1 Keep thy foot [ footing] when thou goest to the house [Bais] of Elohim, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools [zevach of kesilim]: for they consider not [have no da'as] that they do evil [rah].
2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart [lev] be hasty to utter any thing before Elohim: for Elohim is in heaven [Shomayim], and thou upon earth [ha'aretz]: therefore let thy words [dvarim] be few.
The word used by the Greeks for religion was "threscheia", from "threscheuo", to worship. This may be derived from "scheuoz", taken metonymically for a minister; and "threo", to shout or make a clamour; because, in that worship which results from the thinking of sinful flesh, the performers rend the air with their shouts; and if idolaters, they "call upon the name of their gods" with frantic cries, "cutting themselves with knives and lancets till the blood gushes out upon them". (Kings 18:28)
The worship of God recognizes no such practices as these. When persons make their meeting houses to echo with clamorous prayers, such as may often be heard among some who profess the religion of Christ -- shouting, I say, like the priests of Baal, as though God were "talking, or pursuing, or on a journey, or peradventure sleeping, and needed to be awaked" -- such persons evince that they are "scheue dregez", vessels of wrath, who comprehend not the genius of the truth; and not "scheue eleouz", vessels of mercy, whose thoughts are in harmony with the divine law.
How different was the prayer of Elijah. From him ascended the "still small voice" of fervent, but tranquil supplication. He knew that God was neither deaf nor asleep; but a God everywhere present by the universality of His spirit. His words were few. He did not expect to be heard for his much speaking; knowing that God is not to be moved by "vain repetitions", or volubility of speech; but by the love He has for His children, and for the glory of His name.
Elpis Israel 1.5.
3 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business [As by a multitude of cares cometh a chalom (dream)]; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words [so by a multitude of dvarim cometh the kol kesil (the voice of the fool)].
The folly of much talking. A wise man will talk little and weigh all his words well, always aware of his own limitations, and God's infinite wisdom and greatness. The fool is known by his thoughtless, foolish, trivial chattering. *
Have your tongue well in command. Some people make it difficult for their friends to bear with them. Their incessant prattle is a weariness, and their unwise words are constantly getting them into trouble.
Silence gives the desire of your friends an opportunity to grow. Of course, silence may be carried too far, but the gift of wise silence is a great acquisition. You know what Solomon says (and it is true) that
"even a fool is esteemed wise when he holdeth his peace."
The Christadelphian, Mar 1888
4 When thou vowest a vow [neder] unto Elohim, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools [kesilim]: pay that which thou hast vowed.
Shallow religiousness - the greatness of God, the smallness of man. Human religiousness is wordy and ostentatious - the babbling sacrifice of fools, as he calls it - religion of the mouth and not of the ear.
Religion is another way man seeks the answer to life. Practically everyone has some sort of religion, even though it be a debased, hopeless, man-made religion, like evolution or atheism, it's still their religion that they swear by. But how few - how few- give their whole lives to humbly and hungrily seeking the true wisdom that is from above!**
5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow [make a neder], than that thou shouldest vow and not pay [not fulfill the neder.].
The folly of rash vows -- thoughtless promises -- ill considered statements. In our present dispensation the command is carried further and all vows are forbidden, but the basic principle is the same -- care and thoughtfulness and restraint, instead of impetuousness and rashness -- in what we say we will do.
How often we speak thoughtlessly and hastily and do not carry out what we say, in dealing with children especially. This is fatal for any discipline or respect. Far better to say nothing at all, than to keep making hasty decisions, thoughtless commands, and impetuous warnings that are never carried through. All this is childish, immature, undisciplined folly in God's sight and will be called to account. "God hath no pleasure in fools" -- and all natural reactions and spur-of-the moment decisions are foolishness before God. *
7 For in the multitude of dreams [chalomot] and many words [dvarim] there are also divers vanities [havalim]: but fear thou Elohim.
Novels spoil people for actual life, because actual life does not work out in the connected method of a story. It has no plot and no romance. It is furtive and disjointed, and needs the principles of truth and kindness to make it of any tolerable interest. Novels, which are manufactured dreams, do not give you this.
TC 08/1894 p312.
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.
The earth is God's property, not ours.
He has a plan, and He is not heedless, and human perversities and confusions cannot frustrate His plan. Our part is to do our duty; to do His work, and be not too much distressed at our surroundings; to bear all, and keep our eye on God, and pass on to the promised day. If we do not, we shall be overborne.
Say we visit a battlefield the day after a battle. Suppose it to be outside Metz, in the Franco-Prussian war, about 17 years ago. The carnage was dreadful. The weapons were so destructive that whole ranks were shot through as they stood. They did not have room to fall. They were just mown down and lay like swathes of grass before the scythe. The country was filled with slain. The spectacle was appalling.
Now a man looking on a spectacle like that without reflection might be tempted to exclaim -There cannot be a God!" Oh! No! There would be no true logic in such an exclamation. The man who knows God does not extract such a conclusion as that from a scene of carnage, though feeling the pain of it as much as any. He says, -This does not suggest to me that there is no God. It tells me that there is a God: for how is it that there is such a thing as war at all in the finest race of creatures on the earth?
There is a reason for such derangement: and it cannot be found apart from the Creator of the race." Some say, -Can it be from God who is universal power, and goodness, and wisdom and love?"
...Yes, strange as it may seem. It is because man has usurped God's place upon the earth, that God has allowed man to come into such affliction. Man has forgotten God, and he glorifies himself to the utmost in testimonials, statues, addresses, magnifications, and memorials of all sorts.
At whose shrine is all the incense offered? For whom are all his busy works? For whose benefit, glory, honour, and comfort is all this vast machinery of human life upon the earth? For man and not for God at all. It is the old crime of Belshazzar over again. The crime of Belshazzar is the crime of all mankind.
"Thou, Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart... and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified" (Dan. 5).
And he was slain that night. Man does not humble himself nor glorify God. It is because of this that God leaves him to manage for a time, and that is the result of his management; that men cut each other's throats on the battlefield every now and then.
Yes, say some, "but that is only occasionally; we are not always fighting. We are not so badly off as you make out."
...People are not aware of how bad their lot is. They take life as it is now as a matter of course. Well, we did so ourselves once; but the Truth came and opened our eyes, and showed us what man is in himself, and how differently he is when God takes him in hand. A man does not know how to appreciate the present state of things until he knows the Truth. "The misery of man is great upon him," and there is no explanation but one, and that is the one the Bible furnishes.
... I may safely appeal to all present whether it has not made a great difference to know that evil is of God and is part of His purpose. In my own case it has brought unspeakable relief. It has taken away the dreadfulness of the problem of human life, as it now is upon the earth. It has acted like the removal of a great nightmare. It has abolished the gloom of heaven and earth; has presented the vast universe as a house of glory - a calm, tranquil, majestic temple of infinite wisdom and power and goodness, with earth's misery a mere episode ã subject to vanity for only 7,000 years.
10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
He turns to riches - greed, covetousness. The desire to have things beyond the useful necessities of life, is a self-propagating cancer, ever increasing the more it is fed - never satisfied, no satisfaction. Possessions bring problems and not peace. Riches do to man more harm than good and at last all must be left behind. Solomon's conclusion is the same as Paul's,
"Godliness with contentment is great gain." **
17 All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness.
The folly of seeking pleasure and security and satisfaction in this world's goods. ** Bro Growcott - The is the whole of man.
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 labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which Elohim giveth him: for it is his portion.
The joy of the righteous. Ecclesiastes does not belittle enjoyment of the natural things of God's loving providence. Rather, it urgently counsels their full and utter enjoyment in thanksgiving within the pattern of holiness and obedience and a total dedication of life's labours and possessions to the service of God.
..." to enjoy the good of all his labour."
But it must be the right labour. The fullest enjoyment of every present moment and circumstance is the Ecclesiastes recipe for life, in contrast to the ever-insatiable wandering of the desire. But there will be no true joy in anything unless the life is built solidly and securely upon God.**
19 Every man also to whom Elohim hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of Elohim.
There is the secret of it all-oneness with God, God answering, bringing God into the picture in everything, putting oneself by total obedience in the direct channel of God's love.**
**Bro~Growcott - Fear God and keep his commandments