Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13
I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.…
In these words we have a repetition of the conclusion already announced (Ecclesiastes 2:24) as to the method by which some measure of happiness can be secured by man, but there is a very important addition made to the former declaration. Our author is referring to temporal things, and tells the secret by which the happiness they may procure for us is to be won. It consists of two particulars:
(1) a cheerful enjoyment of the gifts of God, and
(2) a benevolent use of them.
This latter is the addition to which I have referred. It is a distinct advance upon the previous utterance, as it introduces the idea of an unselfish use of the gifts which God has bestowed upon us - an employment of them for the benefit of others less fortunately circumstanced than ourselves. "Over and above the life of honest labor and simple joys which had been recognized as good before, the seeker has learnt that 'doing good' is in some sense the best way of getting good" (Plumptre). It may be that beneficence is only a part of what is meant by" doing good," but in the connection in which the phrase is here employed it must be a large part, because it evidently suggests something more as desirable than a selfish enjoyment of the good things of life. This twofold duty of accepting with gratitude the gifts of God and of applying them to good uses was prescribed by the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 26:1-14); and, to a truly pious mind, the one part of the duty will suggest the other. The thought that God in his bounty has enriched us, who are unworthy of the least of all his mercies, will lead us to be compassionate to those who are in want, and we shall find in relieving their necessities the purest and most exquisite of all joys. We shall in this way discover for ourselves the truth of that saying of our Lord's, "It is mere blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). While those who selfishly keep all they have for themselves fled that, however their goods increase, their satisfaction in them cannot be increased - nay, rather that it rapidly diminishes. Hence it is that the apostle counsels the rich "to do good, to be rich in good works, to be ready to distribute, willing to communicate "(1 Timothy 6:17-19). The general teaching of the Scriptures, therefore, is in. harmony with the results of our own experience, and leads to the same conclusion, that "doing good" is a condition of pure happiness. - J.W.
Parallel VersesKJV: I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.