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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
Bible Study Resources
Nave's Topical Bible - Dream; Speaking; Words; Thompson Chain Reference - Dreams; Evil; Folly; Fools; Silence-Speech; Speaking, Evil; Talk, Vain; Vain Talk; Wisdom-Folly; The Topic Concordance - Foolishness; Speech/communication; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Dreams;
Verse Ecclesiastes 5:3. For a dream cometh — That is, as dreams are generally the effect of the business in which we have been engaged during the day; so a multitude of words evidence the feeble workings of the foolish heart.
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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:3". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ecclesiastes-5.html. 1832.
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).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:3". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/ecclesiastes-5.html. 2005.
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 ).
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 ). "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:3". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/ecclesiastes-5.html. 2014.
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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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:3". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/ecclesiastes-5.html. 2012.
For a dream cometh through the multitude of business,.... Or, "for as a dream" q, so Aben Ezra; as that comes through a multiplicity of business in the daytime, in which the mind has been busied, and the body employed; and this brings on dreams in the night season, which are confused and incoherent; sometimes the fancy is employed about one thing, and sometimes another, and all unprofitable and useless, as well as vain and foolish;
and a fool's voice [is known] by multitude of words; either his voice in conversation, for a fool is full of words, and pours out his foolishness in a large profusion of them; or his voice in prayer, being like a man's dream, confused, incoherent, and rambling. The supplement, "is known", may be left out.
q כי בא "ut prodit somnium", Junius Tremellius "nam ut venit", Piscator; "quia sicut venit", Mercerus, Ramabachius, so Broughton.
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
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:3". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ecclesiastes-5.html. 1999.
|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.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:3". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/ecclesiastes-5.html. 1706.
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13