The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleEcclesiastes 4:4
Again I considered all travail, and every right work…
pains that men take to do right works. Some apply themselves, with
great diligence and industry, to the study of the liberal arts and
sciences; and to attain the knowledge of languages; and to writing
books, for the improvement of those things, and the good of mankind:
and others employ themselves in mechanic arts, and excel in them, and
bring their works to great perfection and accuracy; when they might
expect to be praised and commended, and have thanks given them by men.
But instead thereof, so it is,
that for this a man is envied of his neighbour;
who will be sure to
find fault with what he has done, speak contemptibly of him and his
work, and traduce him among men. This is also true of moral works;
which are right, when done from a right principle, from love to God, in
faith, and with a view to the glory of God; and which when done, and
ever so well done, draw upon a man the envy of the wicked, as may be
observed in the case of Cain and Abel, (1 John 3:12) ; though some
understand this, not passively, of the envy which is brought upon a
man, and he endures, for the sake of the good he excels in; but
actively, of the spirit of emulation with which he does it; though the
work he does, as to the matter of it, is right; yet the manner of doing
it, and the spirit with which he does it, are wrong; he does not do it
with any good affection to the thing itself, nor with any good design,
only from a spirit of emulation to outdo his neighbour: so the Targum
``this is the emulation that a man emulates his neighbour, to
do as he; if he emulates him to do good, the heavenly Word
does good to him; but if he emulates him to do evil, the
heavenly Word does evil to him;''
and to this sense Jarchi; compare with this, (Philippians 1:15-18) .
This [is] also vanity, and vexation of spirit;
whether it be understood
in the one sense or the other; how dissatisfying and vexatious is it,
when a man has taken a great deal of pains to do right works for public
good, instead of having thanks and praise, is reproached and
calumniated for it? and if he does a right thing, and yet has not right
ends and views in it, it stands for nothing; it has only the appearance
of good, but is not truly so, and yields no solid peace and comfort.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 4:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=ec&chapter=004&verse=004>. 1999.