|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:12-17 Solomon found that knowledge and prudence were preferable to ignorance and folly, though human wisdom and knowledge will not make a man happy. The most learned of men, who dies a stranger to Christ Jesus, will perish equally with the most ignorant; and what good can commendations on earth do to the body in the grave, or the soul in hell? And the spirits of just men made perfect cannot want them. So that if this were all, we might be led to hate our life, as it is all vanity and vexation of spirit.
Verse 13. - Then (and) I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness; or, there is profit, advantage (περίσσεια Septuagint, Ecclesiastes 1:3) to wisdom over folly, as the advantage of light over darkness. This result, at any rate, was obtained - he learned that wisdom had a certain value, that it was as much superior to folly, in its effects on men, as light is more beneficial than darkness. It is a natural metaphor to represent spiritual and intellectual development as light, and mental and moral depravity as darkness (comp. Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then I sat that wisdom excelleth folly,.... However, this upon a review of things he could not but own, that natural wisdom and knowledge, though there was no true happiness and satisfaction in them, yet they greatly exceeded folly and madness;
as far as light excelleth darkness; as the light of the day the darkness of the night; the one is pleasant and delightful, the other very uncomfortable; the one useful to direct in walking, the other very unsafe to walk in: light sometimes signifies joy and prosperity, and darkness adversity; the one is used to express the light of grace, and the other the darkness of sin and ignorance; now as the natural light exceeds darkness, and prosperity exceeds adversity and calamities, and a state of grace exceeds a state of sin and wickedness, so wisdom exceeds folly.
Wesley's Notes on the Bible
2:13 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 other follies.
Ecclesiastes 2:13 Parallel Commentaries
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