|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verses 10-15. - There is a plan and system in all the circumstances of man's life; he feels this instinctively, but he cannot comprehend it. His duty is to make the best of the present, and to recognize the immutability of the law that governs all things. Verse 10. - I have seen the travail which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it; i.e. to busy themselves therewith (Ecclesiastes 1:13). This travail, exercise, or business is the work that has to be done under the conditions prescribed of time and season in face of the difficulty of man's free action and God's ordering. We take infinite pains, we entertain ample desires, and strive restlessly to carry them out, but our efforts are controlled by a higher law, and results occur in the way and at the time arranged by Providence. Human labor, though it is appointed by God and is part of man's heritage imposed upon him by the Fall (Genesis 3:17, etc.), cannot bring contentment or satisfy the spirit's cravings.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I have seen the travail which God hath given to the sons of men,.... The pains and trouble they are at to get a little wisdom and knowledge, Ecclesiastes 1:13; and so to obtain riches and honour, peace and plenty, which sometimes they do obtain, and sometimes not; and when they do, do not keep them long, for there is a time for everything. This the wise man had observed, in a variety of instances; and he considered the end of God in it, which was for men
to be exercised in it, or "by it"; or "to afflict" or "humble them by it" (l); to let them see that all their toil and labour signified little; all depended on a divine blessing, and no happiness was to be had in the creatures; all was vanity and vexation of spirit; See Gill on Ecclesiastes 1:13.
(l) "ad affligendum se in ea", Montanus; "ut eos adfligat in ea, sc. per eam", Rambachius; "ut ea redderet humiles", Tigurine version.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. (See on Ec 1:13).
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