Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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.3. Exhortations on Different Vanities
1. Concerning worship and vows (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7)
2. Concerning extortions (Ecclesiastes 5:8-9)
3. The vanities of wealth (Ecclesiastes 5:10-17)
4. The conclusion (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20)
Ecclesiastes 5:1-7. The writer, King Solomon, seems to have been exhausted in his descriptions as to the things under the sun. He pauseth and turns to something different. He meditates on worship, that man aims to get in touch with the unseen God. “He seems to turn to himself again and communes with his heart on the loftier heights of what proves to be, after all, but natural religiousness, and what cannot save him from the depths of unbelief, ignorance and despair, in which he is soon hopelessly floundering. Mindful of man’s jaunty liberalism and enslaving superstitions, rash vows and wordy prayers, shallow reverence and dreamy worship--dreamy and unreal because full of entreating vanities and worldly business, the speaker earnestly exhorts the multitude going to the house of God to have few words and slow and solemn steps in their worship and vows; but even then he does so like a natural man himself, knowing only of a God far away, who is looking upon the sinful on earth with cold judicial eye, ready to destroy the work of man in wrath.” (W.J. Erdman, Ecclesiastes)
The natural man may fear God, fear Him with a slavish fear, make an attempt to worship Him and do something, yet he does not know God nor can he know Him by himself. Christendom, even today, bears witness to the worship of the natural man. Yet this natural religion, which recognizeth the existence of a Creator, speaks of Him as the All-wise, the Omnipotent and the Eternal, makes an attempt to worship in a house by ceremonies and ritual, or that which takes on a more liberal form, does not meet the needs of man. God is still in heaven and man on earth (Ecclesiastes 5:2), and a vast distance between--an unbridged gulf. To bring man to God, to give him peace and assurance, to deliver him from fear, revelation is needed that which is “above the sun.” The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only provision.
Ecclesiastes 5:8-9. Once more he calls attention to oppression, the extortions so common “under the sun,” and he shows that One higher than they will some day judge them, for He has regard for the poor and the oppressed.
Ecclesiastes 5:10-17. He speaks now of wealth and of earthly prosperity. Silver does not satisfy, nor is he that loveth abundance satisfied with the increase. It is vanity. Earthly happiness in the things under the sun is a vain hope. The reasons why riches, and what goes along with them, cannot give true enjoyment have been searched out by the wise king and the results of his observations are given in these verses. “As he came forth from his mother’s womb naked so shall he go again as he came, and shall take nothing for his labor, which he may carry away in his hand ... and what profit hath he that he laboreth for the wind?” (See 1Timothy 6:7).
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20. What then has he seen and learned in observing all these vanities? He draws the conclusion that it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and then to enjoy to fullest extent the good which he has obtained all the days of his life, the life and length of days given him by the Creator. And if God has given him riches and wealth and the capacity to enjoy it, then he ought to take his portion and rejoice in his labor. Such a spirit of enjoyment will make him forget the evil in his day; it will carry him over the disagreeable things of life. “For he shall not much remember the days of his life, because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.” The latter phrase means that God Himself corresponds to his joy, for real enjoyment is a God-acknowledging spirit.