|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 19. - Who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? The bitter feeling that he has to leave the fruits of his lifelong labor to another is aggravated by the thought that he knows not the character of this successor, whether he will be worthy or not. As the psalmist says, "He heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them" (Psalm 39:6). Again in the parable, "The things which thou hast prepared, whose shall they be?" (Luke 12:20; comp. Ecclus. 11:18, 19). Yet shall he have rule, etc. Whatever may be his character, he will have free use and control of all that I have gathered by my labor directed by prudence and wisdom. Vulgate, Domina-bitur in laboribus meis quibus desudavi et sollicitus fui.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool?.... The king that should be after him, as the Targum, that should be his successor and heir; and so whether he would make a good or bad use of what was left; whether he would keep and improve it, or squander it away; suggesting, that could he be sure he would be a wise man that should come into his labours, it would be some satisfaction to him that he had laboured, and such a man should have the benefit of it; but as it was a precarious thing what he would be, he could take no pleasure in reviewing his labours he was about to leave. Some think that Solomon here gives a hint of the suspicion he had, that his son Rehoboam, his successor and heir, would turn out a foolish man, as he did;
yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have showed myself wise, under the sun; be he what he will, all will come into his hands; and he will have the power of disposing of all at his pleasure; not only of enjoying it, but of changing and altering things; and perhaps greatly for the worse, if he does not entirely destroy what has been wrought with so much care and industry, toil and labour, wisdom and prudence; the thought of all which was afflicting and distressing: and therefore he adds,
This is also vanity; and shows there is no happiness in all that a man does, has, or enjoys; and this circumstance, before related, adds to his vexation and unhappiness.
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