The Preacher holds a very serious view of God, so it is not surprising that he shares words of wisdom regarding the use or abuse of words in relationship to God. His advice particularly concerns how people should speak before God in various circumstances. Words are powerful instruments and can do more good or more harm than physical actions. Words should reflect thoughts carefully chosen, yet words carelessly chosen very often carry a destructive potential.
Worship illustrates the potential of words (5:1). God will speak if we come with a readiness to listen. To come to worship through meaningless ritual (“the sacrifice of fools”) makes a mockery of worship. Careless ritual reveals a thoughtless attitude toward God, toward oneself in worship, and toward other worshipers.
Fearing God recognizes the proper “position” of a relationship with God (5:2-3). Fearing God recognizes His sovereignty and surpassing holiness (“heaven”). Fearing God acknowledges a worshiper’s humble state before God and His grace (“earth”). An ancient version translates: “We ought to know and reflect, that though we are far separated from heaven, we speak in the hearing of God, and that it is good for us to speak without offense.”
Fearing God means fulfilling every vow made to God (5:4). As with promises made to others, promises made to God should receive the most careful consideration (5:5). There is no going back on promises. Fearing God means considering the consequences of what you say to Him (5:6). He considers your word is your bond to act constructively and not be given to claiming a mistake if it fails. He will respond in accord with our words, pleasurably or otherwise.
Even in light of extreme circumstances, fearing God means knowing He retains His sovereignty over all events (5:7). I use the letters D and R in referring to the fear of God: Deepest Reverence, Deepest Recognition, and Deepest Respect for Him who made holy living possible.
Extreme circumstances are not sufficient cause to lose one’s perspective of God (5:8). Tunnel vision in one circumstance may mask lack of concern for other areas. God’s sovereignty over everything includes accountability between ourselves on a human level, and ultimately everything from us to Him. In His sovereignty He appoints officials to watch over each other, so when an official honors his commitments he demonstrates genuine concern for the lives of his people and is a blessing to all (5:9).
Dr. David Moore is a university online Bible and theology instructor. Email: email@example.com
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