Keep your foot when you go to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools…
It is evident that the services of the pious Israelites were by no means merely sacrificial and ceremonial. There is a reflective and intellectual character attributed to the approach of the Hebrew worshippers to their God. The practical admonitions of this passage have reference, not to a formal, but to an intelligent and thoughtful worship.
I. THE HOUSE OF GOD. By this is to be understood no doubt a place, a building, probably the temple at Jerusalem. But clearly it follows from this language that in the view of the writer of Ecclesiastes the idea of the locality, the edifice, is almost lost sight of in the idea of the spiritual presence of Jehovah, and in the society and fellowship of sincere and devout worshippers. God, it was well understood, dwelleth not in temples made with hands, but abideth in his people's hearts.
II. THE SACRIFICE OF FOLLY. In every large gathering of professed worshippers there is reason to fear there are those with whom worship is nothing but a form, a custom. The sacrifice of such is outward only; their postures, their words, may be unexceptionable, but the heart is absent from the service. Inattention, want of true interest, unspirituality, take the place of those penitential acknowledgments - that heavenward aspiration - which are acceptable to him who searcheth the hearts and trieth the reins of the children of men. The sacrifice of such formal and irreverent worshippers is justly designated a sacrifice of fools. They consider not their own nature, their own needs; they consider not the attributes of him whom they profess to approach with the language of adoration, of gratitude, of petition. They are, therefore, not only irreligious; they are foolish, and they seem to say to every sensible observer that they are fools.
III. THE WORSHIP OF THE WISE. In contrast with the careless and undevout we have here depicted the spirit and the demeanor of true worshippers. They are characterized by:
1. Self-restraint. The modest repression of all that savors of self-assertion seems to be intended by the admonition, "Keep thy foot," which is as much as to say, "Take heed to thy steps, observe with care thy way, wander not from the path of sincerity, beware of indifference and of obtrusiveness.'
2. Reference. Such as becomes the creature in approaching the Creator in whose hand his breath is, and whose are all his ways; such as becomes the sinner in addressing a holy God, whose Law has been broken, whose favor has to be implored.
3. A spirit of attentive and submissive hearing. "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth," is language becoming to the lowly and reverent worshipper; he shall be made acquainted with God's Law, and he shall rejoice in God's promises. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: Guard your steps when you go to God's house; for to draw near to listen is better than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they don't know that they do evil.