Rev. Timothy Kern, pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Marlette, MI, joins host Rev. Timothy Appel to study Ecclesiastes 5:1-17.
Solomon instructs us in the wisdom of guarding our words, both before God in worship and before others. Only when we are quick to listen to God’s Word will we know how best to speak before God. As we observe life under the sun, we should not be surprised by injustice and unrighteousness. Comfort is found in realizing that God is higher than all who would abuse their power in this way. Solomon notes once more that seeking after riches is vanity, for we end this life just as naked as we began it. Better than all this is to live with the fear of God for as many days as He gives.
“Wisdom for Life Under the Sun” is a series on Sharper Iron that goes through the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon’s favorite word in Ecclesiastes paints a bleak picture: “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!” Apart from God, life is nothing but vapor that does not last and can never be grasped. Yet Solomon does not leave us in despair. He shows us that life does have meaning in the faith and fear of God, from whom all things come to us as a gift.
Sharper Iron, hosted by Rev. Timothy Appel, looks at the text of Holy Scripture both in its broad context and its narrow detail, all for the sake of proclaiming Christ crucified and risen for sinners. Two pastors engage with God’s Word to sharpen not only their own faith and knowledge, but the faith and knowledge of all who listen.
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5 [a] Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. 2 [b] Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. 3 For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.
4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Let not your mouth lead you[c] into sin, and do not say before the messenger[d] that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity;[e] but[f] God is the one you must fear.
The Vanity of Wealth and Honor
8 If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. 9 But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields.[g]
10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? 12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.
13 There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, 14 and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. 15 As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. 16 This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is there to him who toils for the wind? 17 Moreover, all his days he eats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.
- Ecclesiastes 5:1 Ch 4:17 in Hebrew
- Ecclesiastes 5:2 Ch 5:1 in Hebrew
- Ecclesiastes 5:6 Hebrew your flesh
- Ecclesiastes 5:6 Or angel
- Ecclesiastes 5:7 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also verse 10 (see note on 1:2)
- Ecclesiastes 5:7 Or For when dreams and vanities increase, words also grow many; but
- Ecclesiastes 5:9 The meaning of the Hebrew verse is uncertain
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. esv.org