Ecclesiastes 5


The reverence to be observed in attending Divine worship, 1-3.

We should be faithfu1 to over engagements, 4-7.

The oppression of the innocent, 8.

The king dependent on the produce of the soil, 9.

Against covetousness, 10, 11.

The peace of the honest labourer, 12.

The evil effect of riches, 13, 14.

Man cannot carry his property to the grave, 15-17.

We should thankfully enjoy the blessings of God, 18-20.


Verse 1. Keep thy foot] This verse the Hebrew and all the

versions join to the preceding chapter.

Solomon, having before intimated, though very briefly, that the

only cure against human vanity is a due sense of religion, now

enters more largely on this important subject, and gives some

excellent directions with regard to the right performance of

Divine service, the nature of vocal and mental prayer, the danger

of rash vows, &c.-C.

The whole verse might be more literally translated thus:-

"Guard thy steps as thou art going to the house of God; and

approach to hearken, and not to give the sacrifice of fools, for

none of them have knowledge about doing evil." "They offer gifts

for their sins, and do not turn from their evil works; for they

know not (they distinguish not) between good and evil." See the


Verse 2. Be not rash with thy mouth] Do not hasten with thy

mouth; weigh thy words, feel deeply, think much, speak little.

"When ye approach his altar, on your lips

Set strictest guard; and let your thoughts be pure,

Fervent, and recollected. Thus prepared,

Send up the silent breathings of your souls,

Submissive to his will." C.

Verse 3. For a dream cometh] That is, as dreams are generally the

effect of the business in which we have been engaged during the

day; so a multitude of words evidence the feeble workings of the

foolish heart.

Verse 4. When thou vowest a vow] When in distress and

difficulty, men are apt to promise much to God if he will relieve

them; but generally forget the vow when the distress or trouble is

gone by.

Verse 5. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, &c.] We are

under constant obligations to live to God; no vow can make it more

so. Yet, there may be cases in which we should bind ourselves to

take up some particular cross, to perform some particular duty, to

forego some particular attachment that does not tend to bring our

souls nearer to God. Then, if fully determined, and strong in

faith relative to the point, bind and hold fast; but if not fully,

rationally, and conscientiously determined, "do not suffer thy

mouth to cause thy soul to sin."

Verse 6. Neither say thou before the angel, that it was an

error] Nor think of saying "before the cruel angel, who shall

exercise authority over thee in the judgment of the great day,

that thou didst it through ignorance."-Chaldee. I believe by the

angel nothing else is intended than the priest, whose business

it was to take cognizance of vows and offerings. See Le 5:4, 5.

In Mal 2:7, the priest is called the "angel of the Lord of


Verse 7. In-dreams-are-divers vanities; but fear thou God.] If,

by the disturbed state of thy mind during the day, or by Satanic

influence, thou dream of evil, do not give way to any unreasonable

fears, or gloomy forebodings, of any coming mischief:-FEAR GOD.

Fear neither the dream nor its interpretation; God, will take care

of and protect thee. Most certainly, he that fears God need fear

nothing else. Well may an upright soul say to Satan himself, I

fear God; and because I fear him, l do not fear thee.

Verse 8. If thou seest the oppression of the poor] For this was

a frequent case under all governments; and especially in the

provinces or colonies which being far from the seat of

government, were generally oppressed by the sovereign's deputies.

Marvel not at the matter] hachephets, the will, i.e.,

of God; which permits such evils to take place; for all things

shall work together for good to them that love him.

"Marvel not,

Ye righteous, if his dispensations here

Unequal seem. What, though disorders reign?

He still presides, and with unerring hand

Directs the vast machine. His wisdom can

From discord harmony produce; and make

Even vice itself subservient to his ends."

Verse 9. The profit of the earth is for all] The earth, if

properly cultivated, is capable of producing food for every living

creature; and without cultivation none has a right to expect


The king himself is served by the field.] Without the field he

cannot have supplies for his own house; and, unless agriculture

flourish, the necessary expenses of the state cannot be defrayed.

Thus, God joins the head and feet together; for while the peasant

is protected by the king as executor of the laws, the king himself

is dependent on the peasant; as the wealth of the nation is the

fruit of the labourer's toil.

Verse 10. He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with

silver] The more he gets, the more he would get; for the saying is


Crescit amor nummi, quantum ipsa pecunia crescit.

"The love of money increases, in proportion as money itself


Verse 11. When goods increase] An increase of property always

brings an increase of expense, by a multitude of servants; and the

owner really possesses no more, and probably enjoys much less,

than he did, when every day provided its own bread, and could lay

up no store for the next. But if he have more enjoyment, his cares

are multiplied; and he has no kind of profit. "This also is


Verse 12. The sleep of a labouring man is sweet] His labour is

healthy exercise. He is without possessions, and without cares;

his sleep, being undisturbed, is sound and refreshing.

Verse 13. Riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.]

This may be the case through various causes: 1. He may make an

improper use of them, and lose his health by them. 2. He may join

in an unfortunate partnership and lose all. 3. His riches may

excite the desire of the robber; and he may spoil him of his

goods, and even take away his life. 4. Or, he may leave them to

his son, who turns profligate, spends the whole, and ruins both

his body and soul. I have seen this again and again.

Verse 14. And he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his

hand.] He has been stripped of his property by unfortunate trade

or by plunderers; and he has nothing to leave to his children.

Verse 15. As he came forth] However it may be, he himself shall

carry nothing with him into the eternal world. If he die worth

millions, those millions are dead to him for ever; so he has had

no real profit from all his labours, cares, anxieties, and vast


Verse 17. All his days also he eateth in darkness] Even his

enjoyments are embittered by uncertainty. He fears for his goods;

the possibility of being deprived of them fills his heart with

anguish. But instead of yochel, "he shall eat,"

yelech, "he shall walk," is the reading of several MSS. He walks

in darkness-he has no evidence of salvation. There is no ray of

light from God to penetrate the gloom; and all beyond life is

darkness impenetrable!

And wrath with his sickness.] His last hours are awful; for,

"Counting on long years of pleasure here,

He's quite unfurnish'd for the world to come."


He is full of anguish at the thought of death; but the fear of it

is horrible. But if he have a sense of God's wrath in his guilty

conscience, what horror can be compared with his horror!

Verse 18. Behold that which I have seen] This is the result of

my observations and experience. God gives every man, in the course

of his providence, the necessaries of life; and it is his will

that he should thankfully use them.

For it is his portion.] What is requisite for him in the lower

world; without them his life cannot subsist, and earthly blessings

are as truly the portion of his body and animal life, as the

salvation of God is the portion of his soul.

Verse 20. For he shall not much remember] The person who acts in

this way, extracts all the good requisite from life. He passes

through things temporal so as not to lose those that are eternal:-

"Calm and serene, the road of life to him,

Or long or short, rugged or smooth, with thorns

O'erspread, or gay with flowers, is but a road.

Such fare as offers grateful he accepts,

And smiling to his native home proceeds."


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