Ecclesiastes 4

* Miseries from oppression. (1-3) troubles from envy. (4-6) The

folly of covetousness. (7,8) The advantages of mutual

assistance. (9-12) the changes of royalty. (13-16)

1-3 It grieved Solomon to see might prevail against right.

Wherever we turn, we see melancholy proofs of the wickedness and

misery of mankind, who try to create trouble to themselves and

to each other. Being thus hardly used, men are tempted to hate

and despise life. But a good man, though badly off while in this

world, cannot have cause to wish he had never been born, since

he is glorifying the Lord, even in the fires, and will be happy

at last, for ever happy. Ungodly men have most cause to wish the

continuance of life with all its vexations, as a far more

miserable condition awaits them if they die in their sins. If

human and worldly things were our chief good, not to exist would

be preferable to life, considering the various oppressions here

4-6 Solomon notices the sources of trouble peculiar to

well-doers, and includes all who labour with diligence, and

whose efforts are crowned with success. They often become great

and prosperous, but this excites envy and opposition. Others,

seeing the vexations of an active course, foolishly expect more

satisfaction in sloth and idleness. But idleness is a sin that

is its own punishment. Let us by honest industry lay hold on the

handful, that we may not want necessaries, but not grasp at both

hands full, which would only create vexation of spirit. Moderate

pains and gains do best.
7,8 Frequently, the more men have, the more they would have;

and on this they are so intent, that they get no enjoyment from

what they have. Selfishness is the cause of this evil. A selfish

man cares for nobody; there is none to take care of but himself,

yet he will scarcely allow necessary rest to himself, and the

people he employs. He never thinks he has enough. He has enough

for his calling, for his family, but he has not enough for his

eyes. Many are so set upon the world, that in pursuit of it they

bereave themselves, not only of the favour of God and eternal

life, but of the pleasures of this life. The distant relations

or strangers who inherit such a man's wealth, never thank him.

Covetousness gathers strength by time and habit; men tottering

on the brink of the grave, grow more grasping and griping. Alas,

and how often do we see men professing to be followers of Him,

who, "though he was rich, for our sakes became poor," anxiously

scraping money together and holding it fast, excusing themselves

by common-place talking about the necessity of care, and the

danger of extravagance!
9-12 Surely he has more satisfaction in life, who labours hard

to maintain those he loves, than the miser has in his toil. In

all things union tends to success and safety, but above all, the

union of Christians. They assist each other by encouragement, or

friendly reproof. They warm each other's hearts while they

converse together of the love of Christ, or join in singing his

praises. Then let us improve our opportunities of Christian

fellowship. In these things all is not vanity, though there will

be some alloy as long as we are under the sun. Where two are

closely joined in holy love and fellowship, Christ will by his

Spirit come to them; then there is a threefold cord.
13-16 People are never long easy and satisfied; they are fond

of changes. This is no new thing. Princes see themselves

slighted by those they have studied to oblige; this is vanity

and vexation of spirit. But the willing servants of the Lord

Jesus, our King, rejoice in him alone, and they will love Him

more and more to all eternity.
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