Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Ecclesiastes
Book: Ecclesiastes
Chapter: 1

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.