1 The wordes of the Preacher, the son of Dauid, King in Ierusalem.
2 Uanitie of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanitie of vanities, all is vanitie.
3 What profite hath a man of all his labour which hee taketh vnder the Sunne?
4 One generation passeth away, and another generation commeth: but the earth abideth for euer.
5 The Sunne also ariseth, and the Sunne goeth downe, and hasteth to the place where he arose.
6 The winde goeth toward the South, and turneth about vnto the North; it whirleth about continually, and the winde returneth againe according to his circuits.
7 All the riuers runne into the sea, yet the Sea is not full: vnto the place from whence the riuers come, thither they returne againe.
8 All things are full of labour, man cannot vtter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the eare filled with hearing.
9 The thing that hath beene, it is that which shall be: and that which is done, is that which shall be done; and there is no new thing vnder the sunne.
10 Is there any thing, whereof it may be sayd, See, this is new? it hath beene already of olde time, which was before vs.
11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there bee any remembrance of things that are to come, with those that shall come after.
12 ¶ I the Preacher was king ouer Israel in Ierusalem.
13 And I gaue my heart to seeke and search out by wisedome, concerning all things that are done vnder heauen: this sore trauell hath God giuen to the sonnes of man, to be exercised therewith.
14 I haue seene all the workes that are done vnder the Sunne, and behold, all is vanitie, and vexation of spirit.
15 That which is crooked, cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbred.
16 I communed with mine owne heart, saying, Loe, I am come to great estate, and haue gotten more wisedome then all they that haue beene before me in Ierusalem: yea my heart had great experience of wisedome & knowledge.
17 And I gaue my heart to know wisedome, and to know madnesse and folly: I perceiued that this also is vexation of spirit.
18 For in much wisedome is much griefe: and hee that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow.
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.Solomon 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)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?
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.
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!
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 cause of all this vanity and misery; to value Christ; to seek rest in the knowledge, love, and service of the Saviour.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.