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1. (See on
2. Proving that it is not a sensual enjoyment of earthly goods which is meant in Ec 3:13; 5:18. A thankful use of these is right, but frequent feasting Solomon had found dangerous to piety in his own case. So Job's fear (Ec 1:4, 5). The house of feasting often shuts out thoughts of God and eternity. The sight of the dead in the "house of mourning" causes "the living" to think of their own "end."
3. Sorrow--such as arises from serious thoughts of eternity.
5. (Ps 141:4, 5). Godly reproof offends the flesh, but benefits the spirit. Fools' songs in the house of mirth please the flesh, but injure the soul.
6. crackling--answers to the loud merriment of fools. It is the very fire consuming them which produces the seeming merry noise (Joe 2:5). Their light soon goes out in the black darkness. There is a paronomasia in the Hebrew, Sirim ("thorns"), Sir ("pot"). The wicked are often compared to "thorns" (2Sa 23:6; Na 1:10). Dried cow-dung was the common fuel in Palestine; its slowness in burning makes the quickness of a fire of thorns the more graphic, as an image of the sudden end of fools (Ps 118:12).
7. oppression--recurring to the idea
(Ec 3:16; 5:8).
Its connection with
is, the sight of "oppression" perpetrated by "fools" might tempt the
"wise" to call in question God's dispensations, and imitate the folly
(equivalent to "madness") described
WEISS, for "oppression," translates,
"distraction," produced by merriment. But
favors English Version.
8. connected with Ec 7:7. Let the "wise" wait for "the end," and the "oppressions" which now (in "the beginning") perplex their faith, will be found by God's working to be overruled to their good. "Tribulation worketh patience" (Ro 5:3), which is infinitely better than "the proud spirit" that prosperity might have generated in them, as it has in fools (Ps 73:2, 3, 12-14, 17-26; Jas 5:11).
10. Do not call in question God's ways in making thy former days better than thy present, as Job did (Job 29:2-5). The very putting of the question argues that heavenly "wisdom" (Margin) is not as much as it ought made the chief good with thee.
11. Rather, "Wisdom, as compared with an inheritance, is good," that is, is as good as an inheritance; "yea, better (literally, and a profit) to them that see the sun" (that is, the living, Ec 11:7; Job 3:16; Ps 49:19).
12. Literally, (To be) in (that is, under) the shadow
of wisdom (is the same as to be) in (under) the shadow of money;
wisdom no less shields one from the ills of life than money
13. Consider as to God's work, that it is impossible to alter
His dispensations; for who can, &c.
14. consider--resumed from
"Consider," that is, regard it as "the work of God"; for "God has made
(Hebrew, for 'set') this (adversity) also as well as the other
(prosperity)." "Adversity" is one of the things which "God has made
crooked," and which man cannot "make straight." He ought therefore to
15. An objection entertained by Solomon
16. HOLDEN makes
the scoffing inference of the objector, and
the answer of Solomon, now repentant. So
the skeptic's objection;
the answer. However, "Be not righteous over much," may be taken as
Solomon's words, forbidding a self-made righteousness of outward
performances, which would wrest salvation from God, instead of
receiving it as the gift of His grace. It is a fanatical,
pharisaical righteousness, separated from God; for the "fear of God" is
in antithesis to it
(Ec 7:18; 5:3, 7;
Mt 6:1-7; 9:14; 23:23, 24;
17. over much wicked--so worded, to answer to "righteous over much." For if not taken thus, it would seem to imply that we may be wicked a little. "Wicked" refers to "wicked man" (Ec 7:15); "die before thy time," to "prolongeth his life," antithetically. There may be a wicked man spared to "live long," owing to his avoiding gross excesses (Ec 7:15). Solomon says, therefore, Be not so foolish (answering antithetically to "over wise," Ec 7:16), as to run to such excess of riot, that God will be provoked to cut off prematurely thy day of grace (Ro 2:5). The precept is addressed to a sinner. Beware of aggravating thy sin, so as to make thy case desperate. It refers to the days of Solomon's "vanity" (apostasy, Ec 7:15), when only such a precept would be applicable. By litotes it includes, "Be not wicked at all."
18. this . . . this--the two opposite excesses
(Ec 7:16, 17),
fanatical, self-wise righteousness, and presumptuous, foolhardy
19. Hebrew, "The wisdom," that is, the true wisdom, religion
20. Referring to Ec 7:16. Be not "self-righteous," seek not to make thyself "just" before God by a superabundance of self-imposed performances; "for true 'wisdom,' or 'righteousness,' shows that there is not a just man," &c.
21. As therefore thou being far from perfectly "just" thyself, hast much to be forgiven by God, do not take too strict account, as the self-righteous do (Ec 7:16; Lu 18:9, 11), and thereby shorten their lives (Ec 7:15, 16), of words spoken against thee by others, for example, thy servant: Thou art their "fellow servant" before God (Mt 18:32-35).
22. (1Ki 2:44).
23. All this--resuming the "all" in
is therefore the fruit of his dearly bought experience in the days of
25. Literally, "I turned myself and mine heart to." A phrase peculiar
to Ecclesiastes, and appropriate to the penitent turning back to
commune with his heart on his past life.
26. "I find" that, of all my sinful follies, none has been so
ruinous a snare in seducing me from God as idolatrous women
(1Ki 11:3, 4;
Pr 5:3, 4; 22:14).
As "God's favor is better than life," she who seduces from God is "more
bitter than death."
27. this--namely, what follows in
28. Rather, referring to his past experience, "Which my
soul sought further, but I found not."