"There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt" (Ecclesiastes 5:13).
In this passage we have an irony indeed. Solomon was immensely rich, for God had promised him "I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honor, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like" (II Chronicles 1:12). Yet he warns those who legitimately became wealthy that there is a "hurt" in keeping their own riches.
The first harm that can come from not giving away the blessings from above is that God may cease blessing. Solomon detailed this in Proverbs 11:24, "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty." God often entrusts men with riches specifically so they can be a conduit to meet the needs of others.
A second harm is highlighted by Christ's encounter with the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:21: "Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." The Bible records that his money was such a snare that he left the Lord and the heavenly treasure being offered to enjoy his earthly riches.
A third harm is given in the same passage as our text. Verse 12 states "The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep." Those that hoard things will not only miss the blessing of giving, but will often experience an increased anxiety with the maintenance of excess possessions. The simple joys of salvation and service, friends and family, and contentment with our portion is worth more than all the riches this world affords. DW