View Ecclesiastes 4 in the note window.
The misery of the oppressed and the oppressor, ver. 1 - 3.
Of being envied, which occasions sloth in others, ver. 4 - 6.
The folly of hoarding up wealth, ver. 7, 8.
The benefit of society, ver. 9 - 12.
The mutability even of the royal dignity, thro' the foolishness of the
prince, and the fickleness of the people ver. 13 - 16.
1: I returned - I considered again. Oppressions - Whether by
princes, magistrates, or other potent persons. No comforter - None
afforded them pity or succour. But they, &c. - No comfort therein.
2: I praised - I judged them less miserable. For this is certain,
that setting aside the future life, which Solomon doth not meddle with
in the present debate; and considering the uncertainty, and vanity, and
manifold calamities of the present life, a wise man would not account it
worth his while to live.
3: Better is he - Who was never born. Not seen - Not felt: for
as seeing good is put for enjoying it, so seeing evil is put for
4: Right work - All the worthy designs of virtuous men.
Envied - Instead of honour, he meets with envy and obloquy.
5: The fool - Is careless and idle: perceiving that diligence is
attended with envy, he runs into the other extreme. Eateth - Wastes his
substance, and brings himself to poverty, whereby his very flesh pines
away for want of bread.
6: Better - These are the words of the sluggard, making this apology
for his idleness, That his little with ease, is better than great riches
got with much trouble.
8: Alone - Who has none but himself to care for. Brother - To whom
he may leave his vast estate. Yet - He lives in perpetual restlessness
and toil. For whom - Having no kindred to enjoy it. And bereave - Deny
myself those comforts and conveniences which God hath allowed me?
A sore travel - A dreadful judgment, as well as a great sin.
9: Two - Who live together in any kind of society. Because - Both
have great benefit by such conjunction, whereby they support, encourage,
and strengthen one another.
10: They - One of them. Fall - Into any mistake, or sin, or danger.
12: Prevail - Against either of them.
13: Better - More happy. Now he proceeds to another vanity,
That of honour and power. Than a king - Who hath neither wisdom
to govern himself, nor to receive the counsels of wiser men.
14: For he - The poor and wise child is often advanced to the highest
dignity. Whereas - That old king is deprived of his kingdom.
15: I considered - The general disposition of common people, in
all kingdoms, that they are fickle and inconstant. With the second
child - This may be understood of the king's child, or son and heir,
called second, in respect of his father, whose successor he is.
Stand up - Arise to reign.
16: No end - This humour of the common people hath no end, but passes
from one generation to another. Before them - Before the present
generation. And so here are three generations of people noted, the
authors of the present change, and their parents, and their children;
and all are observed to have the same inclinations. In him - They shall
be as weary of the successor, though a wise and worthy prince, as their
parents were of his foolish predecessor.