Ecclesiastes 3:10
I have seen the travail, which God has given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Ecclesiastes 3:10. I have seen the travail, &c. — I have diligently observed men’s various employments, and the different successes of them. Which God hath given, &c. — Which God hath imposed upon men as their duty; to which therefore men ought quietly to submit. To be exercised — That hereby they might have constant matter of exercise for their diligence, and patience, and submission to God’s will and providence.3:1-10 To expect unchanging happiness in a changing world, must end in disappointment. To bring ourselves to our state in life, is our duty and wisdom in this world. God's whole plan for the government of the world will be found altogether wise, just, and good. Then let us seize the favourable opportunity for every good purpose and work. The time to die is fast approaching. Thus labour and sorrow fill the world. This is given us, that we may always have something to do; none were sent into the world to be idle.Rend - i. e., Tear garments in sign of mourning or anger. See 2 Samuel 1:2, 2 Samuel 1:11 ff. 10. (See on [656]Ec 1:13). I have seen, I have diligently observed and considered upon this occasion,

the travail, or the occupation or business, men’s various employments, and the differing successes of them,

which God hath given to the sons of men; either,

1. Which God hath imposed upon men as their duty; and therefore men must labour, although it brings them no profit, as was now said. Or,

2. Which God hath inflicted upon mankind as a just punishment for their sins; to which therefore men ought quietly to submit.

To be exercised in it; that hereby they might have constant matter of exercise for their diligence, and patience, and submission to God’s will and providence, and for all other graces. Or, that they might be afflicted or humbled therewith, as the same phrase is rendered by divers, Ecclesiastes 1:13. I have seen the travail which God hath given to the sons of men,.... The pains and trouble they are at to get a little wisdom and knowledge, Ecclesiastes 1:13; and so to obtain riches and honour, peace and plenty, which sometimes they do obtain, and sometimes not; and when they do, do not keep them long, for there is a time for everything. This the wise man had observed, in a variety of instances; and he considered the end of God in it, which was for men

to be exercised in it, or "by it"; or "to afflict" or "humble them by it" (l); to let them see that all their toil and labour signified little; all depended on a divine blessing, and no happiness was to be had in the creatures; all was vanity and vexation of spirit; See Gill on Ecclesiastes 1:13.

(l) "ad affligendum se in ea", Montanus; "ut eos adfligat in ea, sc. per eam", Rambachius; "ut ea redderet humiles", Tigurine version.

I have seen the labour, which God hath given to the sons of men {b} to be exercised in it.

(b) Read Ec 1:13.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. I have seen the travail, which God hath given] Better perhaps, I have seen the labour, or the business. As before, in the preceding verse, the thinker, once back in the old groove of thought, repeats himself, and we have the very words of ch. Ecclesiastes 1:13, but, as before, here also developed by a wider experience. In this feeling after the right “season” for each act, this craving for a harmony between man’s will and the divine order, he recognises a divinely implanted instinct which yet finds no full satisfaction.Verses 10-15. - There is a plan and system in all the circumstances of man's life; he feels this instinctively, but he cannot comprehend it. His duty is to make the best of the present, and to recognize the immutability of the law that governs all things. Verse 10. - I have seen the travail which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it; i.e. to busy themselves therewith (Ecclesiastes 1:13). This travail, exercise, or business is the work that has to be done under the conditions prescribed of time and season in face of the difficulty of man's free action and God's ordering. We take infinite pains, we entertain ample desires, and strive restlessly to carry them out, but our efforts are controlled by a higher law, and results occur in the way and at the time arranged by Providence. Human labor, though it is appointed by God and is part of man's heritage imposed upon him by the Fall (Genesis 3:17, etc.), cannot bring contentment or satisfy the spirit's cravings. "To weep has its time, and to laugh has its time; to mourn has its time, and to dance has its time." It is possible that the author was led by the consonance from livnoth to livkoth, which immediately follows it; but the sequence of the thoughts is at the same time inwardly mediated, for sorrow kills and joy enlivens, Sir. 32:21-24. ספוד is particularly lamentation for the dead, Zechariah 12:10; and רקוד, dancing (in the more modern language the usual word for hholēl, kirkēr, hhāgǎg) at a marriage festival and on other festal occasions.

It is more difficult to say what leads the author to the two following pairs of contrasts: -

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