|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 17. - Therefore I hated life; et idcirce taeduit me vitae meae. Be a man wise or foolish, his life leads only to one end and is soon forgotten; hence life itself is burdensome and hateful. The bitter complaint of Job (Job 3:20, etc.; Job 6:8, 9) is here echoed, though the words do not point to suicide as the solution of the riddle. It is the ennui and unprofitableness of all life and action in view of the inevitable conclusion, which is here lamented. Because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me; literally, for evil unto me (Esther 3:9) is the work which is done under the sun. The toil and exertions of men pressed upon him like a burden too heavy for him to bear. Symmachus, Κακόν μοι ἐφάνη τὸ ἔργον; Septuagint, Πονηρὸν ἐπ ἐμὲ τὸ ποίημα κ.τ.λ.. He repeats the expression, "under the sun," as if to show that he was regarding human labor only in its earthly aspect, undertaken and executed for temporal and selfish considerations alone. The apostle teaches a 'better lesson, and the worker who adopts his rule is saved from this crushing disappointment: "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:23, 24). For all is vanity. He comes back to the same miserable refrain; it is all emptiness, striving after wind.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Therefore I hated life,.... Not strictly and simply understood, since life is the gift of God; and a great blessing it is, more than raiment, and so dear to a man, that he will give all he has for it: but comparatively, in comparison of the lovingkindness of God, which is better than life; or in comparison of eternal life, which a good man desires to depart from this world, for the sake of enjoying it. The sense seems to be this, that since the case of wise men and fools was equal, he had the less love for life, the less regard to it, the less desire to continue in it; no solid happiness being to be enjoyed in anything under the sun: though some think that he was even weary of life, impatient of it, as Job, Jonah, and others have been. The Targum is,
"I hate all evil life:''
Alshech interprets it of the good things of this world, which were the cause of hurt unto him; and Aben Ezra understands, by life, living persons;
because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me; which was either wrought by himself; particularly his hard studies, and eager pursuits after knowledge and wisdom, which were a weariness to his flesh; or which were done by others, especially evil ones: so the Targum,
"for evil to me is an evil work, which is done by the children of men under the sun in this world;''
for all is vanity and vexation of spirit; See Gill on Ecclesiastes 1:14.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17. Disappointed in one experiment after another, he is weary of life. The backslider ought to have rather reasoned as the prodigal (Ho 2:6, 7; Lu 15:17, 18).
grievous unto me—(Job 10:1).
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