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Ecclesiastes 5

 

OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER

1) To reflect upon the Preacher's observations gleaned from his search
   for the purpose of life

2) To notice the proper way to approach God in worship, and the danger
   of foolish vows

3) To appreciate the limitations of riches, and how the ability to
   enjoy them is a gift from God

SUMMARY

Having observed much folly during his search for the purpose of life,
the Preacher in this chapter offers counsel on such things as
worshipping God, making promises, seeing injustice in high places, and
properly using riches.

He urges caution when one goes to the house of God.  It is better to
draw near to hear than to offer the sacrifices of fools.  Therefore be
careful what you say (cf. Jm 1:26).  When you do make a vow or promise,
don't delay to pay it.  It is better not to vow, than to vow and not
keep it.  Do not let your mouth get you into trouble, thinking you can
simply excuse your way out of promises you have made.  The righteous
anger of God is to be feared (1-7).
[Jas 1:26 NKJV] 26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion [is] useless.

Returning to a theme discussed earlier (cf. 3:16-17; 4:1-3), he says
not to marvel when you see the oppression of the poor, or the
perversion of justice and righteousness.  Remember that every one
answers to someone higher.  Even the king is dependent upon those who
serve him, implying that he too will be held accountable (8-9).

Another theme recurrent throughout the Preacher's observations is the
proper use of riches.  Here he discusses the vanity of loving riches,
and the evil of hoarding riches to one's hurt.  Riches in of themselves
do not satisfy, they can be the source of much anxiety, and can easily
perish through misfortune (10-17).

It is fitting to enjoy the good in one's labor, but the ability to
enjoy is a gift from God.  God will keep one who is so blessed busy
with the joy of his heart (18-20).

OUTLINE

I. THE WORSHIP OF GOD (5:1-3)

   A. WALK CAREFULLY (1)
      1. When you go to house of God, draw near to hear
      2. Do not give the sacrifice of fools, for they do evil

   B. TALK CAUTIOUSLY (2-3)
      1. Do not be rash with your mouth
      2. Do not be hasty with your heart may utter before God
      3. Let your words be few
      4. Dreams (misleading?) come through much activity
      5. A fool is known by his many words

II. THE TAKING OF VOWS (5:4-7)

   A. FULFILL YOUR VOWS (4-5)
      1. When you make a vow, do not delay to pay it
      2. God has no pleasure in fools, pay what you have vowed
      3. It is better not to vow, than to vow and not pay

   B. WATCH YOUR MOUTH (6-7)
      1. Do not let your mouth lead you to sin
      2. Don't think you can excuse your rash statements and avoid 
         God's anger
      3. The multitude of dreams and many words are vanity; fear God!

III. THE INJUSTICE OF MEN (5:8-9)

   A. DON'T MARVEL AT OPPRESSION (8a)
      1. When you see the oppression of the poor
      2. When you see violent perversion of justice and righteousness

   B. EVERYONE IS ACCOUNTABLE (8b-9)
      1. High officials must answer to even higher officials
      2. As the profit of the land is for all, even the king is served 
         by the field

IV. THE VANITY OF RICHES (5:10-17)

   A. THEY DO NOT SATISFY (10-12)
      1. He who loves silver and riches will not be satisfied with 
         increase
      2. As goods increase, so does one's appetite; there is little 
         profit (satisfaction) other than to see them
      3. While the sleep of a laboring man is sweet, the abundance of 
         the rich troubles his sleep

   B. THEY ARE PERISHABLE (13-17)
      1. A severe evil seen is riches kept (hoarded) to the hurt of the
         owner 
      2. Such riches can perish through misfortune, leaving the owner...
         a. With nothing for one's descendants
         b. To go as naked as he came into this world
         c. Eating in darkness, with much sorrow, sickness, and anger

V. THE PROPER USE OF RICHES (5:18-20)

   A. ENJOY THEM AS A GIFT FROM GOD (18)
      1. It is good to eat, drink, and enjoy the good of one's labor
      2. This is one's heritage from God

   B. THE ABILITY TO ENJOY IS A GIFT FROM GOD (19-20)
      1. Riches, and the ability to enjoy them, are a gift from God
      2. One whom God has so blessed will not reflect unduly on his 
         life, because God keeps him preoccupied with joy and gladness

REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER

1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - The worship of God (1-3)
   - The taking of vows (4-7)
   - The injustice of men (8-9)
   - The vanity of riches (10-17)
   - The proper use of riches (18-20)

2) How should one conduct themselves when they seek to worship God? (1)
   - Walk prudently
   - Draw near to hear, not offer the sacrifice of fools

3) What two principles concerning vows are given by the Preacher? (4,5)
   - When you make a vow, do not delay to pay it
   - It is better not to vow, than to vow and not pay

4) Why should we not marvel when we see oppression, and perversion of
   justice and righteousness? (8)
   - For those in positions of authority have authorities watching over
     them

5) Why is it vanity to love riches? (10)
   - Those who love riches will never be satisfied

6) What is a frequent consequence of having an abundance of wealth? (12)
   - Troubled sleep caused by worrying about wealth

7) What is described as "a severe evil under the sun"? (13-17)
   - Riches kept (hoarded) to one's own hurt
   - Riches lost through misfortune, leaving one in sorrow, sickness, 
     and anger

8) What does the Preacher see as good and fitting for one to do? (18)
   - To eat, drink, and enjoy the good of one's labor under the sun

9) What is described as "the gift of God"? (19)
   - To be given riches and wealth, to be able to eat of it, and 
     rejoice in one's labor

10) Why will a person blessed by God not dwell unduly on the days of
    his life? (20)
   - Because God will keep him busy with the joy of his heart

Ecclesiastes 5

Fear God, keep your vows

[Ecc 5:1-20 NKJV] 1 Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. 2 Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God [is] in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few. 3 For a dream comes through much activity, And a fool's voice [is known] by [his] many words. 4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For [He has] no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed-- 5 Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. 6 Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger [of God] that it [was] an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words [there is] also vanity. But fear God.

The vanity of gain and honor

8 If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them. 9 Moreover the profit of the land is for all; [even] the king is served from the field. 10 He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also [is] vanity. 11 When goods increase, They increase who eat them; So what profit have the owners Except to see [them] with their eyes? 12 The sleep of a laboring man [is] sweet, Whether he eats little or much; But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep. 13 There is a severe evil [which] I have seen under the sun: Riches kept for their owner to his hurt. 14 But those riches perish through misfortune; When he begets a son, [there is] nothing in his hand. 15 As he came from his mother's womb, naked shall he return, To go as he came; And he shall take nothing from his labor Which he may carry away in his hand. 16 And this also [is] a severe evil--Just exactly as he came, so shall he go. And what profit has he who has labored for the wind? 17 All his days he also eats in darkness, And [he has] much sorrow and sickness and anger. 18 Here is what I have seen: [It is] good and fitting [for one] to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it [is] his heritage. 19 As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor--this [is] the gift of God. 20 For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps [him] busy with the joy of his heart.

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