View Ecclesiastes 2 in the note window.
Solomon shews, that there is no true happiness to be had in mirth
and the pleasures of sense, ver. 1 - 11.
He considers wisdom again, and owns it to be an excellent thing,
and yet insufficient to give happiness, ver. 12 - 16.
He shews that business and wealth are only vanity and vexation of
spirit, ver. 17 - 23.
And that if there be any good therein, it is only to these who sit
loose to them, ver. 24 - 26.
1: I said - Being disappointed of my hopes from knowledge, I resolved
to try another course. Go to - O my soul! I will try whether I cannot
make thee happy, by the enjoyment of sensual delights. Vanity - Is vain,
and unable to make men happy.
2: It is mad - This is an act of madness, more fit for fools who know
nothing, than for wise men in this sinful, and dangerous, and deplorable
state of mankind. What doth it - What good doth it? Or how can it make
men happy? I challenge all the Epicures in the world to give me a solid
3: To wine - To gratify myself with delicious meats and drinks.
Yet - Yet resolving to use my wisdom, that I might try whether I could
not arrive at satisfaction, by mixing wine and wisdom together.
To lay hold - To pursue sensual pleasures, which was my folly.
'Till - 'Till I might find out the true way to contentment and
satisfaction, during this mortal life.
6: The wood - The nurseries of young trees, which for the multitude
of them were like a wood or forest.
8: Peculiar treasure - The greatest jewels and rarities of other
kings, which they gave to me, either as a tribute, or by way of present.
Of provinces - Which were imposed upon or presented by all the provinces
of my dominions.
9: Great - In riches, and power, and glory. My wisdom remained - As
yet I was not wholly seduced from God.
10: And - Whatsoever was grateful to my senses. Rejoiced - I had
the comfort of all my labours, and was not hindered from the full
enjoyment of them by sickness or war, or any other calamity.
My portion - This present enjoyment of them, was all the benefit which
I could expect from all my labours. So that I made the best of them.
11: Vexation - I found myself wholly dissatisfied. No profit - The
pleasure was past, and I was never the better for it, but as empty as
12: I turned - Being frustrated of my hopes in pleasure, I returned
to a second consideration of my first choice, to see whether there was
not more satisfaction to be gotten from wisdom, than I discovered at my
first view. Done - As by others, so especially by myself. They can make
no new discoveries as to this point. They can make no more of the pleasures
of sense than I have done. Let me then try once more, whether wisdom can
13: I saw - I allowed thus much. Although wisdom is not sufficient to
make men happy, yet it is of a far greater use than vain pleasures, or any
14: Head - In their proper place. He hath the use of his eyes and
reason, and foresees, and so avoids many dangers and mischiefs.
Yet - Notwithstanding this excellency of wisdom above folly, at last they
both come to one end. Both are subject to the same calamities, and to
death itself, which takes away all difference between them.
15: Why - What benefit have I by my wisdom?
16: For - Their memory, though it may flourish for a season, yet will
in a little time be worn out; as we see it, most of the wise men of former
ages, whose very names, together with all their monuments, are utterly lost.
As the fool - He must die as certainly as the fool.
17: Life - My life was a burden to me. Is grievous - All human
designs and works are so far from yielding me satisfaction, that the
consideration of them increases my discontent.
18: All my labour - All these riches and buildings, and other fruits
of my labour, were aggravations of my misery. Because - Because I must,
and that everlastingly, leave them all behind me.
19: Or a fool - Who will undo all that I have done, and turn the
effects of my wisdom into instruments of his folly. Some think he had
such an opinion of Rehoboam.
20: Despair - I gave myself up to despair of ever reaping that
satisfaction which I promised to myself.
21: Wisdom - Who uses great industry, and prudence, and justice too,
in the use and management of his affairs. To a man - Who has spent his
days in sloth and folly. A great evil - A great disorder in itself, and
a great torment to a considering mind.
22: For what - What comfort or benefit remains to any man after this
short and frail life is once ended?
23: Sorrows - Full of sorrows. Tho' he took great and unwearied
pains all his days, yet the toils of his body were accompanied with
vexation of mind. His heart - Because his sleep was broken with
24: Enjoy - That he should thankfully take, and freely and chearfully
enjoy the comforts which God gives him. It was - A singular gift of God.
25: More than I - Therefore he could best tell whether they were able
of themselves, without God's special gift, to yield a man content, in the
enjoying of them. Who can pursue them with more diligence, obtain them
with more readiness, or embrace them with more greediness?
26: Wisdom - To direct him how to use his comforts aright; that so
they may be blessings, and not curses to him. Joy - A thankful contented
mind. To heap up - He giveth him up to insatiable desires, and wearisome
labours, that he may leave it to others, yea to such as he least desired,
to good and virtuous men.