ECCLESIASTES CHAPTER 5.
The Advancement of Earthly Happiness.
PROPER WORSHIP OF GOD. ó V. 1. Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, carefully watching lest it stray aside from the path leading to the Lordís Temple and such a personís heart be affected with thoughts which interfere with true devotion, and be more ready to hear, rather, ďapproach to hear,Ē to listen to and to heed the Word of God, than to give the sacrifice of fools, as is done in thoughtless and hypocritical worship; for they consider not that they do evil, they do not realize how deeply they offend the Lord with their irreverent behavior. V. 2. Be not rash with thy mouth, quick to speak, especially in thoughtless prayer, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God, since prayer demands an attitude of true devotion; for God is in heaven, exalted above all levity and thoughtless form of worship, and thou upon earth, immeasurably beneath the majesty of the almighty Sovereign of the earth; therefore let thy words be few, not indulging in heathenish babbling, Matt. 6, 7. V.3. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business, when a person is engrossed with the cares and anxieties of his work, his dreams are apt to mislead him into a land of make believe; and a foolís voice is known by multitude of words, he believes the efficacy of prayer depends upon the amount of language expended, whereas it depends upon the sincerity of the mind resting upon the true devotion of faith. V. 4. When thou vowest a vow unto God, such vows among the Jews being included in the precepts of their religion, Num. 30, 2; Deut. 23, 21-23, defer not to pay it, this admonition being directed against hasty and ill-considered vows; for He hath no pleasure in fools, God wants no vows to be made in a spirit of levity, without regarding their sanctity; pay that which thou hast vowed, Ps. 66, 13. 14. V. 5. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, Deut. 23, 22, not make rash promises supported by an obligation before the Lord, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay, provided the vow is in agreement with the great precepts of Godís Word, especially the command of love. V. 6. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin, for the sensual nature of man is stimulated by the sins of the tongue; neither may thou before the angel, before the priest, as the representative of the Lord, that it was an error, the object being to escape the consequences of an unfulfilled vow; wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, which has thus become guilty of lying, and destroy the work of thine hands? The punishment of God, in a case of this kind, is shown not only in the failure of undertakings, but also in the overthrowing of projects already established. V. 7. For in the multitude of dreams, foolish fancies concerning Godís requirements of men in worship, and many words, hasty and ill-considered, there are also divers vanities, they are unreliable and do not fit a person for the duties which the Word of God lays upon him; but fear thou God, for the fear of God, as the basis of all true wisdom, will guide the steps of man aright on the way of true sanctification.
ABSTAINING FROM VICES AND FOSTERING VIRTUES. ó V. 8. If thou seest the oppression of the poor, chap. 4, 1, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, chap. 3, 16, marvel not at the matter, for such things are to be expected in this wicked world, 1 Pet. 4, 12, wherefore the believers should also not be worried about the eventual trend of justice; for He that is higher than the highest regardeth, and there be higher than they, above all the rulers of this world is the great Sovereign of them all, who will finally adjudicate all matters which now often seem mingled in a hopeless muddle. V. 9. Moreover, the profit of the earth, the increase or produce of the land, is for all; the king himself is served by the field, and therefore the great Lord of all will finally punish all those who abused their authority and robbed the poor of their share in this worldís goods. V. 10. He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver, for the covetous is never satisfied, never happy; nor he that loveth abundance with increase, having his heart set on a multitude of possessions, for the more he has, the more he wants; this is also vanity, for it cannot yield true happiness. V. 11. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them, for with in. creasing wealth comes the demand for more servants, and they and other dependents are consumers rather than producers; and what good is there to the owners thereof, what benefit have they of all their possessions, saving the beholding of them with their eyes? a feeling of pleasure which cannot permanently satisfy. V. 12. The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, sound and healthful, whether he eat little or much, whether he has a generous supply of food or must be satisfied with nourishment just sufficient to sustain life; but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep, rich foods together with worry over his possessions drive the sleep from the eyes of the wealthy. V. 13. There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt, carefully taken care of by guardians, but later a snare to the possessors, plunging them into many evil and hurtful lusts. V. 14. But those riches perish by evil travail, they are lost by the various misfortunes attending wealth; and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand, he is an heir of poverty. V. 15. As he came forth of his motherís womb, naked shall be return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labor, which he may carry away in his hand, whatever treasures be has gained he must leave behind. Cp. Job 1, 21; Ps. 49, 17; 1 Tim. 6, 7. V. 16. And this also is a sore evil, not only the fact that the rich must leave all his wealth behind, but that he is subject to death, as are all human beings, that in all points as he came, so shall he go, departing without a cent; and what profit hath he that hath labored for the wind? for he stored up his wealth without use and benefit, since he must leave all behind. V. 17. All his days also he eateth in darkness, always under a gloomy cloud, never sure of the continuance of his wealth, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness, nothing but annoyance and dissatisfaction on account of the anxiety connected with the acquiring and maintaining of his riches. V. 18. Behold that which I have seen, the conclusion which he reaches also in this chapter: 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, without avarice on the one hand, and without care and worry on the other; for it is his portion, which he should use properly while living in this world. V. 19. Every man also to whom God bath given riches and wealth, as a blessing bestowed by Godís loving-kindness, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, in a lawful use of his wealth, and to rejoice in his labor, enjoying the fruit thereof according to Godís will; this is the gift of God, to be accepted and used in that sense only, and not after the manner of the avaricious fool who hoards his riches and spoils his chances for happiness. V. 20. For he shall not much remember the days of his life, for the memory of any earthly enjoyment is brief; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart, vouchsafing to him such happiness in this life as will enable him to sojourn amidst the disappointments of this earth with a heart resting in trust in the heavenly Father, that being the ideal which the believer should keep before his eyes always.