Approaching God with Care
1*5:1 Verse 5:1 is numbered 4:17 in Hebrew text. As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. 2*5:2 Verses 5:2-20 are numbered 5:1-19 in Hebrew text. Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few.
3Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool.
4When you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him. 5It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it. 6Don’t let your mouth make you sin. And don’t defend yourself by telling the Temple messenger that the promise you made was a mistake. That would make God angry, and he might wipe out everything you have achieved.
7Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead.
The Futility of Wealth
8Don’t be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land. For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy. 9Even the king milks the land for his own profit!*5:9 The meaning of the Hebrew in verses 8 and 9 is uncertain.
10Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! 11The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!
12People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.
13There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. 14Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children. 15We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.
16And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. 17Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.
18Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.