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Monday, December 4th, 2023
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Bible Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 4

Wesley's Explanatory NotesWesley's Notes

Verse 1

So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.

I returned — I considered again.

Oppressions — Whether by princes, magistrates, or other potent persons.

No comforter — None afforded them pity or succour.

But they, … — No comfort therein.

Verse 2

Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.

I praised — I judged them less miserable. For this is certain, that setting aside the future life, which Solomon doth not meddle with in the present debate; and considering the uncertainty, and vanity, and manifold calamities of the present life, a wise man would not account it worth his while to live.

Verse 3

Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

Better is he — Who was never born.

Not seen — Not felt: for as seeing good is put for enjoying it, so seeing evil is put for suffering it.

Verse 4

Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.

Right work — All the worthy designs of virtuous men.

Envied — Instead of honour, he meets with envy and obloquy.

Verse 5

The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.

The fool — Is careless and idle: perceiving that diligence is attended with envy, he runs into the other extreme.

Eateth — Wastes his substance, and brings himself to poverty, whereby his very flesh pines away for want of bread.

Verse 6

Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.

Better — These are the words of the sluggard, making this apology for his idleness, That his little with ease, is better than great riches got with much trouble.

Verse 8

There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.

Alone — Who has none but himself to care for.

Brother — To whom he may leave his vast estate.

Yet — He lives in perpetual restlessness and toil.

For whom — Having no kindred to enjoy it.

And bereave — Deny myself those comforts and conveniences which God hath allowed me? A sore travel - A dreadful judgment, as well as a great sin.

Verse 9

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.

Two — Who live together in any kind of society.

Because — Both have great benefit by such conjunction, whereby they support, encourage, and strengthen one another.

Verse 10

For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

They — One of them.

Fall — Into any mistake, or sin, or danger.

Verse 12

And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Prevail — Against either of them.

Verse 13

Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.

Better — More happy. Now he proceeds to another vanity, That of honour and power.

Than a king — Who hath neither wisdom to govern himself, nor to receive the counsels of wiser men.

Verse 14

For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.

For he — The poor and wise child is often advanced to the highest dignity.

Whereas — That old king is deprived of his kingdom.

Verse 15

I considered all the living which walk under the sun, with the second child that shall stand up in his stead.

I considered — The general disposition of common people, in all kingdoms, that they are fickle and inconstant.

With the second child — This may be understood of the king's child, or son and heir, called second, in respect of his father, whose successor he is.

Stand up — Arise to reign.

Verse 16

There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been before them: they also that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit.

No end — This humour of the common people hath no end, but passes from one generation to another.

Before them — Before the present generation. And so here are three generations of people noted, the authors of the present change, and their parents, and their children; and all are observed to have the same inclinations.

In him — They shall be as weary of the successor, though a wise and worthy prince, as their parents were of his foolish predecessor.

Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/wen/ecclesiastes-4.html. 1765.
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