Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part VI: Finding Lasting Fulfillment In View Of The Vanity Of Life's Circumstances
C. Handling The Futility Of Man's Religious Efforts In View Of Man's Sinful Weakness
(Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 with 12:13-14)
  1. Introduction
    1. Under the Law, a man would suffer God's discipline for making a false vow (Num. 30:2; Deut. 27:26), possibly resulting in the destruction of his works as evidence of the futility of living only for this life.
    2. Solomon noted the futility of making such errant vows, and in the New Testament we see the solution:
  2. Handling The Futility Of Man's Religious Efforts In View Of Man's Sinful Weakness.
    1. Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 has often been interpreted to teach Solomon there supplied an interlude to dwell on the correct worship of God; yet, these verses actually warn "against the folly of rash vows which could cause a person to lose the fruits of his labour" in judgment, revealing the vulnerability of man's best religious efforts under the Law in accord with Paul's argument in Romans 3:19-20. (Bib. Kno. Com., O.T., p. 988)
    2. Thus, we view the vulnerability of man's best religious works due to the sinful weakness of man as illustrated in the issue of vows made to God, Ecclesiastes 5:1-7:
      1. Though the desire to vow to God often came from deep devotion to God, Solomon warned against erroneously making a vow one could not keep and entered the temple with a sacrifice relative to the vow; this amounted to a sacrifice of a fool, for God would judge such a man, Eccles. 5:1-2; Num. 30:2.
      2. Then, Solomon noted that as "nighttime dreams often reveal one's preoccupation with his work, so also excessive words in prayer may show a lack of intelligence," giving added reason to watch one's words when making even a vow of deep devotion to God in prayer, Ryrie St. Bible, KJV, ftn. to 5:3.
      3. When thus making a vow to the Lord under the Law, Solomon urged it be paid quickly, for God took no pleasure in fools who failed to keep their promises to Him, Ecclesiastes 5:4.
      4. Indeed, it was better never to make a vow to God and thus suffer no loss in divine punishment than to make a vow that one could not keep, thus incurring earthly loss under God's discipline, cf. Eccles. 5:5.
      5. Solomon also warned against maneuvering one's self from accountability for making a vow he could not keep in telling God's priest he had made a mistake with his words; that violated Deuteronomy 23:21-23 where vows are said to be unconditionally binding, Eccles. 5:6. ["angel" (KJV) or "messenger" (NIV) is the priest to whom one revealed his vow (like Hannah in 1 Sam. 1:11-18); Ibid.]
      6. In the end, Solomon warned his readers to be cautious in making even vows of well-meaning devotion to God, and to fulfill what vows they made or lose earthly blessing due to God's judgment, Eccles. 5:7.
      7. (Summary: Because of man's sinful weakness under the Law, Solomon noted a man could lose the fruit of his labor in God's judgment for even making a vow to God with all good intentions if he could not keep it, or out of which he would try to maneuver before God's temple priest! This illustrates the futility of man's best religious efforts under the Law due to his own sinful weakness!)
    3. In view of the futility of man's best religious efforts done in all good intentions due to his own sinful weakness, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 with the New Testament offers God's ultimate solution (as follows):
      1. Solomon ended Ecclesiastes with a summary that applies to all the parts of his book, Eccles. 12:13-14.
      2. That lesson asserts the sole meaning of this earthly life is found in heeding Scripture's revelation that man must fear God and heed Him, for that is man's duty in view of his eternal accountability to God.
      3. Since Romans 3:19-20 teaches the Law came to expose man's inability to live acceptably before a perfectly righteous God, a fact that is noted in the issue of vows in Ecclesiastes 5:1-7, God calls men to believe in Christ to enjoy His gracious salvation from their sinful weakness, Romans 3:21-27.
      4. After salvation, to please God in our works, we must depend on the Spirit to live, cf. Romans 8:3-4.
Lesson: Man's best religious efforts under the Law to make even well-intended vows of devotion to God, if considered only with the senses "under the sun" were FUTILE in view of man's sinful weakness that often led him to make vows he COULD NOT keep! (Rom ans 3:4a)

Application: May we fear God so as to obey His BIBLICAL insight that we are so spiritually needy that we MUST believe in Christ for salvation from sin and LIVE by God's power, and all in view of our eternal accounting to Him, 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:10-11 for believers; Rev. 20:11-15 for the unsaved!