|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:18-26 Our hearts are very loth to quit their expectations of great things from the creature; but Solomon came to this at length. The world is a vale of tears, even to those that have much of it. See what fools they are, who make themselves drudges to the world, which affords a man nothing better than subsistence for the body. And the utmost he can attain in this respect is to allow himself a sober, cheerful use thereof, according to his rank and condition. But we must enjoy good in our labour; we must use those things to make us diligent and cheerful in worldly business. And this is the gift of God. Riches are a blessing or a curse to a man, according as he has, or has not, a heart to make a good use of them. To those that are accepted of the Lord, he gives joy and satisfaction in the knowledge and love of him. But to the sinner he allots labour, sorrow, vanity, and vexation, in seeking a worldly portion, which yet afterwards comes into better hands. Let the sinner seriously consider his latter end. To seek a lasting portion in the love of Christ and the blessings it bestows, is the only way to true and satisfying enjoyment even of this present world.
Verse 18. - Such had been his general view of men's actions; he now brings the thought home to his own case, which makes his distress more poignant. Yea (and), I hated all my labor which I had taken under the sun. He is disgusted to reflect upon all the trouble he has taken in life, when he thinks of what will become of the productions of his genius and the treasures which he has amassed. Because I should leave it (my labor, i.e. its results) unto the man that shall be after me. It is impossible that Solomon could thus have spoken of Rehoboam; and to suppose that he wrote thus after Jeroboam's attempt (1 Kings 2:26, etc.), and in contemplation of a possible usurper, is not warranted by any historical statement, the absolute security of the succession being all along expected, and the growing discontent being perfectly unknown to, or contemptuously disregarded by, the king. The sentiment is general, and recurs more than once; e.g., Ecclesiastes 4:8; Ecclesiastes 5:14; Ecclesiastes 6:2. Thus Horace, 'Epist.,' 2:2. 175 -
"Sic quia perpetuus nulli datur usus, et heres
Heredem alterius velut unda supervenit undam,
Quid vici prosunt aut horrea?"
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun,.... The great works he made, the houses he built; the vineyards, gardens, and orchards he planted, &c. what he got by his labour, his riches and wealth; and what he also got, not by the labour of his hands, but of his mind. Some understand this of the books he wrote; which were a weariness to his body, and fatigue to his mind; and which he might fear some persons would make an ill use of: Aben Ezra interprets it of his labour in this book. All which he had no great regard unto, since it was to be left to another;
because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me; because he could not enjoy the fruits of his labour himself, at least but a very short time: but must be obliged to leave all to another, his possessions, estates, riches, and treasure; which a man cannot carry with him when he dies, but must leave all behind him, to his heirs and successors (x). The Targum is,
"because I shall leave it to Rehoboam my son, who shall come after me; and Jeroboam his servant shall come and take ten tribes out of his hands, and possess half the kingdom.''
(x) "Rape, congere, aufer, posside, relinquendum est." Martial. Epigr. l. 8. Ephesians 43.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
18, 19. One hope alone was left to the disappointed worldling, the perpetuation of his name and riches, laboriously gathered, through his successor. For selfishness is mostly at the root of worldly parents' alleged providence for their children. But now the remembrance of how he himself, the piously reared child of David, had disregarded his father's dying charge (1Ch 28:9), suggested the sad misgivings as to what Rehoboam, his son by an idolatrous Ammonitess, Naamah, should prove to be; a foreboding too fully realized (1Ki 12:1-18; 14:21-31).
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