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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ecclesiastes 5:1

Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Church;   Formalism;   House of God;   Word of God;   Worship;   Thompson Chain Reference - Awe;   Deafness-Hearing;   Formalism;   Hearing;   House of God;   Religion;   Religion, True-False;   Reverence;   Reverence-Irreverence;   Spiritual;   Worship;   Worship, True and False;   The Topic Concordance - Foolishness;   Speech/communication;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Fools;   Heedfulness;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Word;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Man;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, the Book of;   Foot;   Prayer;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, Book of;   Israel, History of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ecclesiastes;   Fool;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Sandals;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Foot;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher;   Fool;   Foot;   Wisdom;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Ḳalir, Eleazar;   Ḳorban;   Piyyuṭ12735,Rime;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for September 14;  

Clarke's Commentary

CHAPTER V

The reverence to be observed in attending Divine worship, 1-3.

We should be faithfu1 to over engagements, 4-7.

The oppression of the innocent, 8.

The king dependent on the produce of the soil, 9.

Against covetousness, 10, 11.

The peace of the honest labourer, 12.

The evil effect of riches, 13, 14.

Man cannot carry his property to the grave, 15-17.

We should thankfully enjoy the blessings of God, 18-20.

NOTES ON CHAP. V

Verse Ecclesiastes 5:1. Keep thy foot — This verse the Hebrew and all the versions join to the preceding chapter.

Solomon, having before intimated, though very briefly, that the only cure against human vanity is a due sense of religion, now enters more largely on this important subject, and gives some excellent directions with regard to the right performance of Divine service, the nature of vocal and mental prayer, the danger of rash vows, c. - C.

The whole verse might be more literally translated thus: -

"Guard thy steps as thou art going to the house of God and approach to hearken, and not to give the sacrifice of fools, for none of them have knowledge about doing evil." "They offer gifts for their sins, and do not turn from their evil works; for they know not (they distinguish not) between good and evil." See the Chaldee.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ecclesiastes-5.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


5:1-10:20 MAKE THE MOST OF LIFE’S FRUSTRATIONS

Advice about religion (5:1-7)

Among the many affairs of everyday life that the writer deals with is the matter of religious practices. First he warns that the offering of sacrifices is useless if the worshippers have no desire to listen to God’s word or obey it (5:1). Those thinking of making vows must consider their vows carefully before telling them to God. Too many words may lead to foolish vows, just as too much work can produce bad dreams (2-3).
People are not forced to make vows, but having made them they must do as they have promised. If they break their vows, it is useless to make excuses to the temple officials. That will not help the offenders escape the chastisement of God (4-6). Therefore, the writer reminds his readers again to avoid silly thoughts and foolish speech, and above all to fear God (7).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:1". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/ecclesiastes-5.html. 2005.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

ADVICE REGARDING THE PRACTICE OF HOLY RELIGION[1]

Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

"Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God; for to draw nigh to hear is better than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they know not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. For a dream cometh with a multitude of business, and a fool's voice with a multitude of words. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou vowest. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. 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 thy hands? For in the multitude of dreams there are vanities, and in many words: but fear thou God."

We find a dramatic switch here from Solomon's `I' passages to a series of admonitions to one addressed as, "thou." As we have frequently noted, Solomon was very good at telling other people what to do! We find a brief summary of this whole paragraph in the Living Word Paraphrase: "As you enter the Temple, keep your ears open, and your mouth shut."[2]

"Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God" (Ecclesiastes 5:1). Recent versions render this: "Guard your steps, as you go to the house of God,"[3] or, "Go carefully when you visit the house of God."[4] The `house of God' here is a reference to Solomon's Temple; and `keep thy foot' is an idiomatic expression standing for one's entire pattern of behavior. This declares that acceptable worship in God's sight is not merely an outward observance of religious duties, but also includes a pattern of life honoring God's commandments.

"The sacrifice of fools" (Ecclesiastes 5:1). "Be not rash with thy mouth" (Ecclesiastes 5:2). These verses reflect Solomon's views as stated in Proverbs. "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to Jehovah (Proverbs 15:8)." "He that refraineth his lips doeth wisely" (Proverbs 10:19). Not only is the worship of wicked men an abomination of God, so also is the worship of any person who engages in it without regard to the proper understanding and intention of it. As Jesus stated it, "They that worship Him must worship him in Spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).

"And a fool's voice with a multitude of words" (Ecclesiastes 5:3). The author is still dealing with the problem of rash speech. The world is still suffering under the curse of countless words regarding religion that are totally without any value.

"Better is it that thou shouldest not vow ... etc." (Ecclesiastes 5:4). Hannah, Jonah and Jephthah are among those whose `vows' are mentioned in the Word of God. See comments in Numbers 6:1-21; Jonah 2:9; 1 Samuel 1:19-28; and Judges 11:29-40. Jephthah is often cited as an example of one who made a rash vow; and Jonah's prayer indicates that he had made vows without paying them. Christians today are not sinless in this matter of keeping our promises to God. Our very baptism is "a holy vow" to love and serve God through Jesus Christ; and any failure to do this falls under the condemnation cited here. 2 Peter 2:20:22, with reference to the Christian who, in a sense, "vows to serve God in Christ," and then turns back, declares that it would have been far better for such a person, "not to have known the way of righteousness." This is very nearly the same thing that is here stated with reference to the making of vows, that it would be far better not to vow than to vow and then not perform it.

"Neither say thou before the angel that it was an error" (Ecclesiastes 5:6). The word `angel' here is used in the same sense as in Revelation 1:20, namely, as a messenger of God; and in this case it is a reference to the priest or other functionary in the Temple in whose presence a vow might have been pledged.

"Fear God" (Ecclesiastes 5:7). In a word, this is the message of the whole paragraph. The worship and service of the holy and righteous God is no flippant or casual business. It is weighted with eternal meaning and significance. Furthermore, we must not write this paragraph off as some outmoded example of Old Testament harshness. The New Testament also even more urgently warns us in the same manner (Matthew 7:21ff; 23:16ff; and 1 Corinthians 11:27ff). "No amount of emphasis upon the grace of God can justify taking liberties with God. The very conception of grace demands gratitude; and gratitude can never be casual."[5]

Copyright Statement
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:1". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/ecclesiastes-5.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Keep thy foot - i. e., Give thy mind to what thou art going to do.

The house of God - It has been said that here an ordinary devout Hebrew writer might have been expected to call it “the house of Yahweh;” but to those who accept this book as the work of Solomon after his fall into idolatry, it will appear a natural sign of the writer’s self-humiliation, an acknowledgment of his unworthiness of the privileges of a son of the covenant, that he avoids the name of the Lord of the covenant (see Ecclesiastes 1:13 note).

Be more ready to hear - Perhaps in the sense that, “to draw near for the purpose of hearing (and obeying) is better than etc.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/ecclesiastes-5.html. 1870.

Smith's Bible Commentary

Chapter 5

Keep your foot when you go to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they do not consider the evil that they do ( Ecclesiastes 5:1 ).

When you go into the house of God, listen. Be more ready to hear.

Don't be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and you are upon the earth: therefore let your words be few ( Ecclesiastes 5:2 ).

And now he's talking about going in the house of God and making all kinds of promises and vows to God. "Oh, God, I'm going to serve You. Oh, God, I'm going to put you first in my life. Oh, God," and making all these promises. He said, "Keep your mouth shut. Don't do a lot of talking. Listen. For God is there. He's in heaven. He hears what you're saying. So don't be hasty to utter anything."

For a dream comes through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by the multitude of his words. Now when you vow a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools: pay what you have vowed. It is better that you should not vow, than that you should vow and not pay. Don't allow your mouth to cause your flesh to sin ( Ecclesiastes 5:3-6 );

All of the broken promises that we have made to God because we didn't have enough sense to just listen and keep our mouth shut when we came into the house of God. And so we make these rash promises. These vows before the Lord. And then we break them. Better not to vow. You see, the vow always makes me feel better. Because I get sort of satisfied, I promised God I'm going to give Him everything, you know. All I have belongs to God. God, you can have it all. And I feel relieved of my guilt of amassing things, because after all, it all belongs to God. I gave it to Him. Now He never has a chance to use it. But when I die, who is it going to go to? "Suffer not your mouth to cause your flesh to sin."

neither say you before the angel, that it was an error ( Ecclesiastes 5:6 ):

Oh, I didn't really mean that.

wherefore why should God become angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of your hands? For in the multitude of dreams and in many words there is also divers vanities: but reverence God ( Ecclesiastes 5:6-7 ).

Respect Him.

For if you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perverting of judgment and the justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regards; and there be higher than they ( Ecclesiastes 5:8 ).

God is higher than man. If you see these things, just know that there is one who is higher.

Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: and the king himself is served by the field. Now he that loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loves abundance with increase: this also is vanity ( Ecclesiastes 5:9-10 ).

Jesus said a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things that he possesses. If you love silver, you'll never be satisfied. If you love abundance, you'll never be satisfied by the abundance.

When goods increase, they are increased that eat them ( Ecclesiastes 5:11 ):

So Solomon had more goods, but he had more people eating them.

and what good is it to the owners thereof, except that you get to watch them eat? ( Ecclesiastes 5:11 )

I mean, I've got all of these goods, but it takes so many servants to keep all of these cattle. Takes so many shepherds to watch over all these. I got to feed them all. So I've got all these, but what good is it? You get to watch everybody eat it up, you know. All my wives and all my kids sitting there eating, and all the servants, all eating, so. So you have a lot, so what? You know. What good is it to you? You can only eat so much. You can only sleep in one bed. I mean, you know, you can only take care of your own needs, and after that, whatever you have, you just watch others eat it up.

The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much: but the abundance of the rich won't allow him to sleep ( Ecclesiastes 5:12 ).

The guy is out there laboring hard, he really sleeps sound. But yet this guy has so many riches he's lying there in the pillow, "Now tomorrow I better take the stock out of that one, looks like it's going down. Better invest in this, oh, I wonder, would that be wise?" And all night long he's mulling over what he's going to be doing tomorrow to get more riches. And the abundance of his possessions won't allow him to sleep. He lies there pounding the pillow all night. Figuring out. So how sweet is the sleep of the laboring man.

There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt. But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, there is nothing in his hand. And as he came forth out of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, he shall take nothing of his labor, which he may carry away in his hand ( Ecclesiastes 5:13-15 ).

Man, when you die, you're not going to take anything with you. You're going to leave it all.

And this also is a sore evil, in all the points as he came, so he's going to go: so what profit has he of all that which he labored for to the wind? For all of the days he eats in darkness, and he has much sorrow and wrath in his sickness. 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 of his labor that he has taken under the sun all of the days of his life, which God gives him: for it is his portion ( Ecclesiastes 5:16-18 ).

In other words, enjoy it now, because, man, that's your portion. That's it. Now, how different this is than what Jesus said concerning our riches. He said, "Lay not up for yourself treasures on earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt and decay, thieves break through and steal. Lay up for yourself treasures in heaven" ( Matthew 6:19-20 ). There is a way by which you can transfer your treasures into eternal treasures. And Jesus encourages us towards that. You can exchange your currency for that which is current in heaven.

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 labor; this is the gift of God. For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answers him in the joy of his heart ( Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 ). "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:1". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/ecclesiastes-5.html. 2014.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

The effect of rash vows 5:1-7

An interlude of proverbs follows the personal section just concluded.

"The sacrifice of fools" in view (Ecclesiastes 5:1) is a rash vow, as is clear from what follows. Ecclesiastes 5:3 seems to compare the verbosity of a fool in making a rash vow to God and the endless dreams one often experiences after a very busy day. Much work generates many dreams, and a fool utters too many words. [Note: Kaiser, Ecclesiastes . . ., p. 75.] If a person makes a rash promise to God and then does not keep it, God may destroy the work of his hands (Ecclesiastes 5:6). Pleading with the priest ("the messenger of God," Ecclesiastes 5:6) that the vow was a mistake would not excuse the vow-maker (cf. Deuteronomy 23:21-23).

"Our promise may involve giving to some special work of God or pledging prayer and other support for a missionary. When the representative of the work looks for the fulfillment of our promise, we must not draw back and make an excuse about not having understood what we were required to do." [Note: J. S. Wright, "Ecclesiastes," p. 1168.]

Ecclesiastes 5:7 uses dreams to illustrate what is ephemeral. "Fear God" (Ecclesiastes 5:7) also occurs in Ecclesiastes 3:14; Ecclesiastes 7:18; Ecclesiastes 8:12-13; and Ecclesiastes 12:13.

". . . we should try to put ourselves in a position to discover God’s way to use what he has given us in our daily life." [Note: Ibid.]

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:1". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/ecclesiastes-5.html. 2012.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God,.... The house of the sanctuary of the Lord, the temple built by Solomon; and so any place of divine worship, where the word of God is preached, and his ordinances administered. The wise man, having observed many vanities under the sun, directs men to the house of God, where they might learn the nature of them, and how to avoid them; though if care was not taken, they would find or introduce vanity there; which, of all vanities, is the worst, and ought to be guarded against. Wherefore, when men go to any place of divine worship, which to do is their duty and interest, and for their honour, pleasure, and profit, they should take care to "keep [their] feet", for the singular is here put for the plural, not from going into it; nor does it signify a slow motion towards it, which should be quick, in haste, showing earnestness, fervency, and zeal; but they should keep their feet in proper case, in a suitable condition. The allusion is either to the pulling off of the shoes off the feet, ordered to Moses and Joshua, when on holy ground, Exodus 3:5; and which the Jews observed, when they entered the temple on their festivals and sabbaths, even their kings, as Juvenal k jeers them: not that such a rite should be literally used now, or what is analogous to it; putting off of the hat, in a superstitious veneration of a place; but what was signified by it, as the putting off of the old man, with his deeds, laying aside depraved affections and sordid lusts; two apostles, James and Peter, have taught us this, when we come to the house of God to hear his word, James 1:21; or the allusion is to the custom of persons in those eastern countries dressing or washing their feet when they visited, especially those of any note; and entered into their houses on any business, as Mephibosheth, when he waited on David, 2 Samuel 19:24; or to the practice of the priests, who washed their feet when they went into the tabernacle of the Lord, Exodus 30:19. Schindler l says that hence (because of this text) the Jews had before their synagogues an iron fixed in the wall (which we call a "scraper"), on which they cleaned their shoes before they went into the synagogue. All which may denote the purity and cleanness of the conversation of the true worshippers of God; for, as the feet are the instruments of the action of walking, they may intend the conduct and behaviour of the saints in the house of God, where they should take care to do all things according to his word, which is a lamp to the feet, and a light unto the path: moreover, what the feet are to the body, that the affections are to the soul; and these, when a man enters into the house of God for worship, should be set on divine and spiritual things, and not on the world, and the things of it, which will choke the word heard, and make it unprofitable; the thoughts should be composed, sedate, and quiet, and the mind attentive to what is spoken or done; or otherwise, if diverted by other objects, the service will be useless;

and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools; there are sacrifices to be offered unto God in his house, which are acceptable to him; the sacrifices of beneficence and alms deeds to the poor, with which he is well pleased; and the presentation of the bodies of men, as a holy, living, and acceptable sacrifice unto him; and especially their hearts, and those as broken and contrite, which are the sacrifices of God; as also the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, which are acceptable to him through Jesus Christ: and under the former dispensation, while sacrifices were in use by divine appointment, when they were offered up in the faith of the sacrifice of Christ, they were well pleasing to God; but when they were not done in faith, and were without repentance for sin and reformation of life; when men retained their sins with them, and made these a cover for them, and thought by them to make atonement for their crimes, they were no other than the sacrifices of fools, and abominable unto God; see Isaiah 1:11; when these sacrifices were performed in the best manner, moral duties, as hearing and obeying the word of the Lord, and showing mercy to men, and offering up the spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, were preferred unto them,

1 Samuel 15:22; and much more to the sacrifices of fools. To be ready, or near m, is to hear the word of the Lord, as Jarchi interprets it; though Aben Ezra understands it of God being near to hear his people, when they call upon him in truth. The word of the Lord was not only read publicly in the temple and synagogues, but was explained by the priests and prophets, the ecclesiastical rulers of the people; see Malachi 2:7; so the Targum,

"draw near thine ear to receive the doctrine of the law, from the priests and wise men:''

and so the people of God should draw near to hear the word; be swift to hear it, attentive to it, and receive it with all reverence, humility, love, and affection; and should not take up with mere outward forms, which is but the sacrifice of fools;

for they consider not that they do evil; or "know not" n; they think they are doing well, and doing God good service, when they are doing ill; they know not truly the object of worship, nor the spiritual nature of it, nor the right end and true use of it: or, "they know not, [only] to do evil", so Aben Ezra supplies it: to do good they have no knowledge: or, "they know not to do the will", or "good pleasure" o; that is, of God; this sense of the word Aben Ezra mentions.

k "Observant ubi festa mero pede sabbata reges", Satyr. 6. v. 158. l Lexic. Pentaglott. col. 1692. m קרוב "propinquus", Montanus; "propinquior", Mercerus, Schmidt. n אינם יודעים "non ipsi scientes", Montanus; "nesciunt", Pagninus, Mercerus, Cocceius; "scire nolunt", Schmidt. o לעשות רע "facere veluntatem ejus", Pagninus, Mercerus.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:1". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ecclesiastes-5.html. 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

A Caution to Worshippers.

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

      Solomon's design, in driving us off from the world, by showing us its vanity, is to drive us to God and to our duty, that we may not walk in the way of the world, but by religious rules, nor depend upon the wealth of the world, but on religious advantages; and therefore,

      I. He here sends us to the house of God, to the place of public worship, to the temple, which he himself had built at a vast expense. When he reflected with regret on all his other works (Ecclesiastes 2:4; Ecclesiastes 2:4), he did not repent of that, but reflected on it with pleasure, yet mentions it not, lest he should seem to reflect on it with pride; but he here sends those to it that would know more of the vanity of the world and would find that happiness which is in vain sought for in the creature. David, when he was perplexed, went into the sanctuary of God,Psalms 73:17. Let our disappointments in the creature turn our eyes to the Creator; let us have recourse to the word of God's grace and consult that, to the throne of his grace and solicit that. In the word and prayer there is a balm for every wound.

      II. He charges us to behave ourselves well there, that we may not miss of our end in coming thither. Religious exercises are not vain things, but, if we mismanage them, they become vain to us. And therefore,

      1. We must address ourselves to them with all possible seriousness and care: "Keep thy foot, not keep it back from the house of God (as Psalms 25:17), nor go slowly thither, as one unwilling to draw nigh to God, but look well to thy goings, ponder the path of thy feet, lest thou take a false step. Address thyself to the worship of God with a solemn pause, and take time to compose thyself for it, not going about it with precipitation, which is called hasting with the feet,Proverbs 19:2. Keep thy thoughts from roving and wandering from the work; keep thy affections from running out towards wrong objects, for in the business of God's house there is work enough for the whole man, and all too little to be employed." Some think it alludes to the charge given to Moses and Joshua to put off their shoes (Exodus 3:5) in token of subjection and reverence. Keep thy feet clean, Exodus 30:19.

      2. We must take heed that the sacrifice we bring be not the sacrifice of fools (of wicked men), for they are fools and their sacrifice is an abomination to the Lord,Proverbs 15:8), that we bring not the torn, and the lame, and the sick for sacrifice, for we are plainly told that it will not be accepted, and therefore it is folly to bring it,--that we rest not in the sign and ceremony, and the outside of the performance, without regarding the sense and meaning of it, for that is the sacrifice of fools. Bodily exercise, if that be all, is a jest; none but fools will think thus to please him who is a Spirit and requires the heart, and they will see their folly when they find what a great deal of pains they have taken to no purpose for want of sincerity. They are fools, for they consider not that they do evil; they think they are doing God and themselves good service when really they are putting a great affront upon God and a great cheat upon their own souls by their hypocritical devotions. Men may be doing evil even when they profess to be doing good, and even when they do not know it, when they do not consider it. They know not but to do evil, so some read it. Wicked minds cannot choose but sin, even in the acts of devotion. Or, They consider not that they do evil; they act at a venture, right or wrong, pleasing to God or not, it is all one to them.

      3. That we may not bring the sacrifice of fools, we must come to God's house with hearts disposed to know and do our duty. We must be ready to hear, that is, (1.) We must diligently attend to the word of God read and preached. "Be swift to hear the exposition which the priests give of the sacrifices, declaring the intent and meaning of them, and do not think it enough to gaze upon what they do, for it must be a reasonable service, otherwise it is the sacrifice of fools." (2.) We must resolve to comply with the will of God as it is made known to us. Hearing is often put for obeying, and that is it that is better than sacrifice,1 Samuel 15:22; Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 1:16. We come in a right frame to holy duties when we come with this upon our heart, Speak, Lord, for thy servant hears. Let the word of the Lord come (said a good man), and if I had 600 necks I would bow them all to the authority of it.

      4. We must be very cautious and considerate in all our approaches and addresses to God (Ecclesiastes 5:2; Ecclesiastes 5:2): Be not rash with thy mouth, in making prayers, or protestations, or promises; let not thy heart be hasty to utter any thing before God. Note, (1.) When we are in the house of God, in solemn assemblies for religious worship, we are in a special manner before God and in his presence, there where he has promised to meet his people, where his eye is upon us and ours ought to be unto him. (2.) We have something to say, something to utter before God, when we draw nigh to him in holy duties; he is one with whom we have to do, with whom we have business of vast importance. If we come without an errand, we shall go away without any advantage. (3.) What we utter before God must come from the heart, and therefore we must not be rash with our mouth, never let our tongue outrun our thoughts in our devotions; the words of our mouth, must always be the product of the meditation of our hearts. Thoughts are words to God, and words are but wind if they be not copied from the thoughts. Lip-labour, though ever so well laboured, if that be all, is but lost labour in religion, Matthew 15:8; Matthew 15:9. (4.) It is not enough that what we say comes from the heart, but it must come from a composed heart, and not from a sudden heat or passion. As the mouth must not be rash, so the heart must not be hasty; we must not only think, but think twice, before we speak, when we are to speak either from God in preaching or to God in prayer, and not utter any thing indecent and undigested, 1 Corinthians 14:15.

      5. We must be sparing of our words in the presence of God, that is, we must be reverent and deliberate, not talk to God as boldly and carelessly as we do to one another, not speak what comes uppermost, not repeat things over and over, as we do to one another, that what we say may be understood and remembered and may make impression; no, when we speak to God we must consider, (1.) That between him and us there is an infinite distance: God is in heaven, where he reigns in glory over us and all the children of men, where he is attended with an innumerable company of holy angels and is far exalted above all our blessing and praise. We are on earth, the footstool of his throne; we are mean and vile, unlike God, and utterly unworthy to receive any favour from him or to have any communion with him. Therefore we must be very grave, humble, and serious, and be reverent in speaking to him, as we are when we speak to a great man that is much our superior; and, in token of this, let our words be few, that they may be well chosen,Job 9:14. This does not condemn all long prayers; were they not good, the Pharisees would not have used them for a pretence; Christ prayed all night; and we are directed to continue in prayer. But it condemns careless heartless praying, vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7), repeating Pater-nosters by tale. Let us speak to God, and of him, in his own words, words which the scripture teaches; and let our words, words of our own invention, be few, lest, not speaking by rule, we speak amiss. (2.) That the multiplying of words in our devotions will make them the sacrifices of fools,Ecclesiastes 5:3; Ecclesiastes 5:3. As confused dreams, frightful and perplexed, and such as disturb the sleep, are an evidence of a hurry of business which fills our head, so many words and hasty ones, used in prayer, are an evidence of folly reigning in the heart, ignorance of and unacquaintedness with both God and ourselves, low thoughts of God, and careless thoughts of our own souls. Even in common conversation a fool is known by the multitude of words; those that know least talk most (Ecclesiastes 10:11; Ecclesiastes 10:11), particularly in devotion; there, no doubt, a prating fool shall fall (Proverbs 10:8; Proverbs 10:10), shall fall short of acceptance. Those are fools indeed who think they shall be heard, in prayer, for their much speaking.

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Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:1". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/ecclesiastes-5.html. 1706.