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.

Ecclesiastes 5:7 “For in the multitude of dreams” - Comments - The word “dream” in Ecclesiastes 5:7 seems to carry the idea of thoughts of vain pursuits. It reflects someone who is always coming up with vain ideas of what they intend to do. Note:

Rotherham, “For it was done amidst a multitude of dreams, and vanities, and many words, but, towards God, be thou reverent.”

BBE, “Because much talk comes from dreams and things of no purpose. But let the fear of God be in you.”

Verses 1-20

The Preacher Explains His Conclusion In Ecclesiastes 4:1 thru Ecclesiastes 6:12 the Preacher uses illustrations from life and from creation to support his theme that mankind is depraved. In this section, he discusses the overall condition of mankind in his fallen state of depravity. However, this time he makes his evaluation from the perspective of divine judgment.

We see a progressive order of events in this passage of Scripture. Man’s fall in the Garden of Eden resulted in his mortality. Mortal man became depraved by his sin. This depravity led man into a state of unrightousness. He now oppresses the weak, labours without rest, toils selfishly all the days of his life, and struggles to gain ascendancy over others. Thus, those who reach positions of power, wealth and leadership over others are no better than those they rule over. This is the Preacher’s way of reasoning with us to see his point of view that our mortal lives are full of vanity.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Vanity of Oppression on Earth Ecclesiastes 4:1-3

2. The Vanity of Toil on Earth Ecclesiastes 4:4-6

3. The Vanity of Selfish on Earth Ecclesiastes 4:7-12

4. The Vanity of Nobility on Earth Ecclesiastes 4:13-16

5. The Vanity of External Religion (Fear God) Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

Verses 1-20

The Preacher Explains His Conclusion In Ecclesiastes 4:1 thru Ecclesiastes 6:12 the Preacher uses illustrations from life and from creation to support his theme that mankind is depraved. In this section, he discusses the overall condition of mankind in his fallen state of depravity. However, this time he makes his evaluation from the perspective of divine judgment.

We see a progressive order of events in this passage of Scripture. Man’s fall in the Garden of Eden resulted in his mortality. Mortal man became depraved by his sin. This depravity led man into a state of unrightousness. He now oppresses the weak, labours without rest, toils selfishly all the days of his life, and struggles to gain ascendancy over others. Thus, those who reach positions of power, wealth and leadership over others are no better than those they rule over. This is the Preacher’s way of reasoning with us to see his point of view that our mortal lives are full of vanity.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Vanity of Oppression on Earth Ecclesiastes 4:1-3

2. The Vanity of Toil on Earth Ecclesiastes 4:4-6

3. The Vanity of Selfish on Earth Ecclesiastes 4:7-12

4. The Vanity of Nobility on Earth Ecclesiastes 4:13-16

5. The Vanity of External Religion (Fear God) Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

Verses 8-20

The Vanity of Riches - There are two dangers to having riches. The first is that riches can easily cause the heart to become covetous, which is discusses in Ecclesiastes 5:8-20. Man’s covetousness results in wealth being accumulated through wicked means. The second vice is that men tend to find no rest and contentment after having accumulated wealth. This negative aspect of riches is discussed in Ecclesiastes 6:1-12. When men gain wealth by honorable methods, he is still in danger of falling prey to discontentment and failing to enjoy the life that God intended him to enjoy.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Riches and covetousness Ecclesiastes 5:8-20

Verses 8-20

The Vanity of Riches - There are two dangers to having riches. The first is that riches can easily cause the heart to become covetous, which is discusses in Ecclesiastes 5:8-20. Man’s covetousness results in wealth being accumulated through wicked means. The second vice is that men tend to find no rest and contentment after having accumulated wealth. This negative aspect of riches is discussed in Ecclesiastes 6:1-12. When men gain wealth by honorable methods, he is still in danger of falling prey to discontentment and failing to enjoy the life that God intended him to enjoy.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Riches and covetousness Ecclesiastes 5:8-20

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/ecclesiastes-5.html. 2013.