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1. common--or else more literally,--"great upon man," falls heavily upon man.
2. for his soul--that is, his enjoyment.
3. Even if a man (of this character) have very many (equivalent to "a hundred," 2Ki 10:1) children, and not have a "stranger" as his heir (Ec 6:2), and live long ("days of years" express the brevity of life at its best, Ge 47:9), yet enjoy no real "good" in life, and lie unhonored, without "burial," at death (2Ki 9:26, 35), the embryo is better than he. In the East to be without burial is the greatest degradation. "Better the fruit that drops from the tree before it is ripe than that left to hang on till rotten" [HENRY].
4. he--rather "it," "the untimely birth." So "its," not "his name."
5. this--yet "it has more rest than" the toiling, gloomy miser.
6. If the miser's length of "life" be thought to raise him above the abortive, Solomon answers that long life, without enjoying real good, is but lengthened misery, and riches cannot exempt him from going whither "all go." He is fit neither for life, nor death, nor eternity.
7. man--rather, "the man," namely, the miser
For not all men labor for the mouth, that is, for selfish
8. For--"However" [MAURER].
The "for" means (in contrast to the
insatiability of the miser), For what else is the advantage which
the wise man hath above the fool?"
9. Answer to the question in
This is the advantage:
10. Part II begins here. Since man's toils are vain, what is the
The answer is contained in the rest of the book.
11. "Seeing" that man cannot escape from the "vanity," which by God's
"mighty" will is inherent in earthly things, and cannot
call in question God's wisdom in these dispensations (equivalent to
12. For who knoweth, &c.--The ungodly know not what is really "good" during life, nor "what shall be after them," that is, what will be the event of their undertakings (Ec 3:22; 8:7). The godly might be tempted to "contend with God" (Ec 6:10) as to His dispensations; but they cannot fully know the wise purposes served by them now and hereafter. Their sufferings from the oppressors are more really good for them than cloudless prosperity; sinners are being allowed to fill up their measure of guilt. Retribution in part vindicates God's ways even now. The judgment shall make all clear. In Ec 7:1-29, he states what is good, in answer to this verse.