|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:13-18 A man may, by his wisdom, bring to pass that which he could never do by his strength. If God be for us, who can be against us, or stand before us? Solomon observes the power of wisdom, though it may labour under outward disadvantages. How forcible are right words! But wise and good men must often content themselves with the satisfaction of having done good, or, at least, endeavoured to do it, when they cannot do the good they would, nor have the praise they should. How many of the good gifts, both of nature and Providence, does one sinner destroy and make waste! He who destroys his own soul destroys much good. One sinner may draw many into his destroying ways. See who are the friends and enemies of a kingdom or a family, if one saint does much good, and one sinner destroys much good.
Verses 13-16. - Section 9. That wisdom, even when it does good service, is not always rewarded, is shown by an example. Verse 13. - This wisdom have I seen also under the sun; better, as the Septuagint, This also I saw to be wisdom under the sun. The experience which follows he recognized as an instance of worldly wisdom. To what special event he alludes is quite unknown. Probably the circumstance was familiar to his contemporaries. It is not to be considered as an allegory, though of course it is capable of spiritual application. The event in Bible history most like it is the preservation of Abel-Beth-maachah by the counsel of the wise woman (whose name is forgotten) narrated in 2 Samuel 20:15-22. And it seemed great unto me; Septuagint, Καὶ μεγάλη ἐστι πρὸς μέ, "And it is great before me." To my mind it appeared an important example (comp. Esther 10:3). Some critics who contend for the Solomonic authorship of our book, see here an allegorical reference to the foreseen revolt of Jeroboam, whose insurrection had been opposed by certain wise statesmen, but had been carried out in opposition to their counsel. Wordsworth considers that the apologue may be illustrated by the history of Jerusalem, when great powers were arrayed against it in the time of Isaiah, and the prophet by his prayers and exhortations delivered it (2 Kings 19:2, 6, 20), but was wholly disregarded afterwards, nay, was put to death by the son of the king whom he saved. But all this is nihil ad rem. As Plautus says, "Haec quidem deliramenta loquitur."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
This wisdom have I seen also under the sun,.... Or, "this also I have seen under the sun, even wisdom" (h): besides those things he had, just now observed, he took notice that there was such a thing as wisdom among men; though success did not always attend the wise, the understanding, and skilful; and though there was so much ignorance in men, of their own time, and were so easily and suddenly ensnared in an evil time;
and it seemed great unto me; Solomon had a high value for wisdom, and he still retained the same sentiments of it he had before, in Ecclesiastes 2:13, of which he gives the following instance.
(h) "Hoc etiam vidi sub sole, nempe sapientiam", Tigurine version; "etiam hoc vidi, sapientiam sub sole", Cocceius; "etiam hoc vidi, videlicet, sapientiam sub sole", Gejerus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. Rather, "I have seen wisdom of this kind also," that is, exhibited in the way which is described in what follows [Maurer].
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