1 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.
2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.
3 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.
This is a good teaching about how to pray. Many people are very foolish when they pray. They try to convince God that they deserve his help and support. They tell God how much better than other people they consider themselves (Luke 18:11-12). “11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”
They think that they can impress God by a long prayer (Mark 12:40)
“40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.”
or an expensive gift (Micah 6:6-8). “6 Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
When people recognize their true state in front of God, they are humble. They know that they do not deserve any kindness from him. They confess that they are guilty of many wrong things against God’s law. They ask God for help because of his great kindness, not because of anything that they have done (Luke 18:13-14) “13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
The Bible often warns people about proud attitudes. And that is especially important when people pray. They should remember how great God is. They should respect him as they pray. They should listen to his word, and they should obey him always!
In prayer, it is just as important to have the right attitudes as to saying the right words. God already knows what we will ask. And he knows what we really need (Matthew 6:8) “8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”
In prayer, it is more important to trust God than to pray a long prayer (Mark 11:23-24) “23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
There is the answer to one of the biggest questions I’m asked about praying in verse 24. People often pray long prayers for the wrong reasons (Matthew 6:7); “7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”
(Mark 12:40). “40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.”
But sometimes it is right to pray for a long time, for example, (Mark 1:35) “35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”
and (Acts 1:14) “14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”
Many people who have a close relationship with God pray constantly (Luke 18:1); “1And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;”
(1 Thessalonians 5:17) “17 Pray without ceasing.”
And their prayers please God.
4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.
5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.
6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?
7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.
Some people try to control or manipulate God. They promise to give a generous gift to him if he helps them. Really, they are offering to pay for his help after the help is given. They are behaving in the same way as people behave towards a false god. People want to deal telling God they’ll believe in Him, If He does something for them first to prove God is real. If God agreed with that, it would show Him to be very weak and stupid. Never think God is weak or stupid, or try to make Him less then He is, (God’s Attributes) are, He is Eternal, Unchanging, Holy, True, Good, Kind, He is Glorious, Righteous, Sovereign, Loving, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Ever-Present, Long-suffering. God the One who made everything and everyone, past present and future. He keeps things running on this planet and everywhere else. He has the power of life and death, and where we are all going to wind up some day. Does that sound like weak or stupid to you?
On the other hand other people promise gifts to God for right and proper reasons. For them, their gifts are an expression of their thanks and love to God.
In Israel, people gave their gifts to God at his house, called the temple. Most people lived a long way from the temple; they could not go there often. So when they wanted to give a gift, they made a promise. And when they next went to Jerusalem, they handed over their gifts to the priests there.
Promises matter to God, and He does remember. And that is especially true when people promise to make gifts to God. As soon as a person promises to give something, God accepts that gift. So the gift already belongs to God, and the giver has a duty to hand it over (Leviticus 27:9-10) “9 And if it be a beast, whereof men bring an offering unto the Lord, all that any man giveth of such unto the Lord shall be holy.
10 He shall not alter it, nor change it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good: and if he shall at all change beast for beast, then it and the exchange thereof shall be holy.”
Jesus was probably thinking about (Ecclesiastes 5:5) “5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”
when he spoke the words in (Matthew 5:33-34) “33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:”
Jesus warned people about their promises to God. It is better not to make a promise than to make a promise that you do not carry out.The problem is that people do not think properly about their duties to God. We owe our whole lives to God, and not just our gifts. People try to satisfy or bribe God with a promise when they will not allow Him to rule their lives. God does not just want our gifts. He wants us to obey Him completely. Obeying God is also the best for us as well, for He ultimately wants the best for us in the end, because He really loves us.
8 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.
9 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.
There are two types of workers:
(1) Some people must use their physical strength to work. They are often poor, and, of course, they must work hard. They include farm workers. By their efforts, they provide the food that everyone needs.
(2) The other group of people are those people who organize the work. In any society, their work is essential, too. Without good leaders, people struggle even to provide the food for their own families. Someone needs to deal with the difficulties that would stop the work.
In this second group are government officials, judges and even the king. If they are wise and careful, then wealth may come to the whole country. And everyone can benefit from that wealth.
But officials and rulers often use their opportunity to make or take wealth in a wrong manner. For example, they may force poor people to work too hard. They may pay wages that are too low. Or they may make decisions and judgements that are not right and proper. Some may even steal outright from people to gain wealth.
They do such things because they want only to benefit themselves, and not other people.
God cares about all people, but he especially cares about poor and helpless people. He has made some people powerful so that they can look after poorer and weaker people. But when wealthy people use poor people for their own advantage, God is angry. Those cruel people will not avoid their punishment.
10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he
that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?
12 The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.
A person who loves money can never get enough money to satisfy his desire. He will always want more money than he actually obtains. That is why the love of money causes people to do all kinds of evil acts (1 Timothy 6:10)
“10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
In the end, it controls people like a god (Matthew 6:24) “24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
However, a person who desires possessions may be able to obtain those things. But he should not imagine that he will benefit from those possessions. Other people want those things, too. And they will use every effort to obtain those things from him. He loves his wealth, but those other people would love to have it, too.
So the person who loves wealth is never content. And his wealth is never safe. If he sleeps by night, he cannot protect it. But even when he is awake, people are constantly trying to take it from him. He should not imagine that more wealth would give him a better life. In fact, the increase of his wealth only causes him to worry more.
All that person’s luxury cannot give him a good night’s sleep. But a poor person can often sleep well, even if he is hungry. He may own nothing, but, by night, he is comfortable. His life is much more pleasant than the life of someone who loves money or possessions.
It is wrong to love money or possessions. We should show our love to Godwith everything that we have, including our wealth and possessions (Mark 12:28-34) “28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:
33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.”
And when we love God, he protects us (Psalm 121) “1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”
A good night’s sleep is God’s gift, which no amount of money can provide (Psalm 127:2) “2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.”
13 There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.
14 But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand.
15 As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labor, which he may carry away in his hand.
16 And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath labored for the wind?
17 All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness.
A person can work for his whole life but gain nothing that last. That is a very sad fact, but it is not unusual.
In fact, we could say that it happens to everyone. There is nothing in this world that we can take with us at death. We must leave behind everything that we earned in this world. Even as we were born without possessions, we must die without our possessions. Money, wealth and possessions are things that belong only in this world. So in both heaven and hell, they have no value. In fact, even in this world, money, wealth and possessions sometimes lose their value. A man may work hard for his whole life to provide for his son. That man may save his money very carefully. But his son may still receive nothing. That, too, often happens. Jesus spoke about this matter in (Matthew 6:19-21) “19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
He said that people must not merely think about the value of things in this world. Many things destroy the possessions that people have in this world. And there are thieves who steal our possessions. So we should realize that our wealth in this world cannot last. It matters much more whether something is valuable in heaven. That is, whether God considers it valuable. So, nothing is more valuable to a person than that person’s relationship with God, see (Matthew 13:44-46). “44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”
Nothing can destroy the things that are valuable in heaven. And they never lose their value.
18 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.
19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.
20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.
Usually, a poor person must work very hard. His work is difficult and unpleasant. He does not earn enough money so he does not get enough food.
However, sometimes God shows special kindness to that poor person. So, that person enjoys his work. And he has enough to eat and to drink. He should be very grateful to God for his kindness; many people do not have these things.
The wealth of a rich person does not really give him a better life than the poor person has. Of course, the rich person has both money and food. But often rich people suffer because of wrong desires or jealous attitudes (Ecclesiastes 4:4); “4 Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.”
(Ecclesiastes 5:10) “10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.”
Their wealth does not satisfy them. They believe that they need even more money.
But sometimes, God shows special kindness to a rich person. The result is that the person can enjoy his wealth. He is content with the wealth that God has provided for him. So that person does not waste his energy in an effort to become richer. That is God’s kindness, and that person should be very grateful.
But people often show a wrong reaction to God’s kindness. They should be grateful for the joy that God has put into their hearts. But often, they just feel pleased about the things that they have in this world. They allow the things that are in this world to satisfy them. They forget that soon they must leave this world. They neglect the fact that God will be their judge (Ecclesiastes 3:17)
“17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.”
So their present happiness benefits them only during their short lives in this world.
I will be posting the 12 chapters of the Book of Ecclesiastes one chapter at a time on my blog. Look on the blog for new postings of new chapters as I post them. I am using bold text for the Word of God from the King James Version Bible as it is written. I will use italicfor my commentary below the chapters and verses from the book of Ecclesiastes, This commentary is how I help people understand what is written in the Bible.
All glory to God
His humble servant Lee M Buchanan