Day 11: Attitudes toward God (5:1)
“Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil” (5:1).
Today’s “verse” is part of a section, verses 1 through 7, that is given a variety of titles: “Don’t Make Rash Promises (GNT)”, “Fear God (ESV)”, “God’s in Charge, Not You (MSG)”, “Fulfill Your Vow to God (NIV)” and, appropriately, for today’s thoughts: “Your Attitude Toward God” (AMP, NASB). Solomon was well qualified to make the observations that follow despite, in later life, NOT practising what he preached. It was he, who after all was the main instigator behind building the main “house of God” – the Temple, and he even built his own house next door, including an easy access to the Temple, where he could view “worshippers” coming and going. Likely, he could see that in the case of many it was all a sham. It reminds us of the parable Jesus told of the Pharisee and the Tax collector, Luke 18:8-14. “The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people – cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” John Bunyan understood well what is needed when we approach God: “When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart”.
We need to have the right attitude when we approach God. As Jesus reminds us: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me” Matthew 15:8. God is not interested in lip service, however elaborate that is, or eloquent the language we use – God is more interested in the language of the heart and in the seriousness of how we carry out doing what he wants and requires from us. Jesus also said: “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” Matthew 5:37. This brings us to the subject of promises and vows, something that was an important part of ancient Hebrew worship that people were required, under penalty if they don’t, to carry out, and which is arguably ever applicable. We round off this section with a reminder of what is needed and of something the Preacher saw was absent then and would likely do so if he were considering religious attitudes in our own times: “For in many dreams and in many words there is futility. Rather, fear God” (5:7 NASB.) We are told “to obey is better than sacrifice” 1 Samuel 15:22 and that “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” John 4:24.
Prayer: Dear Lord, forgive us when we approach worshiping you, the Almighty God, without the honour you deserve. May we do so with the right our attitude.