Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. returned--namely, to the thought set forth
power--MAURER, not so well, "violence."
no comforter--twice said to express continued suffering without any
to give comfort
2. A profane sentiment if severed from its connection; but just in
its bearing on Solomon's scope. If religion were not taken into account
(Ec 3:17, 19),
to die as soon as possible would be desirable, so as not to suffer or
witness "oppressions"; and still more so, not to be born at all
(Job 3:12; 21:7),
all passed through the same perplexity, until they went into the
sanctuary, and looked beyond the present to the "judgment"
Hab 2:20; 3:17, 18).
Then they saw the need of delay, before completely punishing the
wicked, to give space for repentance, or else for accumulation of wrath
and before completely rewarding the godly, to give room for faith and
perseverance in tribulation
Earnests, however, are often even now given, by partial judgments of
the future, to assure us, in spite of difficulties, that God governs
3. not seen--nor experienced.
4. right--rather, "prosperous" (see on
Prosperity, which men so much covet, is the very source of provoking
and "envy," so far is it from constituting the chief good.
5. Still the
fool (the wicked oppressor) is not to be envied even in
this life, who "folds his hands together" in idleness
(Pr 6:10; 24:33),
living on the means he wrongfully wrests from others; for such a one
eateth his own flesh--that is, is a self-tormentor, never
satisfied, his spirit preying on itself
(Isa 9:20; 49:26).
6. Hebrew; "One open hand (palm) full of quietness, than
both closed hands full of travail." "Quietness" (mental tranquillity
flowing from honest labor), opposed to "eating one's own flesh"
also opposed to anxious labor to gain
Pr 15:16, 17; 16:8).
7. A vanity described in
8. not a second--no partner.
child--"son or brother," put for any heir
The miser would not be able to give an account of his infatuation.
9. Two--opposed to "one"
Ties of union, marriage, friendship, religious communion, are better
than the selfish solitariness of the miser
reward--Advantage accrues from their efforts being conjoined.
The Talmud says, "A man without a companion is like a left hand
without the right.
10. if they fall--if the one or other fall, as may happen to
both, namely, into any distress of body, mind, or soul.
11. (See on
The image is taken from man and wife, but applies universally to the
warm sympathy derived from social ties. So Christian ties
threefold cord--proverbial for a combination of many--for example,
husband, wife, and children
Col 2:2, 19).
Untwist the cord, and the separate threads are easily "broken."
13. The "threefold cord"
of social ties suggests the subject of civil government. In this
case too, he concludes that kingly power confers no lasting happiness.
The "wise" child, though a supposed case of Solomon, answers, in the
event foreseen by the Holy Ghost, to Jeroboam, then a poor but valiant
youth, once a "servant" of Solomon, and
appointed by God through the prophet Ahijah to be heir of the kingdom
of the ten tribes about to be rent from Rehoboam. The "old and foolish
king" answers to Solomon himself, who had lost his wisdom, when, in
defiance of two warnings of God
(1Ki 3:14; 9:2-9),
he forsook God.
will no more be admonished--knows not yet how to take warning (see
Margin) God had by Ahijah already intimated the judgment coming on
14. out of prison--Solomon uses this phrase of a supposed case; for
example, Joseph raised from a dungeon to be lord of Egypt. His words are
at the same time so framed by the Holy Ghost that they answer virtually
to Jeroboam, who fled to escape a "prison" and death from Solomon, to
Shishak of Egypt
This unconscious presaging of his own doom, and that of Rehoboam,
constitutes the irony. David's elevation from poverty and exile, under
Saul (which may have been before Solomon's mind), had so far their
counterpart in that of Jeroboam.
whereas . . . becometh poor--rather, "though he (the youth) was born
poor in his kingdom" (in the land where afterwards he was to reign).
15. "I considered all the living," the present generation, in relation
to ("with") the "second youth"
(the "legitimate successor" of the "old king," as opposed to the
"poor youth," the one first spoken of, about to be raised from
poverty to a throne), that is, Rehoboam.
in his stead--the old king's.
16. Notwithstanding their now worshipping the rising sun, the
heir-apparent, I reflected that "there were no bounds, no stability
(2Sa 15:6; 20:1),
no check on the love of innovation, of all that have been before them,"
that is, the past generation; so
also they that come after--that is, the next generation,
shall not rejoice in him--namely, Rehoboam. The parallel, "shall
not rejoice," fixes the sense of "no bounds," no permanent adherence,
though now men rejoice in