|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.
Verse 18. - Wisdom is better than weapons of war. Such is the moral which Koheleth desires to draw from the little narrative given above (see vers. 14-16; and Ecclesiastes 7:19). Wisdom can do what no material force can effect, and often produces results which all the implements of war could not command. But one sinner destroyeth much good. The happy consequences which the wise man's counsel might accomplish, or has already accomplished, may be overthrown or rendered useless by the villany or perversity of a bad man. The Vulgate, reading differently, has, Qui in uno peccaverit, multa bona perdet. But this seems to be out of keeping with the context. Adam's sin infected the whole race of man; Achau's transgression caused Israel's defeat (Joshua 7:11, 12); Rehoboam's folly occasioned the great schism (1 Kings 12:16). The wide° reaching effects of one little error are illustrated by the proverbial saying which every one knows, and which runs in Latin thus: "Clavus unus perdit equi soleam, soles equum, equus equitem, eques castra, castro rempublicam."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Wisdom is better than weapons of war,.... And does what they cannot do; of which the wisdom of the poor wise man is a full proof, which delivered the city from a potent prince, when weapons of war could not: see Ecclesiastes 7:10;
but one sinner destroyeth much good: his own soul by his sins, and the souls of others by his counsels, example, and conversation, which corrupt good manners; so does one sinner in a family, neighbourhood, and town; as one poor wise man does much good, one sinner mars much; one Achan in a camp or army, one bad counsel for in a cabinet, one false teacher in the church, will do a great deal of mischief, as well as one debauchee in a town or city. The Vulgate Latin version is, "who sins in one"; offends or sins in one, as in James 2:10; so the Syriac version, "one sin destroys much good", or many good things; and to the same purpose the Arabic version, "he that committeth one sin".
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
18. one sinner, &c.—(Jos 7:1, 11, 12). Though wisdom excels folly (Ec 9:16; 7:19), yet a "little folly (equivalent to sin) can destroy much good," both in himself (Ec 10:1; Jas 2:10) and in others. "Wisdom" must, from the antithesis to "sinner," mean religion. Thus typically, the "little city" may be applied to the Church (Lu 12:32; Heb 12:22); the great king to Satan (Joh 12:31); the despised poor wise man, Jesus Christ (Isa 53:2, 3; Mr 6:3; 2Co 8:9; Eph 1:7, 8; Col 2:3).
Ecclesiastes 9:18 Parallel Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 9:18 NIV
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Ecclesiastes 9:18 NASB
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