True Blue Jon
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Chapter 1 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/425670

Chapter 2 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/426297

Chapter 3 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/426850

Chapter 4 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/427612

Chapter 6 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/429192

Chapter 7 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/430314

Chapter 8 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/431776

Chapter 9 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/432501

Chapter 10 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/433602

Chapter 11 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/434729

Chapter 12 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/435835

This is the NRSV version from here: http://bible.oremus.org/

Ecclesiastes 5

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God; to draw near to listen is better than the sacrifice offered by fools; for they do not know how to keep from doing evil. 2Never be rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be quick to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven, and you upon earth; therefore let your words be few. 3For dreams come with many cares, and a fool’s voice with many words.

4When you make a vow to God, do not delay fulfilling it; for he has no pleasure in fools. Fulfill what you vow. 5It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not fulfill it. 6Do not let your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake; why should God be angry at your words, and destroy the work of your hands? 7With many dreams come vanities and a multitude of words; but fear God. 8If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and right, do not be amazed at the matter; for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them.

9But all things considered, this is an advantage for a land: a king for a plowed field. 10The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain. This also is vanity. 11When goods increase, those who eat them increase; and what gain has their owner but to see them with his eyes? 12Sweet is the sleep of laborers, whether they eat little or much; but the surfeit of the rich will not let them sleep. 13There is a grievous ill that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owners to their hurt, 14and those riches were lost in a bad venture; though they are parents of children, they have nothing in their hands. 15As they came from their mother’s womb, so they shall go again, naked as they came; they shall take nothing for their toil, which they may carry away with their hands. 16This also is a grievous ill: just as they came, so shall they go; and what gain do they have from toiling for the wind? 17Besides, all their days they eat in darkness, in much vexation and sickness and resentment.

18This is what I have seen to be good: it is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of the life God gives us; for this is our lot. 19Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them, and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil—this is the gift of God. 20For they will scarcely brood over the days of their lives, because God keeps them occupied with the joy of their hearts.
 
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Jorge Montero
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I don't get 5:2 at all. I thought that the christian god was omniscient? Then he's supposed to know both my thoughts and my words. Then why would it matter what one says before god? Am I being too literal here?
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Ben Carter
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hibikir wrote:
I don't get 5:2 at all. I thought that the christian god was omniscient? Then he's supposed to know both my thoughts and my words. Then why would it matter what one says before god? Am I being too literal here?


I think so. What I get out of verses 1-8 are that we should be respectful of God, because (to quote the youth minister at the church where I grew up) He is God and we're not. God is omnipotent, so it's best to be careful what we say about Him, and also what we say to Him. He has been known to show great mercy, and has also been known to show great wrath. From what I can tell, Solomon's advice here is not to take God lightly, lest we end up being the target of His wrath.
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Eldon Nichol
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hibikir wrote:
I don't get 5:2 at all. I thought that the christian god was omniscient? Then he's supposed to know both my thoughts and my words. Then why would it matter what one says before god? Am I being too literal here?


Uncontrolled speech is a common motif in biblical (an other ancient Near Eastern) wisdom, where it is often compared to the virtue of silence. "When you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not put off fulfilling it, for the Lord your God will require it of you, and you will have incurred guilt; whereas you incur no guilt if you refrain from vowing. You must fulfill what has crossed your lips and perform what you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God, having made the promise with your own mouth." (Deut. 23:22-24) "Where there is much talking, there is no lack of transgressing, but he who curbs his tongue shows sense." (Prov. 10:19) "It is a snare for a man to pledge a sacred gift rashly and to give thought to his vows only after they have been made." (Prov. 20:25)

Though God knows what you are going to say (and what you are thinking) it is the actual act of saying something that matters deeply to God. Consider for a moment how you would feel if you knew your child had done something wrong but they swear that they had done nothing. What is the greater wrong - the act or the rash vow? Both hurt you as a parent but the falsehood is the greater hurt.
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John So-And-So
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I was taught that "uttering a word before God" here means swearing an oath in his name, which is often advised against in scripture ("let your yes be yes", and so forth)..
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It's about making vows. If you are bullshiting when you make an official vow, God knows and he will SMOTE you. Or so I'm told.

I used this passage in a wedding.
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Are verses 18-20 the only positive verses so far?
 
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An open-eyed man falling into the well
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quozl wrote:
Are verses 18-20 the only positive verses so far?


Perhaps; I found parts of the last chapter ("...A threefold cord is not quickly broken.") to be positive.

What do you think the author is trying to say by emphasizing the negative, except here?
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Anonymouse512 wrote:
quozl wrote:
Are verses 18-20 the only positive verses so far?


Perhaps; I found parts of the last chapter ("...A threefold cord is not quickly broken.") to be positive.

What do you think the author is trying to say by emphasizing the negative, except here?


Well, a surface-level reading would be that life is meaningless so have fun. But Solomon is saying more than the surface level or he wouldn't spend most of this chapter talking about God. I like to think that he's writing Ecclesiastes as he's thinking it through. He sees the meaninglessness of life all around him but he also has experienced the reality of God. This book is how he reconciles those two seemingly contradictory truths. This chapter in particular is the intersection.
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Eldon Nichol
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quozl wrote:
Anonymouse512 wrote:
quozl wrote:
Are verses 18-20 the only positive verses so far?


Perhaps; I found parts of the last chapter ("...A threefold cord is not quickly broken.") to be positive.

What do you think the author is trying to say by emphasizing the negative, except here?


Well, a surface-level reading would be that life is meaningless so have fun. But Solomon is saying more than the surface level or he wouldn't spend most of this chapter talking about God. I like to think that he's writing Ecclesiastes as he's thinking it through. He sees the meaninglessness of life all around him but he also has experienced the reality of God. This book is how he reconciles those two seemingly contradictory truths. This chapter in particular is the intersection.


I like your insight. We should also note that this section (which goes thru 6:9) concludes with the LAST (there are nine) of the characteristic phrase, "meaningless, a chasing after the wind". Indicating a change (intersection).
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quozl wrote:
He sees the meaninglessness of life all around him but he also has experienced the reality of God.


What is the author's "reality of God" that contrasts with the meaninglessness of life? (Or does that come later?)

He seems to be saying that happiness comes only from God to those who enjoy their toil. But if you enjoy your toil, isn't that somewhat self-fulfilling? ("God helps those who help themselves.")

Perhaps I have it backwards - the author belives that only from serving God can you enjoy your toil and thus be happy?
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Anonymouse512 wrote:
quozl wrote:
He sees the meaninglessness of life all around him but he also has experienced the reality of God.


What is the author's "reality of God" that contrasts with the meaninglessness of life? (Or does that come later?)

He seems to be saying that happiness comes only from God to those who enjoy their toil. But if you enjoy your toil, isn't that somewhat self-fulfilling? ("God helps those who help themselves.")

Perhaps I have it backwards - the author belives that only from serving God can you enjoy your toil and thus be happy?


I think "gift from God" here is an expression used as the opposite of "vanity" that was used earlier. Is it useless? Then it's vanity. Is it good? Then it's a gift from God. And, yes, we'll get more about God in later chapters.
 
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