Let Your Words Be Few (Ecclesiastes 5:7 [5:6])

For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God.

Ecclesiastes 5:7 (5:6)

Note: The 5:7/5:6 deal in the verse reference has to do with my Bible’s footnotes telling me that chapter five begins one verse later in the Hebrew than in the English.

We are wont to forget this truth.

People talk about their dreams and visions all the time. It is a simple matter to find a talk show interview with someone who had a “near death experience” or who “came back” with some vision or another. God knows I’ve dreamed my share of dreams that turned out to be true, but I have no intention of trying to write a best seller based on them (unless it’s a surreal novel, some of my dreams are weird). The more people talk about their dreams and their visions and their what-have-you, the more likely it becomes that doctrinally unsound things will find their way in.

There are piles and piles of books out there purporting to be “the word of God” and speaking at great length about one thing or another. There are books about the End Times and books about how the author thinks that God does not want His children to be poor of sick. People write about almost anything. Solomon cuts through that din and says that in many words there is emptiness. The more we write, the more likely we are to write something that misrepresents God or simply has no value at all.

The remedy for both of these potential errors is to — put bluntly — shut up and fear God. Solomon said Rather, fear God. I’m understanding the rather to mean that we should employ an alternative to talking a great deal, i.e. shut up. If these folks who talk at great length about their visions and dreams actually feared the God they claim to be speaking for, then they would say less — much less — about their dreams and such. If writers, myself included, considered every word and weighed it against scripture, then we would be succinct. Earlier in the chapter, Solomon put it another way: God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.

By way of application, I will paraphrase Polonius (from Shakespeare’s Hamlet):

Brevity is good for the soul. So zip it.


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