How Do You View Wealth? (Ecclesiastes 5{8-20)
May 15, 2012, 3:08 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

By looking at Ecclesiastes 5:8-20 we can answer the question, “How do you view wealth?”  Solomon is used by the Holy Spirit to teach us that wealth comes as a gift from God.  He also teaches us that wealth, both the love of it and the realization of it in our lives won’t produce happiness if we fail to see it as a gift from God. 


Wealth Does Not Satisfy (v8-12)

1.  Wealth often involves one group taking advantage of another group.  Officials often use their position to gain weatlth.

8 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.   (Jehovah who will ultimately judge perfectly the quality of their rule.

9 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.

9 The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.

5:9 All people live by God’s grace in His provision for the earth.

2.  Wealth leads to a desire for more and more.  Those who love wealth, never have enough and often live empty, unsatisfied lives.

10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.

This is the third time unfulfilled desires is addressed in Ecclesiastes (1:8; 4:8) Desire always outruns possessions, no matter how many things we have.  According to I Timothy 6:9-10, the love of money is never satisfied.

            3.  Wealth often brings people who wish to gain from another’s wealth.  As goods increase, so do those who consume them.   And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?

11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?

Man who has been created with eternity in his heart can never be satisfied with the nourishment of the temporary wealth of this world. 

The accumulation of wealth also attracts a wide variety of parasites. The fruit of a man’s labor is vigorously consumed by an ever-growing group of spongers. The wealthy man enjoys a form of profit. He may enjoy viewing the fruit of his labor. Because of things like inflation, wealth is constantly being reduced and a wealthy man has to constantly protect his wealth.

5:11 those who consume them increase. This refers to the rich man’s dependents.

            4.  Wealth often brings sleepless nights because of restlessness caused by guilt, worries, or desire.

 12 The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.


Wealth Brings Difficulty (v13-17)

1.  Wealth creates problems and difficulties for those who have pursued it. 

13 There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.

13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:  wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner,

This is the climax of the Seeker’s teaching on wealth.  The man who has struggled for riches considered them good, but in reality they are evil. This applies of course to a man who is totally absorbed with life under the sun. Such a man keeps riches to his own hurt.

            2.  Wealth is often lost by misfortune or bad decisions, and there is nothing to leave survivors.

14 But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand.

Evil travail- misfortune or a “worthless task”

Begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand- when he has a son there is nothing left for him.

            3.  You can’t take wealth with you.  You can leave it behind for others to fight over.

15 As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.

15 Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.

The maxim that “you can’t take it with you” is affirmed here.

16 And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind?

16 This too is a grievous evil: As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind?

5:16 labored for the wind: The wording is similar to “grasping for the wind” (1:14).

            4.  Wealth is easily lost so it is an unsure foundation for life. 

 17 All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness. (frustration, affliction, and anger)

“darkness … anger”.  The lifestyle of an unsatisfied person often prevents them from enjoying what they do have (contrast 2:24–26; 3:12, 13).

Earthly treasures are precarious and bring disadvantages; they produce anxiety (v. 12) and pain (v. 13). They disappear through bad business (v. 14) and are left at death (v. 15). They can even produce fear (v. 17).


Wealth Comes Ultimately From God (v18-20)

            1.  Wealth can be the result of hard work.  Work is a gift from God.

18 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.

18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot.

Labor- the word is used as a noun which means “toil,” or work for material gain (Ps. 127:1; Prov. 16:26), but it can also mean “trouble” or “sorrow” (see Job 3:10).  It is only when we realize that work is a gift from God that it becomes a joy.  We were created to work. Our faithfulness to our work will have eternal consequences and eternal rewards. 

Comely- proper or fitting. The same word translated in 3:11 “appropriate.” Once again, Solomon uses an admonition to enjoy the richness of life that God gives.

            2.  Wealth, and the enjoyment of it, is a gift from God, who enables us to accept them as a part of God’s plan for their life, which produces happiness in work.

19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.

Hath given him power to eat thereof- enables him to enjoy them.

His portion- part of the plan God has for us in life.

Rejoice in his labor= be happy in his work.

The gift of God- insight which causes us to enjoy the satisfaction of His good gifts.

God has separated the gift of enjoying something from the gift of the object itself so that we might be driven back to the Giver.

            3.  The key concepts in a Christian worldview are “God” and “gifts”.  All we have is a gift from God that is to be enjoyed.

20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.

20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.

Wisdom counsels a state of determined rejoicing, whether the menu be steak or hamburger, and the ability to achieve such a perspective is in itself a gift of God.

God “answereth”- literally means to “keep busy”, God keeps a person occupied and delighted primarily with Himself and then with the gifts He gives.

“joy” of his heart: The Seeker uses the word joy in two ways: (1) “enjoyment,” an internal sense of pleasure (2:10, 26; 4:16; 9:7; 10:19) and (2) “pleasure,” pleasurable actions (2:1, 2, 10; 7:4; 11:9).


Life Application: True enjoyment in life comes from a specific knowledge that the living God gives day-by-day and we need to take everything from His hand with thanksgiving, whether it is pain or pleasure.


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