We begin this week with a fairly long portion of Scripture: Eccl 5:8-20
v8: This verse speaks about getting involved in the situations of others – we are our brother’s keeper (Gen 4:9). When we only think about ourselves our outlook is going to be selfish. When we think about other people our outlook is going to be G-dly, as this expresses the character of G-d – loving our neighbour as we love ourselves.
- Oppression of the poor: The poor are those who lack resources or ability. If we see them being taken advantage of, and they are not able to withstand the oppression, we need to get involved.
- Violent perversion of justice and righteousness: If we see justice (judgment) and righteousness being violently twisted to suit an oppressor we need to get involved.
- Do not marvel at the matter: Don’t be amazed at this or act shocked like it doesn’t go on. It is a frequent happening.
- High officials watches over high officials, and higher officials over them: We need to get to the root of the problem and be G-d’s executor of justice (Zech 7:9-10). There is a chain of oppression even in these ranks. High officials oppress those lower down in the ranks and so it goes all the way down the ranks. As we begin to act and speak up for justice G-d will empower us and give us the right words to say. We need to be people who get involved. This needs to be a part of the foundation in our lives, and not the futility and powerlessness of this world. In the millennial kingdom G-d is going to place us into the role of judging this world (Rev 20:4-6, 1 Cor 6:2-3). As believers we live in a measure of the Kingdom life now (while we are still alive). This is what faith and maturity are all about. G-d is moving His people to take a stand, to be salt and light in this world.
v9: G-d has put a condition into this world whereby there is fruitfulness. The food produced in this world is for all people. What G-d has provided He has provided for ALL. Solomon has just spoken about justice but what he wants us to realize is that we’re all dependent, physically, upon the things of this world – even the king is served by the field. G-d wants us to be a distributor of His provision. As G-d has blessed us so we need to be a blessing to others. So often the church has shirked this responsibility, and as a result it has fallen into the hands of government who have taken this responsibility seriously – often with terrible consequences (people begin to rely on the government rather than on G-d).
v10: Loves silver: Those who love money will never have enough of it. Money or abundance (having great surplus) doesn’t bring about contentment (eg: movie stars etc).
v11: Goods increase: It is talking about the increase of possessions from a material perspective.
- They increase who eat them: Great abundance is quickly devoured (Matt 6:19-21). The more we have the more we seem to “need”.
- What profit have the owners: Solomon is constantly hinting at the real meaning or real satisfaction in life – it is not found in wealth or possessions.
v12: The sleep of a labouring man is sweet: There is a satisfaction in being given rest after working hard.
- Whether he eats little or much: If we produce little (financially) or we produce a lot the satisfaction is found in the work. Hard work is accompanied by a sense of accomplishment/achievement.
- The abundance…will not permit him to sleep: Our sleep will not be satisfying to us if we are the ones who are giving the orders and others do the hard work. There is no sense of achievement in giving orders and not “dirtying our hands” to work at what humanity needs.
v13: Severe evil: Sick evilness. Solomon is talking about something which is not healthy.
- Riches: Abundance. Having more than is needed and holding on to that excess at all cost.
- To his hurt: The consequence for holding on to our excesses is not pleasing and leads to a wrong outcome – it’s to our detriment. Abundance has been given to us as a means to bless or invest in the lives of others spiritually – to help them be turned into useful vessels of G-d.
v14: Riches perish: Because this man is not living according to the principles and will of G-d he ultimately loses his wealth.
- Begets a son there is nothing in his hand: (a wise man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children – Prov 13:22) A wise man always has something to give to the next generation. Solomon is saying that these people do not think about the future. They’re always thinking about their generation, their life (the short term), so, like a poor steward, they prepare nothing for future generations. The book of Proverbs teaches us that we should want to influence and build up the future generations.
v15: We enter this world with nothing, and we leave this world with nothing. Why would we not want to invest in the future generation since we cannot take anything with us anyway? Perhaps Solomon is wanting us to think that maybe the reason we are on earth is not for ourselves but in order to live life in such a way that it makes an impact on the next generation – in the same way: we don’t live according to this kingdom, but according to the Kingdom that we cannot yet see (we live with the future in mind, we store up treasures for that future). There’s a connection between the next generation and being Kingdom minded.
v16: Severe evil: Sick evil (Eccl 5:13). Having a wrong mindset (not thinking about the next generation) is an affliction, spiritually, to a person. When he leaves this world all his labour would have been for nought. He would leave behind nothing of substance – which is like a grasping for the wind. We need to invest in that which has eternal consequences. Only G-d is eternal. If our lives are not in some way connected to Him, submitted to His will, then all is going to be vanity.
v17: Eats: Partakes of what he has accomplished.
- In darkness: A lack of understanding. He doesn’t see the opportunities that he has to have eternal outcome because he’s in darkness.
- Sorrow…sickness (out of order) …anger: A lack of understanding leads to these consequences – when we don’t order our lives properly in regard to what G-d would have us to do, the outcome is that we’re going to be angry, irritable people. Also, when we do not walk in obedience it has the potential to affect our health.
v18: In this verse Solomon reveals what is good and appropriate. Our lives on earth are limited. If we are going to eat and drink (nourish ourselves) we need to work.
- Heritage: Portion. Our lot (Ps 16:5-6)
v19: We need to enjoy what G-d has given to us. We need to pursue the things that come from Him.
- Rejoice: Our attitude needs to be one of gratitude, or thanksgiving, for all the things that G-d provides.
v20: He will not dwell unduly on the days of his life: We will not remember much of our lives, nor will we be remembered by others for very long. So, what we want to have is personal contentment (joy) in our hearts.
Note: Solomon has gone through a whole litany of things that people can do, and in what they can invest in. He’s revealing to us that these things have no lasting significance. It’s only when we understand things from G-d’s perspective, and when we see that any good is from Him, that we’re going to have joy in our hearts. This is what should be important to us.