Online Bible Commentary
The Best Investment
Ecclesiastes 5:8 If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them. 9 Moreover the profit of the land is for all; even the king is served from the field. 10 He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, They increase who eat them; So what profit have the owners Except to see them with their eyes? 12 The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, Whether he eats little or much; But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep. 13 There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun: Riches kept for their owner to his hurt. 14 But those riches perish through misfortune; When he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand. (NKJV)
Solomon, son of David, was the king of Israel for some forty years (1 Kings 11:42) from 970 B.C. until his death at the age of fifty-nine in 931 B.C. He wrote the book of Ecclesiastes likely near the end of his life, about 935 B.C.
Solomon, being the son of a king, had received the best education known to man at the time. He learned the best of human wisdom. He also was blessed by God with true wisdom, the wisdom from God. He was considered to be the wisest man ever to live.
In this passage, Solomon is writing of those who have great wealth. When we see “the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness”, we should not “marvel”, or wonder why (v. 8a). This is a product of great wealth. Those with wealth control governments. Either they run the government or they run the people who do (v. 8b).
Theoretically, great wealth can be used for good or for bad. But too often, great wealth leads to power and power corrupts. Solomon was a perfect example of this. Although he was used greatly by God, he also oppressed the poor by requiring them to work as slaves to build up Israel, which became a great nation under Solomon. Justice and righteousness did not always flourish under his rule. And, as he grew Israel to be a great nation, Solomon also became richer (v. 9).
Those who accumulate great wealth are never “satisfied”, it is all in vain (v. 10) Solomon writes. He, more than anyone, understood this. As their riches increase, the wealthy just consume more. Their standard of living increases (v. 11). Not only that, they lose sleep from worrying about losing their wealth, while the “laborer” gets a good night’s sleep (v. 12).
The wealthy person who hoards his riches, instead of using his blessings to do good in the world, commits “evil”, sin, in the eyes of God (13a). This person is “hurt” (v. 13b), because there are earthly consequences to sin.
Those consequences can present themselves in the wealthy person losing his wealth, often through bad investments (v. 14a). The wealthy often lose everything. There is not even anything left for their children to inherit (v. 14b). It is better to invest our wealth eternally, in things that last, in the things of God.
Christians are called to store up our treasures in Heaven. We are not to hoard our wealth, but to use it to do good in the world. The best “good” we can do is to help someone get to Heaven.
We do this by supporting churches and parachurch ministries, such as this one. Our donations to the work of God have eternal impact. They save souls. They also store up treasures for us in Heaven, in the form of rewards from God. They are the best investment we can make!