Posts Tagged ‘Ecclesiastes’


Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Ecclesiastes 12:13

Don’t you like it when things are simplified for you?  Don’t you like it when the “cookies are on the bottom shelf?”  I like that.  This verse is a “cookies on the bottom shelf” kind of verse.  It tells us to “fear God and keep his commandments.”  It tells us that doing those things are the “whole duty of man.”  It’s pretty simple.  Just fear God and keep His commandments.

Of course, living with the fear of God is usually a little more difficult than just agreeing with the fact.  And, I can tell  you by personal experience that keeping His commandments isn’t always as easy as it seems.  It takes a conscious effort to fear the Lord and it takes a conscious effort to keep His commandments.  It is an all day, every day thing to fear and obey Him.

Of course, He has promised to help us if we will submit to Him.  One of the positive things about this verse is the fact that taking care of the first thing will help us take care of the second.  If we will get a true fear of God, it will help us to obey Him and keep His commandments as we ought.  Fearing Him will lead to obedience.  And as we obey Him, we will fear Him all the more.

After all of his searching, Solomon came to the simple conclusion that our whole duty and responsibility is to fear God and obey Him.  How are we doing with those two things?

The Words of Truth

The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.

Ecclesiastes 12:10

This verse made me think of several things.  The first phrase tells us that “the preacher sought to find out acceptable words…”  That is what our preachers do.  They study the Bible and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to “find out acceptable words.”  The Lord uses them to deliver His message to us.  He gives them the “acceptable words” that we need to hear on a regular basis.  Knowing this, we should definitely honor them and, more importantly, pay attention to what they are saying.  It is true that that is the job of the preacher, but there is more to this verse.

The verse tells us where the preacher finds “acceptable words:”  he finds them in the Bible.  “That which was written was upright, even the words of truth.”  The Bible is where the preacher gets his “acceptable words” and it is where we can find acceptable words every single day.

It is true that we need to pay attention to our preachers, but we shouldn’t be completely dependent on them for our spiritual food.  Just as you would probably starve to death if you only ate once or twice a week, you will starve spiritually if you only “eat” spiritual food when you are at church.  We hold in our hands the very words of God.  We can read and study them whenever we want.  What an honor and a privilege.

There is no reason that we should not read and study the “Words of truth” on our own.  There is no excuse for us to be ignorant of the “Words of truth.”  Our preachers do a great job, but we have the same Bible that they do.  What are we doing with it?

Not A Just Man On Earth

For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

Ecclesiastes 7:20

Solomon presents a pretty bleak view of humanity here in this verse.  “There is not a just man upon earth” and no person who “doeth good,and sinneth not” are not phrases that are going to win friends and influence people.  This is not a “power of positive thinking” type of verse.  It is a “humankind is vile, wicked and sinful” type of verse.

The New Testament echos this verse’s sentiment: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” -Romans 3:10-12

These are bleak verses containing bleak thoughts.  But there is hope.  Hope is found a few verses later in the same chapter of Romans.  “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested… Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe… To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” -Romans 3:21a, 22a, 26. 

There is nobody on this Earth who is naturally righteous.  There is nobody on this Earth who is “just” in the sight of God on his own merit.  But there are many people who have, by faith, received the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  There are many people who are justified in the sight of God because of the finished work of Jesus Christ.  What a blessing that is and what a hope that gives us.  There is none righteous.  Except Jesus.  And I am His and He is mine! 

This verse in Ecclesiastes does indeed paint a bleak picture of humanity.  What is the difference between the bleak thought at the beginning of this post and the glorious hope at the end?  Only Jesus.  He has the power to make every bitter thing (myself included) sweet.  He is a wonderful Saviour and I want to be closer to Him!

Sloth and Decay

By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.

Ecclesiastes 10:18

Sloth and idleness are things about which the Bible has much to say.  There are many very practical applications in the Bible and we would do well to heed them.  This verse gives us a practical warning about the results of sloth and idleness, or, as we call them now, laziness and boredom. 

I often drive past farm houses that are worn down and falling apart.  It’s obvious that nobody has lived in them for years.  Sometimes when I see a house like that, I wonder what it looked like fifty or even twenty years ago.  At some point, there was probably a family living there.  At some point, that house was the pride and joy of its owner.  Lives were lived and memories were made there.  But at some point, whoever lived there stopped taking care of the place.  Maybe it wasn’t intentional.  Maybe the people moved away and had no one to take care of it.  Maybe the owner just grew too old to take care of it.  There are a thousand different possibilities, but the fact that the house is abandoned and falling apart remains.

It is the same in our lives.  When we don’t work on our lives, our “building” starts to decay.  When we don’t work on our relationship with the Lord, that “house” starts to fall apart. 

Also notice that the building decays by “much” slothfulness.  Our Christian lives don’t fall apart when we neglect one thing one time just as the house didn’t fall apart because the owner didn’t immediately fix a leaky faucet.  But every time we neglect something in our Christian lives, we are one step closer to “falling apart.”  We need to do our best to stay on top of things.  We need to make sure that we immediately “fix” any problems that come between us and the Lord.  And, in doing so, we will not fall into the category of “slothful” and our building will not start to decay.

Take No Heed

Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee.

Ecclesiastes 7:21

There is a good quote that I heard a while ago that says something like “believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.”  I think that is one of the ideas put forth in this verse.

Just imagine how much better our lives would be if we would just “take no heed unto all words that are spoken.”  Just think how much easier and more peaceful our lives would be if we would put that truth into practice.  How often are we harmed, hurt, offended, discouraged and depressed by things that we hear?  Imagine a life in which none of those things effected us.  What a nice, peaceful life that would be.

There are many things that we don’t need to hear.  There are many things that it would be better if we didn’t hear.  In this verse, the reason given for not taking heed to the words of others is that you might hear your servant curse you.  Now, that would seem at first to be a good thing, but the next verse sheds some light on the situation:

“For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.”  Sometimes when we hear others say negative things, we tend to look down our noses at them.  We might allow ourselves to swell up a little with pride.  In truth, we have all probably said something at some point that is as bad, if not worse, than what we just heard another say.

Sometimes we can’t help what enters our ears, but we can help what we “listen” to.  We need to be careful not to allow foolish things to enter our minds and we need to be careful who we are listening to and what their message is.

Loving Silver

He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this also is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 5:10

I don’t have a lot of money, but I do have a little silver.  I like to collect coins and some of the coins I’ve collected are silver ones.  I would love to buy dozens of silver coins because I think they are a good investment and because I just like them.  Now, I would say that “I love silver.”  But I love silver in the sense that I enjoy collecting coins made out of silver as a hobby.  My small collection of silver coins is in no way my “reason for existence.”  In fact, it’s really not even worth much.  I just like it.

But there are many who put their trust and love in “silver”, or gold, or money.  There are many who live for the love of money, which the Bible describes as the root of all evil.  There are many who spend their lives to earn and hoard money, which will profit them nothing when they meet the Lord. 

This verse tells us that “he that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver.”  It’s true.  Have you ever met anyone who loves silver or gold or money and says that they “have enough?”  In fact, a coin collecting website I visit had a poll a while  back that asked “how much is enough?”  The most popular answer?  “A little bit more than I have.”

The end of the verse tells us that the person who loves abundance will not be satisfied with increase.  Some people live for their investments or their “stuff.”  No matter how much they accumulate, it is never enough.  No matter how much the market goes up, they are never satisfied.  As the verse says, “this also is vanity.”

There is something that satisfies.  Jesus Christ.  He is the only one who can truly satisfy us.

Better: A Paradox

It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.

Ecclesiastes 7:5

The Bible is full of seeming paradoxes and this is one of them.  Worldly wisdom would dictate that it is always better to hear singing and mirth than it is to hear a rebuke.  Singing is usually a mark of happiness and rebuke is never pleasant.  Why would rebuke ever be better than song?

It is not just any rebuke that is better than any song, it is the rebuke of the wise that is better than the song of fools.  As I look around, sometimes I see worldly people having fun and singing and “enjoying life.”  And, sometimes my flesh gets envious of that carefree attitude.  I’m in a daily battle with my flesh and people who don’t even know the Lord are singing their lives away.  But then I have to realize that their singing will not last for eternity, as my song will.  Theirs is the “song of fools.” 

Really, all the fun and folly in the world isn’t going to help anyone at all in the end.  But when you hear and heed the rebuke of a wise man, that will benefit you in the end.  Hearing the rebuke of the wise is better than hearing the song of fools because the rebuke of the wise has eternal value, whereas the song of fools lasts but for a moment.  It’s never easy to listen to rebuke and it’s never easy to accept rebuke.  But we need to remember when we find ourselves being corrected that it will benefit us for all eternity!

Sweet Sleep

The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

Ecclesiastes 5:12

The Bible is obviously full of deep spiritual truth.  It is full of earth shattering, life altering truth.  It is full of all kinds of truth.  But sometimes overlooked is the simple, practical truth that the Bible is also full of.  This verse contains one of those truths.

“The sleep of a labouring man is sweet.”  Yes it is.  I’ve read several articles over the last few years on sleep and getting a good night’s sleep.  One of the things that is recommended for getting to sleep is being active during the day.  Some people work hard; some people exercise.  But when you work hard, it feels good when your head hits the pillow.  When you “labour” during the day, your sleep is always sweeter.  By contrast, when I sleep in and laze around all day, I find that I have a harder time getting to sleep at night.  The sleep of  a labouring man IS sweet.

The second half of the verse tells us that “the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.”  When you are rich, you are going to spend more time worrying about your riches.  Your possessions begin to own you instead of the other way around.

The Bible is true in everything about which it speaks.  The deep doctrines are true.  But when the Bible speaks of seemingly menial, everyday things like sleeping, it is also true.  The labouring man’s sleep is sweet, while the rich man’s sleep is often restless.  The Bible does tell us that “whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”  Whatever your “labour” is, do with all your might and enjoy the sweet sleep of the labouring man (or woman).

Dreams and Words

For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.

Ecclesiastes 5:3

When we think of dreams and “dreamers”, we usually think of a person sitting around thinking about things.  We might think of a daydreamer.  We might think of some people sitting around a table talking out a great idea for something.  But this verse tells a different story.

This verse tells us that “a dream cometh through the multitude of business.”  How do we get a dream?  We get to work.  As we work and do the things that we are supposed to do, the Lord gives us more to do.  He gives us the dream and He gives us the strength to see that dream to fruition.

On the other hand, it is a “fool’s voice” that is know by a “multitude of words.”  When we just sit around talking about what we should be doing, we are not going to be given that dream.  We can dream about all the earthly things we want, but the Lord is not going to put a great dream of doing something for Him in our hearts if we aren’t busy working and doing the things He has already commanded us to do.

If we really want the Lord to have us do something for Him, we can’t sit around and wish it were so.  We need to start doing the things that we know He has given us to do.  Dreams come through work, not words!

Going to God’s House

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.

Ecclesiastes 5:1

This verse deals with “going to God’s house.”  I was raised in the home of a pastor and, as such, going to church was always a big deal.  Obviously there was never any question as to whether or not we were going.  And, while in church, I always had to at least somewhat behave because no matter where I sat, Dad could see me.  I developed the habit of going to church.  That is a good habit to develop, but just going to church is not good enough.  Going to church in itself isn’t going to do anything for you.  You have got to get something out of it.  And this verse gives us some good advice on preparing ourselves for going to church.

We are told to “keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God.”  God’s house is a holy place.  We don’t go there to play.  We don’t go there to work.  We don’t go there out of a sense of duty.  We go there to meet with God.  We need to bring that attitude to church with us- we are coming to meet God.  I once heard a man say that when we are getting ready to go to church, we are not just doing any old thing.  We are going to meet the King.

We are also told to “be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools.”  I think that the sacrifice of fools is just showing up to “keep up appearances” or “out of habit” or flippantly.  When we go to church, we need to be ready to hear and receive whatever it is that the Lord has for us.  If we don’t go with open ears and open hearts, we are basically wasting our time.

When we go to the house of God, let us prepare ourselves to receive all that He has for us.