|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:7-10 The event of our trials and difficulties is often better than at first we thought. Surely it is better to be patient in spirit, than to be proud and hasty. Be not soon angry, nor quick in resenting an affront. Be not long angry; though anger may come into the bosom of a wise man, it passes through it as a way-faring man; it dwells only in the bosom of fools. It is folly to cry out upon the badness of our times, when we have more reason to cry out for the badness of our own hearts; and even in these times we enjoy many mercies. It is folly to cry up the goodness of former times; as if former ages had not the like things to complain of that we have: this arises from discontent, and aptness to quarrel with God himself.
Verse 7. - The verse begins with ki, which usually introduces a reason for what has preceded; but the difficulty in finding the connection has led to various explanations and evasions. The Authorized Version boldly separates the verse from what has gone before, and makes a new paragraph beginning with "surely:" Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad. Delitzsch supposes that something has been lost between vers. 6 and 7, and he supplies the gap by a clause borrowed from Proverbs 16:8, "Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right;" and then the sentence proceeds naturally, "For oppression," etc. But this is scarcely satisfactory, as it is mere conjecture wholly unsupported by external evidence. The Vulgate leaves ki untranslated; the Septuagint has ὅτι. Looking at the various paragraphs, all beginning with rob, rendered "better," viz. vers. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, we must regard the present verse as connected with what precedes, a new subject being introduced at ver. 8. Putting ver. 6 in a parenthesis as merely presenting an illustration of the talk of fools, we may see in ver. 7 a confirmation of the first part of ver. 5. The rebuke of the wise is useful even in the case of rulers who are tempted -to excess and injustice. The "oppression" in the text is the exercise of irresponsible power, that which a man inflicts, not what he suffers; this makes him "mad," even though he be in other respects and under other circumstances wise; he ceases to be directed by reason and principle, and needs the correction of faithful rebuke. The Septuagint and Vulgate, rendering respectively συκοφαντία and calumnia, imply that the evil which distracts the wise man is false accusation. And a gift destroyeth the heart. The admission of bribery is likewise an evil that calls for wise rebuke. So Proverbs 15:27, "He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live." The phrase, "destroys the heart," means corrupts the understanding, deprives a man of wisdom, makes him no better than a fool (comp. Hosea 4:11, where the same effect is attributed to whoredom and drunkenness). The Septuagint has, ἀπόλλυσι τὴν καρδίαν εὐγενείας αὐτοῦ, "destroys the heart of his nobility;" the Vulgate, perdet robur cordis illius, "will destroy the strength of his heart." The interpretation given above seems to be the most reasonable way of dealing with the existing text; but Nowack and Volck adopt Delitzsch's emendation.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad,.... Which is to be understood either passively, when he is oppressed by others, or sees others oppressed; it raises indignation in him, disturbs his mind, and he is ready to pass a wrong judgment on the dispensations of Providence, and to say rash and unadvised things concerning them, Psalm 73:2; or actively, of oppression with which he oppresses others; when he gives into such measures, his wisdom departs from him, his mind is besotted, he acts the part of a madman, and pierces himself through with many sorrows. Some understand this of wealth got in an ill way; or of gifts given to bribe men to do injury to others; and which the following clause is thought to explain;
and a gift destroyeth the heart; blinds the eyes of judges other ways wise; perverts their judgment, and causes them to pass a wrong sentence, as well as perverts justice: or, "and destroys the heart of gifts" (k); a heart that is possessed of the gifts of wisdom and knowledge; or a munificent heart, a heart disposed to give bountifully and liberally, that oppression destroys and renders useless.
(k) "et frangit cor dotibus praeclaris ornatum", Tigurine version; so some Jewish writers in Mercerus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. oppression—recurring to the idea (Ec 3:16; 5:8). Its connection with Ec 7:4-6 is, the sight of "oppression" perpetrated by "fools" might tempt the "wise" to call in question God's dispensations, and imitate the folly (equivalent to "madness") described (Ec 7:5,6). Weiss, for "oppression," translates, "distraction," produced by merriment. But Ec 5:8 favors English Version.
a gift—that is, the sight of bribery in "places of judgment" (Ec 3:16) might cause the wise to lose their wisdom (equivalent to "heart"), (Job 12:6; 21:6, 7; 24:1, &c.). This suits the parallelism better than "a heart of gifts"; a benevolent heart, as Weiss.
Ecclesiastes 7:7 Parallel Commentaries
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