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. Ecclesiastes 5:1 (ESV)
The King James Version begins Ecclesiastes 5:1 with, “Keep thy foot.” The Hebrew word for keep in this verse means to take heed or to hedge about with thorns. Solomon seems to be warning us to “take heed and protect how we walk when we go to the house of God.” “Go to the house of God” could be understood as approaching God in worship either personally or corporately. It seems to carry with it the idea of approaching God the same way Moses approached the burning bush and Joshua approached the Commander of the Lord’s army; by removing their sandals (Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5:15). The ground is holy as we approach God because God is holy.
God is our loving father and desires for us to come to him (Hebrews 4:16). Though we do not have to literally remove our shoes, we should approach God in a reverent manner and never with the attitude that we have earned the right to do so (Hebrews 10:19). We should approach him with humility, brokenness, in spirit and truth (Psalm 51:16-17; John 4:23); with our unworthiness and his holiness in plain view.
The Hebrew word for listen in Ecclesiastes 5:1 means to not only hear but also to obey. James touched on this truth when he wrote, But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:22 ESV) When King Saul disobeyed the command of God the prophet Samuel said to him, Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22 ESV)
The sacrifice of fools is the offering of our worship whether it is singing, preaching, tithing or ministering to the needy with the belief that it will be acceptable to God even though we have rebelled against his commandments. Approaching God in this way is irreverent because it treats God like he doesn’t see how we live. It presumes his blessing on our worship in spite of our disobedience.
Solomon said that those who approach God in worship while disregarding his word do not know that they are doing evil. In other words they are deceived into believing their worship is acceptable to God. However, in God eyes it is evil when we offer worship to him and do not live in accordance with his commandments.
We can keep from offering the sacrifice of fools by guarding our steps. Solomon tells us how to guard our steps; listen and obey the word of God. One psalmist wrote, How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9-11 ESV)
Are you guarding your steps? Are you offering worship that is acceptable to God?
Scriptures for meditation:
Psalm 37:31; 51:16-17