The term dorbellist has fallen out of use, but lexicographer Kory Stamper of Merriam-Webster would like to revive it. This word means “fool,” specifically the kind of fool who appears to be smart but actually isn’t.
Solomon seems to have exactly this kind of fool in mind in today’s reading. Today we begin a new section in our month’s study, examining silence as a part of our daily walk with the Lord. The beginning of Ecclesiastes 5 makes a simple point in this regard: wisdom is associated with silence or few words, while foolishness is associated with the opposite (see Eccl. 9:17).
These points are made in the context of worship: “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God” (v. 1). To “go near to listen” means to go with a humble, teachable, obedient attitude, one that is slow to speak in light of God’s greatness. “God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few” (v. 2). The “sacrifice of fools,” by contrast, is the babbling of many words. The proverb of verse 3 is a guarantee: As surely as many cares cause restless or idle dreams, so also foolishness causes many words.
When making vows to the Lord, for example, many words can get one in trouble (vv. 4–6). Even if people speak impulsively or insincerely, they will not be let off the hook but will be held accountable. God does not forget—promises made to Him must be kept!
To fear the Lord, then, is to avoid the trap of many words and to exercise self-discipline of the tongue (v. 7). The word meaningless connects this point with the main theme of Ecclesiastes. Language is created by God; therefore, words have significance, meaning, and power and should be handled with caution and reverence.
Are our prayers long and showy (Matt. 6:5–8)? Are we constantly posting on social media? Or are we listening quietly for words of wisdom, and perhaps even speaking some from time to time? Ask the Lord to help you guard your tongue and avoid the trap of foolishness that masquerades as too many words without wisdom.