Read Ecclesiastes 5
Fulfill Your Vow to God
5 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
2 Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.
3 A dream comes when there are many cares,
and many words mark the speech of a fool.
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. 5 It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. 6 Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? 7 Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God.
Riches Are Meaningless
8 If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still. 9 The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.
10 Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.
11 As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?
12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance
permits them no sleep.
13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
14 or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children
there is nothing left for them to inherit.
15 Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
and as everyone comes, so they depart.
They take nothing from their toil
that they can carry in their hands.
16 This too is a grievous evil:
As everyone comes, so they depart,
and what do they gain,
since they toil for the wind?
17 All their days they eat in darkness,
with great frustration, affliction and anger.
18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.
What if there was a way for marriages to be strengthened, parent-and-child relationships to be healed, and for employees and employers to have a healthy relationship? If a solution existed that could heal and strengthen all these relationships and much more, then wouldn’t we all want it? The wisdom from Solomon in Ecclesiastes 5 provides just the solution we’re looking for. We need to learn to shut our mouths, open our ears, and let our words be few.
In v. 2 Solomon tells his readers, “Do not be quick with your mouth.” We see the same admonition in James 1:19: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry….” We are to be quick to listen and slow to speak. We typically do the opposite—most are quick to speak and slow to listen. We want to win and be right so we make sure to get our point across by speaking. Instead, do not be quick with your mouth. Today, let’s ask God to help us be quick to listen.
He then tells us in v. 2 that “God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” His divine wisdom is always greater than ours. We don’t get to tell God what to do or how things should happen. Trying to instruct God is like a 5-year-old telling his parents how to drive or pay their taxes, except there’s an infinitely larger gap between our wisdom and God’s wisdom. We’re fools if we approach the Lord and tell Him what to do! Come to God with open ears to listen.
Lastly, we need to let our words be few. In v. 3 Solomon says, “Many words mark the speech of a fool.” This theme is similar to what Solomon said it Proverbs 18:2 says, “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” When we run our mouths without regard to listening or understanding, we earn the title of “fool.” One reason why marriages struggle, many walk around with wounds from their parents, and relationships in the workplace often struggle because we use too many words.
Today, our challenge is to heed the wisdom of Solomon and apply these words to our own lives.
- How can you work on listening more and speaking less?
- Do you ever find yourself questioning God and telling Him how something should turn out? Why do you think you do this?
- When is the last conversation you were in where you were the “fool” because you talked more instead of listening more?
God, we pray we would be different from the pattern of the world and the patterns of the fool. While most people are slow to listen and quick to speak and get angry, help me to be the exception to the rule. Help me to be someone who is known for being wise because I choose to listen. Help me to not be a fool in my relationship with others. And help me to let my words be few before You. Help me to humbly listen to you, trust you, and always remember you are in Heaven and I am on earth. Amen.
Harris Creek Sermon
Here is the fifth sermon of Harris Creek’s Ecclesiastes series based on a different part of this chapter “The Search for Meaning: The Curse and Blessing of Wealth.”
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2 thoughts on “Ecclesiastes 5”
Many times in the classroom I’ve pointed out to students that God gave us 2 ears but only 1 mouth, so we should do twice as much listening as we do talking. I am challenging myself to really listen and hear what’s said through words, and also what is being communicated from the heart. Especially as we gather with loved ones this week, there will be multitudes of words spoken. I’m asking God to “set a guard over my mouth and keep a watch over the door of my lips” so only Christ-honoring life-giving words flow from my mouth,
A simple a acronym that I came across sums up verse 2, “Do not be quick with your mouth,” (THINK) T=Is it true? , H= Is it helpful?, I=Is it inspiring?, N=Is it necessary?, I=Is it kind.? May we all THINK before we speak this Holiday season. Blessings,