Ecclesiastes 3:9
What profit has he that works in that wherein he labors?
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Ecclesiastes 3:9. What profit hath he that worketh, &c. — Seeing then all events are out of man’s power, and no man can do or enjoy any thing at his pleasure, but only when God pleaseth, as has been shown in many particulars, and is as true and certain in all others, hence it follows that all men’s labours, without God’s blessing, are unprofitable, and utterly insufficient to make them happy.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. 9. But these earthly pursuits, while lawful in their season, are "unprofitable" when made by man, what God never intended them to be, the chief good. Solomon had tried to create an artificial forced joy, at times when he ought rather to have been serious; the result, therefore, of his labor to be happy, out of God's order, was disappointment. "A time to plant" (Ec 3:2) refers to his planting (Ec 2:5); "laugh" (Ec 3:4), to Ec 2:1, 2; "his mirth," "laughter"; "build up," "gather stones" (Ec 3:3, 5), to his "building" (Ec 2:4); "embrace," "love," to his "princess" (see on [655]Ec 2:8); "get" (perhaps also "gather," Ec 3:5, 6), to his "gathering" (Ec 2:8). All these were of "no profit," because not in God's time and order of bestowing happiness. Seeing then all actions and events in the world are out of man’s power, and no man can at any time do or enjoy any thing at his pleasure, but only what and when God pleaseth, as hath been now shown in many particulars, and it is as true and certain in all others, hence it follows that all men’s labours, of themselves, and without God’s help and blessing, are unprofitable, and utterly insufficient to make them happy. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? That is, he has none. This is an inference drawn from the above premises, and confirms what has been before observed, Ecclesiastes 1:3; Man has no profit of his labour, since his time is so short to enjoy it, and he leaves it to another, he knows not who; and, while he lives, is attended with continual vicissitudes and changes; sometimes it is a time for one thing, and sometimes for its contrary, so that there is nothing certain, and to be depended on; and a man can promise himself nothing in this world pleasant or profitable to him, and much less that will be of any advantage to him hereafter. The Targum adds,

"to make treasures and gather mammon, unless he is helped by Providence above;''

though it is man's duty to labour, yet all his toil and labour will be fruitless without a divine blessing; there is a time and season for everything in providence, and there is no striving against that.

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
9. What profit hath he that worketh?] The long induction is completed, and yet is followed by the same despairing question as that of ch. Ecclesiastes 1:3, asked as from a stand-point that commands a wider horizon. Does not this very thought of a right season for every action increase the difficulty of acting? Who can be sure that he has found the season? The chances of failure are greater than the chances of success.Verse 9. - If thus man, in all his actions and under all circumstances, depends upon time and seasons which are beyond his control, we return to the same desponding question already asked in Ecclesiastes 1:3. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth? The preceding enumeration leads up to this question, to which the answer is "None." Since time and tide wait for no man, since man cannot know for certain his opportunity, he cannot reckon on reaping any advantage from his labor. "To put to death has its time, and to heal has its time; to pull down has its time, and to build has its time." That harog (to kill) is placed over against "to heal," Hitzig explains by the remark that harog does not here include the full consequences of the act, and is fitly rendered by "to wound." But "to put to death" is nowhere equals "nearly to put to death," - one who is harug is not otherwise to be healed than by resurrection from the dead, Ezekiel 37:6. The contrast has no need for such ingenuity to justify it. The striking down of a sound life stands in contrast to the salvation of an endangered life by healing, and this in many situations of life, particularly in war, in the administration of justice, and in the defence of innocence against murder or injury, may be fitting. Since the author does not present these details from a moral point of view, the time here is not that which is morally right, but that which, be it morally right or not, has been determined by God, the Governor of the world and Former of history, who makes even that which is evil subservient to His plan. With the two pairs of γένεσις καὶ φθορά there are two others associated in Ecclesiastes 3:3; with that, having reference, 2b, to the vegetable world, there here corresponds one referring to buildings; to פּרוץ (synon. הרוס, Jeremiah 1:10) stands opposed בּנות (which is more than גּדור), as at 2 Chronicles 32:5.

These contrasts between existence and non-existence are followed by contrasts within the limits of existence itself: -

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