|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:9-13 Solomon observed, that many a time one man rules over another to his hurt, and that prosperity hardens them in their wickedness. Sinners herein deceive themselves. Vengeance comes slowly, but it comes surely. A good man's days have some substance; he lives to a good purpose: a wicked man's days are all as a shadow, empty and worthless. Let us pray that we may view eternal things as near, real, and all-important.
Verse 11. - The verse states one of the results of God's forbearance in punishing the evil. Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily. The verse begins with asher," because," as in Ecclesiastes 4:3; Ecclesiastes 6:12, which connects the sentence with the allegation of vanity just preceding, as well as with what follows. Pithgam, "sentence," "edict," is a foreign word of Persian origin, found in Esther 1:20 and in Chaldee portions of Ezra (Ezra 4:17) and Daniel (Daniel 4:14, etc.). God seems to us to delay in punishing the guilty because we behold only one little portion of the course of his providence; could we take a more comprehensive view, anomalies would disappear, and we should see the end of these men (Psalm 73:17). But a contracted, skeptical view leads to two evils - first, a weakening of faith in God's moral government; and second, a miserable fatalism which denies man's responsibility and saps his energy. Of the former of these results Koheleth here treats. Therefore the heart of the sons of men. The heart is named as the seat of thought and the prime mover of action (comp. Ecclesiastes 9:3; Esther 7:5; Matthew 15:18, 19). Is fully set in them to do evil; literally, is full in them; i.e. their heart becomes filled with thoughts which are directed to evil, or full of courage, hence "emboldened" (Revised Version margin) to do evil. Vulgate, absque timore ullo filii hominum perpetrant mala; Septuagint, "Because there is no contradiction (ἀντίῥῤησις) made on the part of (ἀπὸ) those who do evil speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully persuaded (ἐπληροφορήθη) in them to do evil." The long-suffering of God, instead of leading such men to repentance, hardens them in their infidelity (Psalm 73:11). Primarily, the reference is still to tyrannical despots, who, in their seeming impunity, are em-boldened to pursue their evil course. But the statement is true generally. As Cicero says, "Quis ignorat maximam illecebram esse peccandi impunitatis spem?" ('Pro Milone,' 16.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily,.... Any evil work done by magistrates, or others, against which the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, and is threatened with his vengeance; the decree is gone forth, the sentence is passed, God is determined upon punishment; but there is a delay of it, he exercises patience and longsuffering to answer some end of his, both towards his own people and the wicked; as well as to display some of his own perfections; but because so it is, the judgment comes not at once;
therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil; or their "heart is full to do evil" (n); they have not only a fulness of sin in them naturally as is in every man's heart; but they are filled with resolution, boldness, and courage, to commit sin, promising themselves impurity from the seeming delay of justice; such an abuse do they make of the patience and forbearance of God; they become more and more hardened in sin and bent upon the commission of it.
(n) "plenum ad faciendum malum", Pagninus, Montanus; "praegnano ad faciendum malum", Gussetius, p. 469.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. The reason why the wicked persevere in sin: God's delay in judgment (Mt 24:48-51; 2Pe 3:8, 9). "They see not the smoke of the pit, therefore they dread not the fire" [South], (Ps 55:19). Joab's escape from the punishment of his murder of Abner, so far from "leading him to repentance," as it ought (Ro 2:4), led him to the additional murder of Amasa.
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