Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
name of this book signifies “The Preacher.” The wisdom of God here preaches to us, speaking
by Solomon, who it is evident was the author. At the close of his life, being made sensible
of his sin and folly, he recorded here his experience for the benefit of
others, as the book of his repentance; and he pronounced all earthly
good to be “vanity and vexation of spirit.” It convinces us of the
vanity of world, and that it cannot make us happy; of the vileness of
sin, and its certain tendency to make us miserable. It shows that no
created good can satisfy the soul, and that happiness is to be found in
God alone; and this doctrine must, under the blessed Spirit’s
teaching, lead the heart to Christ Jesus.
Ver 1-3. Solomon shows that all human things are vain.
4-8. Man’s toil and want of satisfaction. 9-11. There is nothing new.
12-18. The vexation in pursuit of knowledge.
- 3. Much is to be learned by comparing one part of Scripture with
another. We here behold Solomon returning from the broken and empty
cisterns of the world, to the Fountain of living water; recording his
own folly and shame, the bitterness of his disappointment, and the
lessons he had learned. Those that have taken warning to turn and live,
should warn others not to go on and die. -
He does not merely say all things are vain, but that they are vanity.
VANITY OF VANITIES, ALL IS VANITY. This is the text of the preacher’s
sermon, of which in this book he never loses sight. If this world, in
its present state, were all, it would not be worth living for; and the
wealth and pleasure of this world, if we had ever so much, are not
enough to make us happy. What profit has a man of all his labour? All he
gets by it will not supply the wants of the soul, nor satisfy its
desires; will not atone for the sins of the soul, nor hinder the loss of
it: what profit will the wealth of the world be to the soul in death, in
judgment, or in the everlasting state ?
8. All things change, and
never rest. Man, after all
his labour, is no nearer finding rest than the sun, the wind, or the
current of the river. His soul will find no rest, if he has it not from
God. The senses are soon tired, yet still craving what is untried.
9 - 11. Men’s hearts and their corruptions are the same now as in former times; their desires, and pursuits, and complaints, still the same. This should take us from expecting happiness in the creature, and quicken us to seek eternal blessings. – How many things and persons in Solomon’s day were thought very great, yet there is no remembrance of them now!
18. Solomon tried all
things, and found them vanity. He found his searches after knowledge
weariness, not only to the flesh, but to the mind. The more he saw of
the works done under the sun, the more he saw their vanity; and the
sight often vexed his spirit. He could neither gain that satisfaction to
himself, nor do that food to others, which he expected. Even the pursuit
of knowledge and wisdom discovered man’s wickedness and misery; so
that the more he knew, the more he saw cause to lament and mourn. Let us
learn to hate and fear sin, the cause of all this vanity and misery;
to value Christ; to
seek rest in the knowledge, love, and service the Saviour.