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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 5:1Comments- 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) (H 6045). It means, "ado, employment, an affair," comes from the root verb ( עָנָה) (H 6031), 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 Song of Solomon , 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 5:4Illustration- 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 1992that 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 12weeks 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. Song of Solomon , 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 8-12

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

2. Riches without contentment — Ecclesiastes 6:1-12


Verses 8-20

Riches and Covetousness- We can entitle the theme of Ecclesiastes 5:8-20 as "Riches and Covetousness". The more one toils, the more one is beset by those who deplete it. Even the powerful take the riches that are due the poor because of greed. Yet, when a person dies, he cannot take his possessions with him. God"s gift is to be content to enjoy the blessings that He has given to us. Note in chapter three, that God"s divine hand is involved in every event in life. God has a plan for each person, so that we can enjoy His daily blessings while being content in the midst of our situations in life, and thus, we learn to enjoy each day as we thank God for His blessings. Otherwise, we complain about what we do not yet have and are prone to covet that which belongs to our neighbour.

Ecclesiastes 5:8 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.

Ecclesiastes 5:9 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.

Ecclesiastes 5:9 — "Moreover the profit of the earth is for all" - Comments- When the land yields its abundance of resources, it is not for the king along, but for all to enjoy. Too often the powerful rob these resources from the poor, who bring in the harvest.

Ecclesiastes 5:9 — "the king himself is served by the field" - Comments- How is the king served by the field? Through the principles of economics, taxes eventually make their way into the hands of the king. From the laborer all the way up to the king, every person in a society experiences the blessings from the field.

Note that everything that you see around you, buildings, cars, furniture, even our physical bodies, comes from the ground. These minerals are the building blocks of materials and even life.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.

Ecclesiastes 5:11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?

Ecclesiastes 5:11Scripture Reference- Note a similar verse:

Ecclesiastes 4:4, "Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit."

Ecclesiastes 5:12 The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

Ecclesiastes 5:12Comments - King Solomon was a person of much activity and labor. He built more buildings and expanded the kingdom more than any other king of Israel. He probably spent many sleepless nights toiling over activities, while he noticed his servants and those who did the labor sleeping peacefully.

I have worked hard and labouring in jobs for years. Each night that I laid down to sleep, I found it sweet and restful, without stress. As I have grown older and moved into management and little physical labour, I have experienced more stress and my sleep is not as deep and restful. Instead of sleeping through the night, I often wake up. Material riches increase stress over the cares of this world, and also affects a person's sleep. Thus, Ecclesiastes 5:12 tells us that exercise is good to relieve stress and improve our ability to sleep at night.

Ecclesiastes 5:13 There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.

Ecclesiastes 5:14 But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a Song of Solomon , and there is nothing in his hand.

Ecclesiastes 5:15 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.

Ecclesiastes 5:15 — "As he came forth of his mother"s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came" - Scripture References- Note similar verses:

Job 1:21, "And said, Naked came I out of my mother"s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."

Psalm 49:17, "For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him."

1 Timothy 6:7, "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out."

Ecclesiastes 5:16 And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind?

Ecclesiastes 5:17 All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness.

Ecclesiastes 5:18 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.

Ecclesiastes 5:19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.

Ecclesiastes 5:19 — "and to take his portion" - Comments- The phrase "and to take his portion" refers to the need to find balance in our lives. We should not get into excess in any one area of life. If we have a hobby collecting things, we do not have to collect them all, for this vexes our souls to strive to get them all. We are to learn to enjoy the portion we have today.

Ecclesiastes 5:20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20Comments - Enjoying the Gift of God- The Preacher reaches the same conclusion for both the labourer and the wealthy, for the rich and the poor. They are to enjoy the fruit of their work. They are not to be lazy ( Ecclesiastes 4:5), neither should they overwork ( Ecclesiastes 4:8).

Ecclesiastes 4:5, "The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh."

Ecclesiastes 4:8, "There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith Hebrews , For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail."

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/ecclesiastes-5.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 5th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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