1. From vanity connected with kings, he passes
to vanities (Ec 5:7) which
may be fallen into in serving the King of kings, even by those who,
convinced of the vanity of the creature, wish to worship the
Keep thy foot—In going to worship, go
with considerate, circumspect, reverent feeling. The allusion is to the
taking off the shoes, or sandals, in entering a temple (Ex 3:5; Jos
5:15, which passages perhaps
gave rise to the custom). Weiss
needlessly reads, "Keep thy feast days" (Ex 23:14, 17; the three great feasts).
hear—rather, "To be ready (to draw
nigh with the desire) to hear (obey) is a better sacrifice than the
offering of fools" [Holden].
(Vulgate; Syriac). (Ps 51:16,
17; Pr 21:3; Jer 6:20; 7:21-23; 14:12; Am 5:21-24). The warning is against mere ceremonial
self-righteousness, as in Ec 7:12.
Obedience is the spirit of the law's requirements (De 10:12). Solomon sorrowfully looks back on his
own neglect of this (compare 1Ki 8:63 with Ec 11:4, 6). Positive precepts of God
must be kept, but will not stand instead of obedience to His
moral precepts. The last provided no sacrifice for wilful
sin (Nu 15:30, 31; Heb 10:26-29).
2. rash—opposed to the considerate
reverence ("keep thy foot," Ec 5:1). This verse illustrates Ec 5:1, as to prayer in the house of God
("before God," Isa 1:12); so
5:4-6 as to vows. The
remedy to such vanities is stated (Ec 5:6). "Fear thou God."
God is in heaven—Therefore He ought to
be approached with carefully weighed words, by thee, a frail creature
3. As much "business," engrossing the mind,
gives birth to incoherent "dreams," so many words, uttered
inconsiderately in prayer, give birth to and betray "a fool's speech"
10:14), [Holden and Weiss].
5:7 implies that the "dream"
is not a comparison, but the vain thoughts of the fool (sinner,
73:20), arising from
multiplicity of (worldly) "business." His "dream" is that God hears him
for his much speaking (Mt 6:7),
independently of the frame of mind [English Version and Maurer].
fool's voice—answers to "dream" in the
parallel; it comes by the many "words" flowing from the fool's
4. When thou vowest a vow unto God—Hasty
words in prayer (Ec 5:2, 3)
suggest the subject of hasty vows. A vow should not be hastily
made (Jud 11:35; 1Sa 14:24). When made, it must be kept (Ps 76:11), even as God keeps His word to us
(Ex 12:41, 51; Jos 21:45).
5. (De 23:21, 23).
6. thy flesh—Vow not with "thy mouth" a
vow (for example, fasting), which the lusts of the flesh ("body," Ec 2:3, Margin) may tempt thee to break
angel—the "messenger" of God (Job 33:23); minister (Re 1:20); that is, the priest (Mal 2:7) "before" whom a breach of a vow was to
be confessed (Le 5:4, 5).
We, Christians, in our vows (for example, at baptism, the Lord's
Supper, &c.) vow in the presence of Jesus Christ, "the angel of the
covenant" (Mal 3:1), and
of ministering angels as witnesses (1Co 11:10; 1Ti 5:21). Extenuate not any breach of them as a
7. (See on Ec 5:3). God's
service, which ought to be our chief good, becomes by "dreams" (foolish
fancies as of God's requirements of us in worship), and random "words,"
positive "vanity." The remedy is, whatever fools may do, "Fear
thou God" (Ec 12:13).
8. As in Ec 3:16, so here the difficulty suggests itself.
If God is so exact in even punishing hasty words (Ec 5:1-6), why does He allow gross injustice? In
the remote "provinces," the "poor" often had to put themselves for
protection from the inroads of Philistines, &c., under chieftains,
who oppressed them even in Solomon's reign (1Ki 12:4).
the matter—literally, "the pleasure,"
or purpose (Isa 53:10).
Marvel not at this dispensation of God's will, as if He had
abandoned the world. Nay, there is coming a capital judgment at last,
and an earnest of it in partial punishments of sinners meanwhile.
higher than the highest—(Da 7:18).
there be higher—plural, that
is, the three persons of the Godhead, or else, "regardeth not only the
'highest' kings, than whom He 'is higher,' but even the petty tyrants
of the provinces, namely, the high ones who are above them" (the poor)
9. "The profit (produce) of the earth is
(ordained) for (the common good of) all: even the king himself is
served by (the fruits of) the field" (2Ch 26:10). Therefore the common Lord of all, high
and low, will punish at last those who rob the "poor" of their share in
it (Pr 22:22, 23; Am 8:4-7).
10. Not only will God punish at last, but
meanwhile the oppressive gainers of "silver" find no solid
"satisfaction" in it.
shall not be satisfied—so the
oppressor "eateth his own flesh" (see on Ec 4:1
and Ec 4:5).
with increase—is not satisfied with
the gain that he makes.
11. they … that eat them—the rich
man's dependents (Ps 23:5).
12. Another argument against anxiety to gain
riches. "Sleep … sweet" answers to "quietness" (Ec 4:6); "not suffer … sleep," to
"vexation of spirit." Fears for his wealth, and an overloaded stomach
without "laboring" (compare Ec 4:5), will
not suffer the rich oppressor to sleep.
13, 14. Proofs of God's judgments even in this
11:31). The rich oppressor's
wealth provokes enemies, robbers, &c. Then, after having kept it
for an expected son, he loses it beforehand by misfortune ("by evil
travail"), and the son is born to be heir of poverty. Ec 2:19, 23 gives another aspect of the same
16. Even supposing that he loses not his
wealth before death, then at least he must go stripped of it all
laboured for the wind—(Ho 12:1; 1Co
17. eateth—appropriately put for
"liveth" in general, as connected with Ec 5:11, 12, 18.
darkness—opposed to "light (joy) of
countenance" (Ec 8:1; Pr 16:15).
wrath—fretfulness, literally, "His
sorrow is much, and his infirmity (of body) and wrath."
18. Returns to the sentiment (Ec 3:12, 13,
22); translate: "Behold the
good which I have seen, and which is becoming" (in a man).
which God giveth—namely, both the good
of his labor and his life.
his portion—legitimately. It is God's
gift that makes it so when regarded as such. Such a one will use, not
abuse, earthly things (1Co 7:31).
Opposed to the anxious life of the covetous (Ec 5:10, 17).
19. As Ec 5:18 refers to the "laboring" man (Ec 5:12), so Ec 5:19 to the "rich" man, who gets wealth not
by "oppression" (Ec 5:8), but
by "God's gift." He is distinguished also from the "rich" man (Ec 6:2) in having received by God's gift not
only "wealth," but also "power to eat thereof," which that one has
to take his portion—limits him to the
lawful use of wealth, not keeping back from God His portion
while enjoying his own.
20. He will not remember much, looking back
with disappointment, as the ungodly do (Ec 2:11), on the days of his life.
answereth … in the joy—God
answers his prayers in giving him "power" to enjoy his
blessings. Gesenius and Vulgate
translate, "For God (so) occupies him with joy," &c., that he
thinks not much of the shortness and sorrows of life. Holden, "Though God gives not much (as to real
enjoyment), yet he remembers (with thankfulness) the days; for (he
knows) God exercises him by the joy," &c. (tries him by
prosperity), so Margin, but English Version is