Ecclesiastes 5
Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
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.
Ecclesiastes 5:2

To bind myself to diligence in seeking the Lord, and to stir me up thereto, I made a vow to pray so many times a day; how many times I cannot be positive; but it was at least thrice. It was the goodness of God to me, that it was made only for a definite space of time; but I found it so far from being a help, that it was really a hindrance to my devotion, making me more heartless in, and averse to, duty, through the corruption of my nature. I got the pain of it driven out accordingly; but I never durst make another of that nature since, nor so bind up myself, where God had left me at liberty.

—Thomas Boston.

Ecclesiastes 5:2

'Suddenly and offhand,' says Köstlin, 'Luther was hurried into a most momentous decision. Towards the end of June, 1505, when several Church festivals fall together, he paid a visit to his home at Mansfeld in quest, very possibly, of rest and comfort to his mind. Returning on 2nd July, the feast of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary, he was already near Erfurt, when, at the village of Stotternheim, a terrific storm broke over his head. A fearful flash of lightning darted from heaven before his eyes. Trembling with fear, he fell to the earth and exclaimed, "Help, Anna, beloved Saint! I will be a monk!" A few days after, when quietly settled at Erfurt, he repented having used these words. But he felt that he had taken a vow.'

Do not accustom yourself to enchain your volatility with vows; they will sometimes leave a thorn in your mind, which you will, perhaps, never be able to extract or eject. Take this warning; it is of great importance.

—Johnson to Boswell.

Ecclesiastes 5:2

What people call fluency, and the gift of prayer, is often delusive; it is mere excitement from the presence of others, and from the sound of our own voice.

—F. W. Robertson.

There is no need to say much to God. One often does not talk much to a friend whom one is delighted to see; one enjoys looking at him, and one says some few words which are purely matter of feeling. One does not so much seek interchange of thought as rest and communion of heart with one's friend. Even so it should be with God—a word, a sigh, a thought, a feeling, says everything.


Reference.—V. 2.—J. T. Bramston, Sermons to Boys, p. 116.

Ecclesiastes 5:8

In describing the need for the reforms of Cæsar under the new monarchy, Mommsen (History of Rome, book v. xl.) declares that 'the most incurable wounds were inflicted as justice by the doings of the advocates. In proportion as the parasitic plant of Roman forensic eloquence flourished, all positive ideas of right became broken up.... A plain, simple defendant, says a Roman advocate of much experience at this period, may be accused of any crime at pleasure which he has, or has not, committed, and will be certainly condemned.'

For a tear is an intellectual thing.

And a sigh is the sword of an Angel king,

And the bitter groan of a martyr's woe

Is an arrow from the Almighty bow.


There are some persons of that reach of soul that they would like to live 250 years hence, to see to what height of empire America will have grown up in that period, or whether the English constitution will last so long. These are points beyond me. But I confess I should like to live to see the downfall of the Bourbons. That is a vital question with me; and I shall like it the better, the sooner it happens.


See Lowell's poem, Villa Franca.

The repugnance of man to injustice is with him an early and favourite topic of proof.

—Gladstone on Butler.

Reference.—V. 8.—A. W. Momerie, Agnosticism, p. 219.

Ecclesiastes 5:10

See Ruskin's On the Old Road (II. sec. 162) for a comment on a 'lover of silver '.

Ecclesiastes 5:13

To acquire interest on money, and to acquire interest in life are not the same thing.

—Edward Carpenter.

References.—V. 13-20.—R. Buchanan, Ecclesiastes: its Meaning and Lessons, p. 191. V. 15.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy ScriptureEcclesiastes, p. 358.

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.
For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words.
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.
Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.
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?
For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.
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.
Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.
He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
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?
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.
There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.
But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand.
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.
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?
All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness.
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.
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.
For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.
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