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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Ecclesiastes

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FRAMEWORKS: Ecclesiastes 5


(The objective of these ‘Frameworks' is to provide an easy-to-read layout of the text in order then to use these individual verses for meditation. To achieve this we have used a variety of means, notes, headings, verse summaries.)



FRAMEWORKS: Ecclesiastes 5: Vows before God & Struggles for wealth


[Preliminary Comments: Verses 1 to 7 are quite coherent in that they are all warning about carelessly making vows before God: not being hasty, fulfilling it, not being rash. Part 2 is quite different and is the start of a varied and mostly unstructured flow of reflections on life: injustice [v.8,9], ever wanting more [v.10,11], peace or worries in work [v.12], hoarding and losing your wealth [v.13,14], realising you can't take it with you when you die [v.15-17] so that contentment is a wise goal [v.18-20]. A summary? Perhaps worrying & striving for wealth is a fruitless goal!]



PART 1: v.1-7: Against rash vows before God


v.1,2 Be careful what you say before God

v.1  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. 

v.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. 


v.3,4 Too many words often spell sin, so beware what you vow to God

v.3  A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool. 

v.4   When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfil it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfil your vow. 


v.5-7 It's better not to vow than make a rash one

v.5   It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfil it. 

v.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? 

v.7  Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God. 


PART 2: v.8-20: Struggles of the fallen world


v.8,9 Injustice is often found in hierarchies

v.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.

v.9  The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields. 


v.10,11 if you love money or possessions you'll never have enough

v.10  Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. 

v.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? 


v.12 Honest work brings honest sleep, but the rich worry and can't sleep

v.12  The sleep of a labourer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep. 


v.13,14 Wealth can be hoarded and lost to the detriment of the next generation

v.13  I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners, 

v.14  or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when they have children there is nothing left for them to inherit. 


v.15-17 We come with nothing & leave with nothing & in between work can be stressful

v.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. 

v.16   This too is a grievous evil: As everyone comes, so they depart, and what do they gain, since they toil for the wind? 

v.17   All their days they eat in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger. 


v.18-20 Contentment with your lot is a gift and takes about worry about fulfilment

v.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 labour under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 

v.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. 

v.20   They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.



Continue to Ecclesiastes 6