'Vain' in the Bible
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain [that is, irreverently, in false affirmations or in ways that impugn the character of God]; for the Lord will not hold guiltless nor leave unpunished the one who takes His name in vain [disregarding its reverence and its power].
I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you sudden terror, consumption, and fever that will waste away the eyes and cause the soul to languish also. And you will sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies will eat what you plant.
Your strength will be spent uselessly, for your land will not yield its produce and the trees of the land will not yield their fruit.
‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain [that is, irreverently, in false affirmations or in ways that impugn the character of God]; for the Lord will not hold guiltless nor leave unpunished the one who takes His name in vain [disregarding its reverence and its power].
You must not turn away, for then you would go after futile things which cannot profit or rescue, because they are futile.
Now David had said, “Surely in vain I have protected and guarded all that this man has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missing of all that belonged to him; and he has repaid me evil for good.
“Let the stars of its early dawn be dark;Let the morning wait in vain for the light,Let it not see the eyelids of morning (the day’s dawning),
“The caravans of Tema looked [for water],The caravans of Sheba waited for them [in vain].
“I am accounted wicked and held guilty;Why then should I labor in vain [to appear innocent]?
“But the eyes of the wicked will fail,And they will not escape [the justice of God];And their hope is to breathe their last [and die].”
“Behold, all of you have seen it;Why then do you act vainly and foolishly [cherishing worthless concepts]?
“If I have withheld from the poor what they desired,Or have caused the eyes of the widow to look in vain [for relief],
“Surely God will not listen to an empty cry [which lacks trust],Nor will the Almighty regard it.
“She treats her young cruelly, as if they were not hers;Though her labor is in vain because she is unconcerned [for the safety of her brood],
From men with Your hand, O Lord,From men of the world [these moths of the night] whose portion [of enjoyment] is in this life—idle and vain,And whose belly You fill with Your treasure;They are satisfied with children,And they leave what they have left [of wealth] to their children.
I hate those who pay regard to vain (empty, worthless) idols;But I trust in the Lord [and rely on Him with unwavering confidence].
Give us help against the enemy,For the help of man is worthless (ineffectual, without purpose).
Surely then in vain I have cleansed my heartAnd washed my hands in innocence.
The Lord knows the thoughts of man,That they are a mere breath (vain, empty, futile).
Give us help against the adversary,For deliverance by man is in vain [a worthless hope].
You have turned Your back on all those who wander from Your statutes,For their deceitfulness is useless.
Unless the Lord builds the house,They labor in vain who build it;Unless the Lord guards the city,The watchman keeps awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise early,To retire late,To eat the bread of anxious labors—For He gives [blessings] to His beloved even in his sleep.
For they speak against You wickedly,Your enemies take Your name in vain.
If they say, “Come with us;Let us lie in wait to shed blood,Let us ambush the innocent without cause;
Indeed, it is useless to spread the baited netIn the sight of any bird;
Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles,But he who gathers gradually by [honest] labor will increase [his riches].
A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none [for his ears are closed to wisdom],But knowledge is easy for one who understands [because he is willing to learn].
Charm and grace are deceptive, and [superficial] beauty is vain,But a woman who fears the Lord [reverently worshiping, obeying, serving, and trusting Him with awe-filled respect], she shall be praised.
I have seen that every [effort in] labor and every skill in work comes from man’s rivalry with his neighbor. This too is vanity (futility, false pride) and chasing after the wind.
One hand full of rest and patience is better than two fists full of labor and chasing after the wind.
For who [limited by human wisdom] knows what is good for man during his lifetime, during the few days of his futile life? He spends them like a shadow [staying busy, but achieving nothing of lasting value]. For who can tell a man what will happen after him [to his work, his treasure, his plans] under the sun [after his life is over]?
Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given you under the sun—all the days of vanity and futility. For this is your reward in life and in your work in which you have labored under the sun.
Then I said, “I have labored in vain,I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity (pride, uselessness);However My justice is with the Lord,And My reward is with My God.”
“They will not labor in vain,Or bear children for disaster;For they are the descendants of those blessed by the Lord,And their offspring with them.
“In vain I have punished your people [with the consequences of their disobedience];They received no insight from correction [and refused to change].Your [own] sword has devoured your prophetsLike a destroying lion.
“Truly, [the hope of salvation from] the hill [where idols are worshiped] is a deception,A tumult and noisy multitude on the mountains;Truly in the Lord our GodIs the salvation of Israel.
And you, O desolate one, what will you do?Though you clothe yourself in scarlet,Though you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold,Though you enlarge your eyes with paint,You make yourself beautiful in vain.Your lovers (allies) despise you;They seek your life.
The bellows blow fiercely,The lead is consumed by the fire;In vain they continue refining,But the wicked are not separated and removed.
But they will say, ‘That is hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act in accordance with the stubbornness of his evil heart.’
Thus says the Lord of hosts,“Do not listen to the words of the [false] prophets who prophesy to you.They are teaching you worthless things and are leading you into futility;They speak a vision of their own mind and imaginationAnd not [truth] from the mouth of the Lord.
Hear this, I am against those who have prophesied false and made-up dreams,” says the Lord, “and have told them and have made My people err and go astray by their lies and by their reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them nor do they benefit and enhance [the life of] these people in the slightest way,” says the Lord.
Go up to Gilead and obtain [healing] balm,O Virgin Daughter of Egypt!In vain you use many medicines;For you there is no healing or remedy.
“For behold, I will stir up and bring up against BabylonAn assembly of great nations from the north country.They will equip themselves and set up the battle lines against her;From there she will be taken captive.Their arrows will be like an expert warriorWho will not return empty-handed.
Thus says the Lord of hosts,“The broad wall of Babylon will be completely overthrown and the foundations razedAnd her high gates will be set on fire;The peoples will labor in vain,And the nations become exhausted [only] for fire [that will destroy their work].”
Then they will know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord; I have not said in vain that I would bring this disaster [as punishment] on them.”’
For the teraphim (household idols) speak wickedness (emptiness, worthlessness),And the diviners see lying visionsAnd tell false dreams;They comfort in vain.Therefore the people wander like sheep,They are afflicted and suffer because there is no shepherd.
‘They worship Me in vain [their worship is meaningless and worthless, a pretense],Teaching the precepts of men as doctrines [giving their traditions equal weight with the Scriptures].’
who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David, Your servant, said,‘Why did the nations (Gentiles) become arrogant and rage,And the peoples devise futile things [against the Lord]?
And Saul said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He answered, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,
“Men, why are you doing these things? We too are only men of the same nature as you, bringing the good news to you, so that you turn from these useless and meaningless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything that is in them.
And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew dialect (Jewish Aramaic) saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick [repeatedly] against the goads [offering pointless resistance].’
For even though they knew God [as the Creator], they did not honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation]. On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking [godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations], and their foolish heart was darkened.
For Christ did not send me [as an apostle] to baptize, but [commissioned and empowered me] to preach the good news [of salvation]—not with clever and eloquent speech [as an orator], so that the cross of Christ would not be made ineffective [deprived of its saving power].
and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain [useless, amounting to nothing], and your faith is also vain [imaginary, unfounded, devoid of value and benefit—not based on truth].
Working together with Him, we strongly urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain [by turning away from sound doctrine and His merciful kindness].
I went up [to Jerusalem] because of a [divine] revelation, and I put before them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles. But I did so in private before those of reputation, for fear that I might be running or had run [the course of my ministry] in vain.
I do not ignore or nullify the [gracious gift of the] grace of God [His amazing, unmerited favor], for if righteousness comes through [observing] the Law, then Christ died needlessly. [His suffering and death would have had no purpose whatsoever.]”
Have you suffered so many things and experienced so much all for nothing—if indeed it was all for nothing?
I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored [to the point of exhaustion] over you in vain.
holding out and offering to everyone the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to rejoice greatly because I did not run [my race] in vain nor labor without result.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception [pseudo-intellectual babble], according to the tradition [and musings] of mere men, following the elementary principles of this world, rather than following [the truth—the teachings of] Christ.
Some individuals have wandered away from these things into empty arguments and useless discussions,
O Timothy, guard and keep safe the deposit [of godly truth] entrusted to you, turn away from worldly and godless chatter [with its profane, empty words], and the contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge”—
But avoid all irreverent babble and godless chatter [with its profane, empty words], for it will lead to further ungodliness,
traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God,
For there are many rebellious men who are empty talkers [just windbags] and deceivers; especially those of the circumcision [those Jews who insist that Gentile believers must be circumcised and keep the Law in order to be saved].