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1. returned--namely, to the thought set forth
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 (Ec 7:1). Job (Job 3:12; 21:7), David (Ps 73:3, &c.), Jeremiah (Jer 12:1), Habakkuk (Hab 1:13), all passed through the same perplexity, until they went into the sanctuary, and looked beyond the present to the "judgment" (Ps 73:17; 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 (Ro 2:15); and before completely rewarding the godly, to give room for faith and perseverance in tribulation (Ps 92:7-12). Earnests, however, are often even now given, by partial judgments of the future, to assure us, in spite of difficulties, that God governs the earth.
3. not seen--nor experienced.
5. Still the
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" (Ec 4:5), also opposed to anxious labor to gain (Ec 4:8; Pr 15:16, 17; 16:8).
9. Two--opposed to "one"
Ties of union, marriage, friendship, religious communion, are better
than the selfish solitariness of the miser
10. if they fall--if the one or other fall, as may happen to both, namely, into any distress of body, mind, or soul.
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.
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.
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.
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