|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:13-16 People are never long easy and satisfied; they are fond of changes. This is no new thing. Princes see themselves slighted by those they have studied to oblige; this is vanity and vexation of spirit. But the willing servants of the Lord Jesus, our King, rejoice in him alone, and they will love Him more and more to all eternity.
Verse 16. - There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been before them. The paragraph plainly is carrying on the description of the popular enthusiasm for the new favorite. The Authorized Version completely obscures this meaning. It is better to translate, Numberless were the people, all, at whose head he stood. Koheleth places himself in the position of a spectator, and marks how numerous are the adherents who flock around the youthful aspirant. "Nullus finis omni populo, omnibus, quibus praefuit" (Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Volck). Yet his popularity was not lasting and his influence was not permanent. They also that come after shall not rejoice in him. In spite of his cleverness, and notwithstanding the favor with which he is now regarded, those of a later generation shall flout his pretensions and forget his benefits. If we still continue the allusion to Joseph, we may see here in this last clause a reference to the change that supervened when another king arose who knew him not (Exodus 1:8), and who, oblivious of the services of this great benefactor, heavily oppressed the Israelites. This experience leads to the same result; it is all vanity and vexation of spirit.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been before them,.... Before the present generation, the living that walked under the sun; a vast number they were that lived before them, and they were of the same restless temper and disposition; changeable in their affection and behaviour towards their governors; no end of their number, nor any stable affection for, nor settled satisfaction in, their rulers; but this itch of novelty, of having new princes over them, went from age to age, from generation to generation. Some understand this of the king and his son, the predecessor and successor, and of those that went before them; and of their behaviour to the kings that reigned before them; the people have not their end or satisfaction in their governors, but are restless: which comes to the same sense;
they also that come after shall not rejoice in him; that come after the present generation, and after both the reigning prince, and even after his successor; they will not rejoice long in him that shall be upon the throne after them, any more than the present subjects of the old king, or those that now pay their court to the heir apparent; they will be so far from rejoicing in him, that they will loath and despise him, and wish him dead or dethroned, and another in his room.
Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit; to a king, to see himself thus used by his subjects; for a short time extolled and praised, and then despised and forsaken.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16. Notwithstanding their now worshipping the rising sun, the heir-apparent, I reflected that "there were no bounds, no stability (2Sa 15:6; 20:1), no check on the love of innovation, of all that have been before them," that is, the past generation; so
also they that come after—that is, the next generation,
shall not rejoice in him—namely, Rehoboam. The parallel, "shall not rejoice," fixes the sense of "no bounds," no permanent adherence, though now men rejoice in him.
Ecclesiastes 4:16 Parallel Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 4:16 NIV
Ecclesiastes 4:16 NLT
Ecclesiastes 4:16 ESV
Ecclesiastes 4:16 NASB
Ecclesiastes 4:16 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible