1. (See on Ec 6:12).
name—character; a godly mind and life;
not mere reputation with man, but what a man is in the
eyes of God, with whom the name and reality are one thing
9:6). This alone is "good,"
while all else is "vanity" when made the chief end.
ointment—used lavishly at costly
banquets and peculiarly refreshing in the sultry East. The
Hebrew for "name" and for "ointment," have a happy paronomasia,
Sheem and Shemen. "Ointment" is fragrant only in the
place where the person is whose head and garment are scented, and only
for a time. The "name" given by God to His child (Re 3:12) is for ever and in all lands. So in the
case of the woman who received an everlasting name from Jesus Christ,
in reward for her precious ointment (Isa 56:5; Mr 14:3-9). Jesus Christ Himself hath such a name,
as the Messiah, equivalent to Anointed (So 1:3).
and the day of [his] death,
&c.—not a general censure upon God for creating man; but,
connected with the previous clause, death is to him, who hath a godly
name, "better" than the day of his birth; "far better," as Php 1:23 has it.
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.
laughter—reckless mirth (Ec 2:2).
by the sadness … better—(Ps 126:5, 6; 2Co 4:17; Heb 12:10, 11). Maurer
translates: "In sadness of countenance there is (may be) a good
(cheerful) heart." So Hebrew, for "good," equivalent to
"cheerful" (Ec 11:9); but
the parallel clause supports English Version.
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
3:16; 5:8). Its connection
7:4-6 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 (Ec 7:5,6).
Weiss, for "oppression," translates,
"distraction," produced by merriment. But Ec 5:8 favors English Version.
a gift—that is, the sight of
bribery in "places of judgment" (Ec 3:16) might cause the wise to lose their
wisdom (equivalent to "heart"), (Job 12:6; 21:6, 7; 24:1, &c.). This suits the
parallelism better than "a heart of gifts"; a benevolent heart, as
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
9. angry—impatient at adversity
befalling thee, as Job was (Ec 5:2; Pr 12:16).
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 (Isa 30:2) 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
is, that—rather, "the excellency of
the knowledge of wisdom giveth life," that is, life in the
highest sense, here and hereafter (Pr 3:18; Joh 17:3; 2Pe
1:3). Wisdom (religion)
cannot be lost as money can. It shields one in adversity, as
well as prosperity; money, only in prosperity. The question in Ec 7:10 implies a want of it.
13. Consider as to God's work,
that it is impossible to alter His dispensations; for who can,
straight … crooked—Man cannot
amend what God wills to be "wanting" and "adverse" (Ec 1:15; Job
14. consider—resumed from Ec 7:13. "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 be "patient" (Ec 7:8).
after him—equivalent to "that man may
not find anything (to blame) after God" (that is, after
"considering God's work," Ec 7:13).
Vulgate and Syriac, "against Him" (compare Ec 7:10; Ro
15. An objection entertained by Solomon
in the days of his vanity—his apostasy
8:14; Job 21:7).
just … perisheth—(1Ki 21:13). Temporal not eternal death
10:28). But see on Ec 7:16; "just" is probably a
wicked … prolongeth—See the
antidote to the abuse of this statement in Ec 8:12.
7:16 the scoffing inference
of the objector, and Ec 7:17 the
answer of Solomon, now repentant. So (1Co 15:32) the skeptic's objection; (1Co 15:33) 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; Ro
10:3; 1Ti 4:3).
over wise—(Job 11:12;
Ro 12:3, 16), presumptuously
self-sufficient, as if acquainted with the whole of divine truth.
destroy thyself—expose thyself to
needless persecution, austerities and the wrath of God; hence to an
untimely death. "Destroy thyself" answers to "perisheth" (Ec 7:15); "righteous over much," to "a just
man." Therefore in Ec 7:15 it is
self-justiciary, not a truly righteous man, that is meant.
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
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
18. this … this—the two opposite
excesses (Ec 7:16, 17), fanatical, self-wise righteousness,
and presumptuous, foolhardy wickedness.
he that feareth God shall come forth of them
all—shall escape all such extremes (Pr 3:7).
19. Hebrew, "The wisdom," that is, the
true wisdom, religion (2Ti 3:15).
than ten mighty—that is, able and
valiant generals (Ec 7:12; 9:13-18; Pr 21:22;
24:5). These "watchmen wake
in vain, except the Lord keep the city" (Ps 127:1).
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 Ec
7:15; Ec 7:15-22 is therefore
the fruit of his dearly bought experience in the days of his
I will be wise—I tried to "be wise,"
independently of God. But true wisdom was then "far from him," in spite
of his human wisdom, which he retained by God's gift. So "over
24. That … far off …
deep—True wisdom is so when sought independently of "fear of
God" (Ec 7:18; De 30:12, 13;
Job 11:7, 8; 28:12-20, 28; Ps 64:6; Ro 10:6, 7).
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
wickedness of folly—He is now a step
further on the path of penitence than in Ec 1:17; 2:12, where "folly" is put without
reason—rather, "the right estimation"
of things. Holden translates also
"foolishness (that is, sinful folly, answering to 'wickedness' in the
parallel) of madness" (that is, of man's mad pursuits).
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."
whoso pleaseth God—as Joseph (Ge 39:2, 3,
9). It is God's grace
alone that keeps any from falling.
27. this—namely, what follows in Ec 7:28.
counting one by one—by comparing one
thing with another [Holden and Maurer].
account—a right estimate. But Ec 7:28 more favors Gesenius. "Considering women one by one."
28. Rather, referring to his past
experience, "Which my soul sought further, but I found
one man—that is, worthy of the name,
"man," "upright"; not more than one in a thousand of my courtiers
(Job 33:23; Ps 12:1). Jesus Christ alone of men fully
realizes the perfect ideal of "man." "Chiefest among ten thousand"
5:10). No perfect
"woman" has ever existed, not even the Virgin Mary. Solomon, in the
word "thousand," alludes to his three hundred wives and seven hundred
concubines. Among these it was not likely that he should find the
fidelity which one true wife pays to one husband.
Connected with Ec 7:26, not
an unqualified condemnation of the sex, as Pr 12:4;
31:10, &c., prove.
29. The "only" way of accounting for the
scarcity of even comparatively upright men and women is that, whereas
God made man upright, they (men) have, &c. The only account to be
"found" of the origin of evil, the great mystery of theology, is that
given in Holy Writ (Ge 2:1-3:24). Among man's "inventions" was the one
especially referred to in Ec 7:26, the
bitter fruits of which Solomon experienced, the breaking of God's
primeval marriage law, joining one man to "one" woman (Mt 19:4, 5, 6). "Man" is singular,
namely, Adam; "they," plural, Adam, Eve, and their