MEASURED SPEECH by Dave Jenkins for Servants of Grace
Ecclesiastes 5:1-7, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. 2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. 3 For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.
4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Let not 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 voice and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.”
Ecclesiastes contains wisdom for all of life, including the public, corporate worship of God. We see this in Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 as the Preacher outlines the approach we are to have when we draw near to God in His “house.” How do wise people enter into the Lord’s presence? The answer is that they enter with few words and with an eagerness to listen.
In worship, we are to express our praise to God verbally (Psalm 9:11; 30:4). However, if there is no time devoted to hearing from God, then we have not truly offered up worship that is pleasing to our Creator. While we are not to come before the Almighty as spectators who are seeking entertainment, we are to seek a word from Him upon which we will actively meditate and which we will apply to our lives. As Scripture explains, this is listening to the very Word of God itself. Much of our services should consist in the reading of the Scriptures and the preaching and teaching of these oracles of the Lord (Neh. 8:1–8; 1 Tim. 4:13). For the congregation, this consists mainly of silent hearing that nevertheless demands the active engagement of our hearts and minds. Part of loving the Lord with our hearts and our minds involves paying close attention to His words for us (Matt. 22:37). Matthew Henry gives counsel regarding our duties in worship, mainly as we sit under the ministry of the Word: “We must diligently attend to the word of God read and preached,” and “we must resolve to comply with the will of God as it is made known to us.”