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Bible: What Does Ecclesiastes 5-8 Teach Us About Money Management and Practical Wisdom?
Hoarder of Wealth
Do you consider the Bible when it comes to money management?
Ecclesiastes 5-8: Vows; Money Management; More Vanity; Practical Wisdom; Relationship to Rulers
Vows and Money Management
Solomon warns believers against making rash vows to God (v. 2); rather, worshipers should listen to His word, keep their promises, and fear Him (vv. 1, 4, 7).
Making hasty decisions and uttering many words signify the actions of a fool (vv. 3, 7).
Solomon resumes his discussion of the many facets of money management.
Governmental bureaucracy inevitably leads to the unrighteous treatment of the poor (vv. 8-9[?]).
Money does not satisfy its lover, nor does his getting even more of it (v. 10).
Increased supply must meet increased demand; man often faces no rest, constant work, and little enjoyment in the production [?] (v. 11).
How to Sleep Well
Regardless of how well or how poorly he sups, the hard worker welcomes and experiences a good night's sleep.
However, a wealthy man oftentimes cannot rest, because he does not work hard enough to burn off the "abundance" of energy (v. 12).
Hoarding wealth and then losing it through a poor investment leave a man with no means of support for his son (vv. 13-14).
All of his life's labor yields him nothing but suffering (vv. 15-17).
Solomon’s conclusion: whether you are rich or not, eat, drink, and enjoy the good things God gives you (vv. 18-19).
By occupying yourself in this manner, you will not think much about the passing years (v. 20).
Solomon sees as great evil a man's inability to enjoy the good things God has given him, whether they be riches or children (vv. 1-3).
He describes the “life” of a still-born (vv. 4-5), declaring that its existence is better than that of the one who cannot enjoy life’s good things because the stillborn had more "rest" (v. 6).
Man works to eat, but it is not enough to satisfy him; the wise man has no advantage, because neither is he satisfied (vv. 7-8).
Merely seeing something is better than wanting it and not being able to have it (v. 9).
Human beings are what they are; they cannot change themselves by complaining to the Creator (vv. 10-11).
Concluding the chapter, Solomon asks two rhetorical questions:
(1) "Who knows what is for mankind’s good?" and
(2) "Who knows what the future holds?" (v. 12).
[“God alone” appears to be the answer; however, the king may have meant it to be “No one.”]
Solomon's Perspective Toward Mankind
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Next, the author relates seven points of practical wisdom:
(1) On the day of your death, people remember your good "name" or reputation; your name is a better preservative than baby ointment [?] (v. 1).
(2) Funerals teach realism (v. 2); sorrow makes you wiser (vv. 3-4).
(3) What appears outwardly as negative and depressing Solomon again favors over the boisterous frivolity of "good times" (vv. 5-6).
(4) Patience pays in the end (v. 8), but a low boiling point characterizes a fool (v. 9).
(5) Wisdom does not ask why the "good old days" were better than the present (v. 10).
(6) Wisdom, like money, is good, profitable, and a shelter against the storms of life; unlike an inheritance, wisdom preserves life (vv. 11-12).
(7) God exercises sovereign control over life, good and bad; man should recognize this fact and not act foolishly in the future (vv. 13-14).
Next, Solomon ponders a seeming contradiction: the just die while doing good, but the wicked live long and continue in evil (v. 15).
One who fears God will escape self-destructive tendencies in both extremely “right” and extremely “wrong” behavior (vv. 16-18).
Though righteous, a man will yet sin from time to time (v. 20). Moderate your sensitivity to people's words; recognize that “people” often speak more harshly than what they mean; realize also that you are "people" too (vv. 21-22).
Even Solomon could not discover the deepest reasons for the follies in life, but he did experience the bitterness of being associated with an evil woman (vv. 23-26).
In his long search, the Preacher has found only one [just?] man in a thousand, but no [righteous] woman.
His conclusion: man, once righteous, is now a scoundrel (vv. 27-29).
The Wisdom of Solomon
Wisdom Regarding One's Relationship to the Authorities
Wisdom affects a man's face, transforming it from sternness to radiance (v. 1).
Next, Solomon changes gears and offers three sage pieces of advice regarding one's relationship to the king:
(1) Obey him, for God's sake (v. 2);
(2) Do not run away when guilty (v. 3; cf. 10:4); and
(3) Do not support a bad cause (v. 3).
Obedience to the Sovereign's law brings safety; the wise knows that the authorities will eventually judge evildoers (vv. 4-5; cf. Rom. 13).
The guilty becomes distraught and feels his powerlessness as his inevitable death approaches (vv. 6-8).
Wicked ones, who once participated in divine worship, are forgotten after death (v. 10).
[Apparently, a community does not learn wisdom from their bad example, and thus perpetuates their errors].
Delaying the punishment of criminals encourages continued mischief (v. 11).
Sinners may prolong their lives despite their evil ways, but those who fear God will live good lives and prosper spiritually (vv. 12-13).
Yet Solomon acknowledges that this is not always so, because the righteous sometimes suffer as though they were wicked, and the wicked prosper as though they were righteous (v. 14).
Therefore, he recommends enjoyment of life's legitimate pleasures (v. 15), since mortal, finite man, even though he may be wise, cannot understand the big picture.
God's work is inscrutable (vv. 16-17).
© 2013 glynch1