1. returned—namely, to the thought set
forth (Ec 3:16; Job 35:9).
power—Maurer, not so well, "violence."
no comforter—twice said to express
continued suffering without any to give comfort (Isa 53:7).
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
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.
4. right—rather, "prosperous" (see on Ec 2:21). Prosperity, which men so much covet, is
the very source of provoking oppression (Ec 4:1) 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
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;
7. A vanity described in Ec 4:8.
8. not a second—no partner.
child—"son or brother," put for any
eye—(Ec 1:8). The miser would not be able to give an
account of his infatuation.
9. Two—opposed to "one" (Ec 4:8). Ties of union, marriage, friendship,
religious communion, are better than the selfish solitariness of the
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 1Ki 1:1).
The image is taken from man and wife, but applies universally to the
warm sympathy derived from social ties. So Christian ties (Lu
24:32; Ac 28:15).
threefold cord—proverbial for a
combination of many—for example, husband, wife, and
children (Pr 11:14);
so Christians (Lu 10:1; Col 2:2, 19). Untwist the cord, and the separate
threads are easily "broken."
13. The "threefold cord" [Ec 4:12] 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 (1Ki 11:26-40) 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
3:14; 9:2-9), he forsook
will no more be admonished—knows not
yet how to take warning (see Margin) God had by Ahijah already
intimated the judgment coming on Solomon (1Ki 11:11-13).
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 (1Ki 11:40). 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
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