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Matthew Henry's Commentary

Ecclesiastes Chapter 1

The 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 the 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.

olomon shows that all human things are vain. (1-3) Man's toil and want of satisfaction. (4-8) There is nothing new. (9-11) The vexation in pursuit of knowledge. (12-18)

Verses 1-3: 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?

Verses 4-8: 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.

Verses 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!

Verses 12-18: 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 good 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

 


David Burnette's Life Application

Vanity

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we start the Book of Ecclesiastes with Chapter 1. In our text today we look at this book which means "the Preacher" as the wisdom of God preaches to us that all earthy things are futile. In making application we see that many spend all their time on earth attempting to gain the worlds riches, or knowledge, or pleasures when the truth is that there is no satisfaction in gaining these earthly treasures. Today we see that the wealthy and self indulgent are among the most miserable folks on the planet. They have learned what our text proclaims that "things" do not make a person happy. How about you? Do you see that "things" do not bring happiness? Let us learn from our text today to see attain worldly things are vanity compared to the riches of knowing our Lord. 

 

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Ecclesiastes 1

Ecclesiastes 1

 1The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

 2Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

 3What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

 4One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

 5The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

 6The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.

 7All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

 8All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

 9The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

 10Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

 11There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

 12I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.

 13And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

 14I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

 15That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

 16I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.

 17And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

 18For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.