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.

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.

5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.

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 thine hands?

7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.

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.

9 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.

10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.

11 When 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?

12 The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

13 There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.

14 But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand.

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 labour, which he may carry away in his hand.

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 laboured for the wind?

17 All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness.

18 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 his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.

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 labour; this is the gift of God.

20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Ecclesiastes
Book: Ecclesiastes
Chapter: 5

Overview:
What renders devotion vain. (1-3) Of Vows, and oppression.
(4-8) The vanity of riches shown. (9-7) The right use of riches.
(18-20)

1-3 Address thyself to the Worship of God, and take time to
compose thyself for it. Keep thy thoughts from roving and
Wandering: keep thy affections from running out toward wrong
objects. We should avoid vain repetitions; copious prayers are
not here condemned, but those that are unmeaning. How often our
Wandering thoughts render attendance On Divine ordinances little
better than the Sacrifice of fools! Many words and hasty ones,
used in Prayer, show folly in the Heart, low thoughts of God,
and careless thoughts of our own souls.

4-8 When a person made engagements rashly, he suffered his
mouth to cause his Flesh to Sin. The case supposes a Man coming
to the Priest, and pretending that his vow was made rashly, and
that it would be wrong to fulfil it. Such mockery of God would
bring the Divine displeasure, which might blast what was thus
unduly kept. We are to keep down the fear of Man. Set God before
thee; then, if thou seest the oppression of the Poor, thou wilt
not find fault with Divine Providence; nor think the worse of
the institution of magistracy, when thou seest the ends of it
thus perverted; nor of religion, when thou seest it will not
secure men from suffering wrong. But though oppressors may be
secure, God will reckon for all.

9-17 The Goodness of Providence is more equally distributed
than appears to a careless observer. The King needs the common
things of Life, and the Poor share them; they relish their
morsel better than he does his luxuries. There are bodily
desires which Silver itself will not satisfy, much less will
worldly abundance satisfy spiritual desires. The more men have,
the better House they must keep, the more servants they must
employ, the more guests they must Entertain, and the more they
will have Hanging On them. The sleep of the labourer is sweet,
not only because he is tired, but because he has little care to
break his sleep. The sleep of the diligent Christian, and his
long sleep, are sweet; having spent himself and his time in the
service of God, he can cheerfully repose in God as his Rest. But
those who have every thing else, often fail to secure a good
night's sleep; their abundance breaks their Rest. Riches do
hurt, and draw away the Heart from God and duty. Men do hurt
with their riches, not only gratifying their own lusts, but
oppressing others, and dealing hardly with them. They will see
that they have laboured for the wind, when, at Death, they find
the profit of their labour is all gone like the wind, they know
not whither. How ill the covetous worldling bears the calamities
of human Life! He does not sorrow to Repentance, but is angry at
the Providence of God, angry at all about him; which doubles his
affliction.

18-20 Life is God's Gift. We must not view our Calling as a
drudgery, but take pleasure in the Calling where God puts us. A
cheerful Spirit is a great blessing; it makes employments easy,
and Afflictions Light. Having made a proper use of riches, a Man
will remember the days of his past Life with pleasure. The
manner in which Solomon refers to God as the Giver, both of Life
and its enjoyments, shows they ought to be received and to be
used, consistently with his will, and to his Glory. Let this
Passage recommend to all the kind words of the merciful
Redeemer, "Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that
meat which endureth unto Everlasting Life." Christ is the Bread
of Life, the only Food of the soul. All are invited to partake
of this heavenly provision.

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