Many Words are Vanity
Ecclesiastes 5 begins with these words - "Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes through much activity, and a fool's voice is known by his many words. When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed--better not to vow than to vow and not pay. Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God" (5:1-7).

Solomon explains how to approach God in worship - "draw near to hear". When one worships the Almighty, he must especially be "swift to hear" and "slow to speak" (James 1:19). What does Solomon mean when he refers to "the sacrifice of fools"? Contextually, the answer would have to be the babbling of their mouths, which is an offering of vain worship!

The wise king exhorts us to remember our proper position before God. When it comes to prayer, do not be hasty in speech. God wants us to give serious thought to what we are going to say. God is great in heaven and we are weak on Earth. This is why Solomon recommends that we speak little and listen much. Many words and hasty ones, used in prayer, show folly in the heart, little respect for God, and carelessness regarding our own souls.

According to 5:3, fools can be recognized by their many words. As dreams are vain, so are the words of a fool.

5:4,5 makes it very clear that God expects us to be people of our word (cf. Matt. 5:37)! One might be inclined to think that God would be pleased when a vow is made, even if it is never kept. Such is not the case!

It is not just an unfortunate mistake or an insignificant matter when one makes a false vow--it is a sin! God would rather one suffer and keep his word than change his vow (cf. Psa. 15:4).

Dear listeners, three thousand years ago the key to life was genuinely fearing God and obeying Him, not offering a multitude of words or dreams. Such is still true today. Let us never forget what Jesus said on this subject in Matthew 12:36,37 - "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Friends, do not consider your speech lightly--especially the words you direct specifically to the Lord God!

We will continue this series of lessons tomorrow.