God’s in Charge, Not You
5 Watch your step when you enter God’s house.
Enter to learn. That’s far better than mindlessly offering
Doing more harm than good.
2 Don’t shoot off your mouth, or speak before you think.
Don’t be too quick to tell God what you think he wants to hear.
God’s in charge, not you—the less you speak, the better.
3 Overwork makes for restless sleep.
Overtalk shows you up as a fool.
4-5 When you tell God you’ll do something, do it—now.
God takes no pleasure in foolish drivel. Vow it, then do it.
Far better not to vow in the first place than to vow and not pay up.
6 Don’t let your mouth make a total sinner of you.
When called to account, you won’t get by with
“Sorry, I didn’t mean it.”
Why risk provoking God to angry retaliation?
7 But against all illusion and fantasy and empty talk
There’s always this rock foundation: Fear God!
A Salary of Smoke
8-9 Don’t be too upset when you see the poor kicked around, and justice and right violated all over the place. Exploitation filters down from one petty official to another. There’s no end to it, and nothing can be done about it. But the good earth doesn’t cheat anyone—even a bad king is honestly served by a field.
10 The one who loves money is never satisfied with money,
Nor the one who loves wealth with big profits. More smoke.
11 The more loot you get, the more looters show up.
And what fun is that—to be robbed in broad daylight?
12 Hard and honest work earns a good night’s sleep,
Whether supper is beans or steak.
But a rich man’s belly gives him insomnia.
13-17 Here’s a piece of bad luck I’ve seen happen:
A man hoards far more wealth than is good for him
And then loses it all in a bad business deal.
He fathered a child but hasn’t a cent left to give him.
He arrived naked from the womb of his mother;
He’ll leave in the same condition—with nothing.
This is bad luck, for sure—naked he came, naked he went.
So what was the point of working for a salary of smoke?
All for a miserable life spent in the dark?
Make the Most of What God Gives
18-20 After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.
New Living Translation
Approaching God with Care
5 [a]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 [b]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.
3 Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool.
4 When 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. 5 It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it. 6 Don’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.
7 Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead.
The Futility of Wealth
8 Don’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. 9 Even the king milks the land for his own profit![c]
10 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! 11 The 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!
12 People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.
13 There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. 14 Money 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. 15 We 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.
16 And 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. 17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.
18 Even 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. 19 And 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. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.
New International Version
Fulfill Your Vow to God
5 [a]Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
2 Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.(A)
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.(B)
3 A dream(C) comes when there are many cares,
and many words mark the speech of a fool.(D)
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it.(E) He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.(F) 5 It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.(G) 6 Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? 7 Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God.(H)
Riches Are Meaningless
8 If you see the poor oppressed(I) in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still. 9 The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.
10 Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.
11 As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?
12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance
permits them no sleep.(J)
13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:(K)
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
14 or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children
there is nothing left for them to inherit.
15 Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
and as everyone comes, so they depart.(L)
They take nothing from their toil(M)
that they can carry in their hands.(N)
16 This too is a grievous evil:
As everyone comes, so they depart,
and what do they gain,
since they toil for the wind?(O)
17 All their days they eat in darkness,
with great frustration, affliction and anger.
18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink(P) and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor(Q) under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions,(R) and the ability to enjoy them,(S) to accept their lot(T) and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.(U) 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.(V)
- Ecclesiastes 5:1 In Hebrew texts 5:1 is numbered 4:17, and 5:2-20 is numbered 5:1-19.