1:1 The words of the a Preacher, the son of David, king of
The Argument - Solomon as a preacher and one that desired to
instruct all in the way of salvation, describes the
deceivable vanities of this world: that man should not be
addicted to anything under the sun, but rather inflamed with
the desire of the heavenly life: therefore he confutes their
opinions, which set their happiness either in knowledge or
in pleasures, or in dignity and riches, wishing that man's
true happiness consists in that he is united with God and
will enjoy his presence: so that all other things must be
rejected, save in as much as they further us to attain to
this heavenly treasure, which is sure and permanent, and
cannot be found in any other save in God alone.
(a) Solomon is here called a preacher, or one who assembles
the people, because he teaches the true knowledge of
God, and how men ought to pass their life in this
1:2b Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of
vanities; all [is] vanity.
(b) He condemns the opinions of all men who set happiness in
anything but in God alone, seeing that in this world all
things are as vanity and nothing.
1:3 What profit hath a man of all his c labour which he taketh
under the sun?
(c) Solomon does not condemn man's labour or diligence, but
shows that there is no full contentment in anything
under the heavens, nor in any creature, as all things
1:4 [One] generation passeth away, and [another] generation
cometh: but the earth abideth for d ever.
(d) One man dies after another, and the earth remains
longest, even to the last day, which yet is subject to
1:6 The e wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about to
the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind
returneth again according to its circuits.
(e) By the sun, wind and rivers, he shows that the greatest
labour and longest has an end, and therefore there can
be no happiness in this world.
1:7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea [is] not full;
to the place from f which the rivers come, there they
(f) The sea which compasses all the earth, fills the veins
of it which pour out springs and rivers into the sea
1:9g The thing that hath been, it [is that] which shall be;
and that which is done [is] that which shall be done: and
[there is] no new [thing] under the sun.
(g) He speaks of times and seasons, and things done in them,
which as they have been in times past, so come they to
1:12h I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
(h) He proves that if any could have attained happiness in
this world by labour and study, he should have obtained
it, because he had gifts and aids from God to it above
1:13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom
concerning all [things] that are done under heaven: this
grievous labour hath God given to the sons of man i to be
exercised with it.
(i) Man by nature has a desire to know, and yet is not able
to come to the perfection of knowledge, which is the
punishment of sin, to humble man, and to teach him to
depend only on God.
1:15 [That which is] k crooked cannot be made straight: and
that which is lacking cannot be numbered.
(k) Man is not able by all his diligence to cause things to
go other than they do: neither can he number the faults
that are committed, much less remedy them.
1:17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know l madness
and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of
(l) That is, vain things, which served to pleasure, in
which was no convenience, but grief and trouble of
1:18 For in much wisdom [is] much m grief: and he that
increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
(m) Wisdom and knowledge cannot be come by without great
pain of body and mind: for when a man has attained the
highest, yet is his mind never fully content: therefore
in this world is no true happiness.