Friday, May 26, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Ecclesiastes- Chapter 5

Ecclesiastes 5

-Chapter five begins a section on our attitudes toward God in some more of Solomon’s general observations. His first wisdom is that we should guard our steps as we go to the House of God drawing near to listen rather than offering a sacrifice of fools. This is evil without knowing it, and can bring upon ourselves all sorts of disaster in regards to the LORD’s blessing. Solomon states that we should never be “hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God.” Because God is above us in Heaven and we are on the earth in subjection, we should obviously let our words be few (check out Translations differ on the words of verse three. The New American Standard Bible renders it, “For the dream comes through much (rob- multitude, abundant, greatness) effort (`inyan- occupation, job, task),” while others render it, “For a dream cometh through the multitude of business.” The word for “dream” can be interpreted as being the ordinary subconscious thoughts during sleep due to an overactive lifestyle, or it can be interpreted possibly as prophetic in a biblical sense. Getting a word directly from God, in this later interpretation, includes hard work. Otherwise, we could say that what Solomon is getting at is the fact that putting our own human effort into things tends to unsettle our sleep with weird dreams and mixed thoughts while trying to rest. Interpreting the article as “the (definite)” or “a (generic)” plays a part in developing our understanding here as well. The second part of verse three is much easier to decipher. Foolish people expose themselves with their many words (Ecclesiastes 5:1-3).

-When making a vow before the LORD, we should never be late in paying it. In other words, what we promise before God, we should quickly and accurately fulfill. God takes no delight in fools. We should do what we tell God we are going to do and not compromise. It is better that we don’t make vows to Him rather than telling Him we will do something and then not come through. What Solomon is discussing here has to do with degrees of sin when making promises. Our voice can get us into much trouble when we make careless vows before God. This can destroy the work of our hands as God rescinds possible blessings. “For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God (Ecclesiastes 5:4-7).”

-Some monetary thoughts now consume the king’s mind as he goes on. If we see the oppression of the poor and the denial of justice and righteous in the province, we should not be shocked. The king is in total and absolute control and one official is watching over another official with lines of authority. The land will find advantage if there is justice and righteousness at the top, eventually and providentially. The person who loves money will never be satisfied with money in and of itself. The love of abundance with its income too is vanity. When there is prosperity, there is greater consumption by the population, and Solomon economically doesn’t see the advantage for the owners except to look on (Ecclesiastes 5:8-11). American-capitalist economists might disagree here, don’t ya think?

-The sleep of the working man is pleasant because of their hard labor, whether they eat little or much. But, the worries, drama, and stresses of the luxurious often times negatively affect the sleep of the rich. Solomon sees a grievous evil under the sun, that being riches which are hoarded by their owner to his own hurt. Riches lost in bad investing has disastrous effects on the younger generation when there is nothing to support them. They will return to the dust as they came from their mother’s womb, naked and taking nothing from the fruit of his labor carried in his hand. This state of dying exactly as a person is born is also a grievous evil in the Preacher’s sight. He sees no advantage to him who toils for the wind. He sees people eating throughout their lives in darkness with great vexation, sickness, and anger. What he has seen to be “good and fitting” is to eat, drink, and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor during the few years of life God apportions. This is mankind’s only reward. But, this is flawed thinking, a temporal worldview perspective once again as we have seen in past chapters. Furthermore, if one is blessed enough to have great wealth and riches, they should realize that this is a gift of the Almighty. Why? Because most of the time they have a tendency to not consider the years of their lives due to the fact that God keeps them occupied with the gladness of their heart (Ecclesiastes 5:12-20).

-*Application* The current American culture reflects much of what Solomon is talking about as a human condition 3,000 years ago. Not much has changed. The rich tend to hoard for themselves, bad investments take place which drain the family’s accountants leaving no inheritance for the future generations, and stress levels are through the roof. Often, people are so distracted by money matters that they either worry themselves sick about the situation or make their wealth their god consuming themselves with materialism. It is important in this climate, to consider our attitudes towards God. Don’t make empty promises to Him. It’s better to not make any guarantees at all if we are lying to Him. Come before His presence with few words. Our pride too often gets in the way of enjoying God’s true direction, plans, and purposes. We need to watch being hasty in our words and impulsive in our thoughts. He is God in Heaven and we are here on earth. It reminds us to pray the prayer Christ taught us, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10).” In many dreams and in many words there will be emptiness; rather, we should fear, reference, adore, and be in awe of the LORD.

Verses to Memorize: Ecclesiastes 5:2, 7

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