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.”
The Moffatt translation
renders this, “Never enter God’s house carelessly; draw near him to listen,
and then your service is better than what fools offer - for all a fool knows
is how to do wrong.”
“... the sacrifice of fools”
is what the unconverted in their ignorance think is worship, and it just such
a “sacrifice” that is offered for the most part every Lord’s day by the vast
majority of those who constitute today’s Christendom, but who have never been
born again spiritually by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
True worship is that which
is offered by born again baptized believers on the first day of the week, when
they assemble around the Lord’s table as directed in Scripture, everything
said and done there being at the impulse of the Holy Spirit, and apart from
the “ministry” of a clergyman, priest, or other human intermediary, every
believer being a royal priest as declared in 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen
generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye
should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into
his marvelous light.”
The misled “worshipers”
described in this verse know not that they are doing wrong, for their false
teachers have taught them that what they are doing is right.
5:2. “Be not
rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before
God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be
While the primary lesson
here is against making hasty vows to God, the instruction applies also to the
presentation of our worship. We are not to be in a hurry to speak in God’s
presence, either in making a vow, or in the presentation of our worship when
we assemble around the Lord’s table on the first day of each week.
Christendom for the most part having long since lost the knowledge of what
constitutes scriptural worship, the “worshippers” don’t speak at all at the
meeting convened for worship, but leave that to the hired clergyman or
priest. But even amongst the small minority who still adhere to the
scriptural order, it happens all too frequently that men participate audibly
when it is painfully obvious that the Holy Spirit has not impelled them to
Those who would draw near to
God to worship should do so in reverential fear, remembering that He is the
omnipotent Creator, they His creatures.
5:3. “For a
dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fools voice is known by
multitude of words.”
The first part of this verse
is also translated, “Surely a dream comes from a multiplicity of business,”
“For nightmares come with many cares,” “Dreaming comes from much worrying.”
One may become so obsessed with business that it intrudes upon his sleep in
the form of disturbing dreams, and robs him of his necessary rest.
And just as the sleep of the
over zealous businessman is disturbed by dreams, so does the foolish man
betray his foolish thinking in the volume of his idle words. The wise man’s
words are few and well chosen.
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.”
When a man vows a vow to God
he should fulfil it as quickly as possible, for God is displeased with the
man, the fool, who makes vows hastily, and then neglects to keep them. This
knowledge should impel very careful consideration of promises we make to God,
lest we find ourselves unable to fulfil what we have promised.
5:5. “Better is
it that thou shouldst not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”
It is far better not to make
a vow at all, than to make one and not keep it.
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 thy hands.”
The vow not kept makes the
delinquent a liar; nor should he seek to excuse his sin by saying to the angel
(probably God’s agent the priest), that he had made the vow in error. A vow
is not something to be uttered lightly, without very careful thought as to
whether it can be kept.
As for God’s destroying “the
work of thy hands,” this is generally understood to mean that the breaking of
a vow will provoke God’s anger, so that instead of blessing the man’s work, He
will destroy everything the offender undertakes.
The severe punishment
attending the breaking of a vow reveals the terrible nature of the sin of
lying, its heinousness deriving perhaps from the fact that it was by Satan’s
lie to Eve that sin came into the world.
5:7. “For in the
multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear
This is variously
translated, “For through the multitude of dreams and vanities there are also
many words: but fear thou God,” “For it was done amidst a multitude of dreams
and vanities and many words - but towards God be thou reverent,” “For through
many empty dreams come many vows,” “For in many dreams and follies and many
words - this remains: You shall revere God,” For when dreams increase, empty
words grow many: but do you fear God.”
As a result of dreams and
multiplied empty words, many useless things are done, such as making rash
vows; but man’s blessing lies in his having a reverential awe of God, which
expresses itself in obedient living.
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.”
As God’s amanuenses, Solomon
advised that no one should be surprised or shocked at seeing oppression of the
poor, or perversion of justice by corrupt government officials. These crimes
were only to be expected from men with fallen sinful natures.
The latter half of the verse
is generally taken to mean that there are many ranks of judges and government
officials; and while “he that is higher than the highest” may refer to God, it
is understood by many scholars to apply to the king who is the highest human
official or ruler.
the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.”
The produce of the earth
feeds all, including the king, for he too, like every other man, cannot live
apart from what the earth produces.
The Wycliffe Bible
explains this verse “... not only do all the officials get a share of the
extortion, but there is no cultivated area which does not fall under
5:10. “He that
loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance
with increase: this is also vanity.”
He who sets his heart on the
accumulation of silver, i.e., worldly wealth, will never be satisfied, no
matter how much he accumulates; nor will a covetous man’s possessions ever
satisfy him; but the truth is that in the final analysis the quest of both is
as worthless as chasing the wind.
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?”
The worthlessness of earthly
things is further declared in the fact that as a man’s estate enlarges so do
his expenses: there is an increasing retinue of servants to be maintained, so
that while the owner may find pleasure in looking upon his possessions, that
is really the only pleasure he derives from them; and as noted already, when
it comes his time to die he will not be able to take even one penny with him
5:12. “The sleep
of the laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance
of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.”
The sleep of the laboring
man is untroubled by anxious care, but the contrary is true of the rich man,
for concern relative to his possessions robs him of sleep.
5:13. “There is
a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the
owners thereof to their hurt.”
“... sore” is also
translated grievous, incurable, great, the evil which they describe being the
means whereby their riches sometimes bring evil upon those who possess them,
that occurrence being described in such terms as “by evil adventure ...
perish by being ill employed ... in some unlucky venture, etc.” A possible
dramatic example of such loss is that which occurred in the great stock market
crash of the 1930's, which bankrupted rich men overnight, and led some of them
to commit suicide.
5:14. “But those
riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in
“... evil travail” is also
translated, “evil adventure; by being ill employed; an evil chance; unlucky
venture.” By some such means as those mentioned here, riches may vanish, and
the man who expected to be able to leave them to his son, is reduced to
poverty so that the son inherits nothing and is thus left penniless.
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 labor, which he may carry away in his hand.”
As men come into this world
naked, possessing nothing, so do they leave it. Whatever riches a man may
amass must all be left behind on earth as his soul departs either to eternal
bliss or eternal torment depending on whether he trusted Christ as his Savior.
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 labored for the wind?”
This continues the
description of the man who has amassed wealth and then lost it, so that his
remaining days on earth are spent in penury, there being not even lasting
earthly happiness for all his toil; all his labor to make money being as
worthless as if he had chased the wind.
5:17. “All his
days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his
“All his days” in the
present context seem to relate to the part of his life after he has lost all
his wealth, so that the remainder of his days are beclouded or darkened
mentally, spent not only in poverty, but in sorrow, anger, and mental
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 labor that he taketh under the sun all the days
of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.”
Solomon’s assessment of
one’s life is that it is good and proper for men to eat and drink and enjoy
the fruits of their labor, that being the portion God has given men during
their lives here on earth.
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 labor; this is the
gift of God.”
To some men God gives riches
and wealth, and the health to enjoy them, and such men may rightly rejoice in
the labor connected with the management and use of their God-given wealth.
There is nothing wrong with a man’s being rich: it is the coveting and selfish
use of wealth that is sinful.
5:20. “For he
shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the
joy of his heart.”
This is also translated,
“... he shall not often think of the brevity of his life, because God keeps
his heart occupied with gladness; he will not brood over the fewness of his
days, for God is giving him his heart’s delight; he will hardly dwell on the
shortness of his life, because God lets him busy himself with the joy of his
Relative to what is written
here The Liberty Bible Commentary makes the following instructive
comment, “The man who achieves this recommended perspective enjoys a heart-joy
that makes the circumstances of a given day inconsequential, for God causes
him to be continuously occupied with joy.”