Wise Worship

Reading the Word

Ecclesiastes 5:1–7 (ESV)
1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil.
2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
3 For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.
4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.
5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.
6 Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?
7 For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Ecclesiastes has been giving us a look at life from a humanistic viewpoint. There has been very little discussion of God so far. However, now we read about proper worship of God. If we are to worship, we must do so with a posture of being ready to listen and learn and being careful not to speak foolish things. Foolishness may lead us into wrong worship and angering God. We need to be ready to learn and be careful not to make vows that we cannot or will not keep.

Today’s passage ends by saying that “when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity.” In other words, when our own illusions guide us and we speak freely in ignorance, it leads to empty, even idolatrous worship. We can try to find meaning to life through worship, but we will only find it if we take the time to learn who God truly is and what he desires from us. This is what it means to fear God in this passage. Our worship must be centered on God, not on ourselves.

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