For all this I considered in mine heart
What goes before, in the latter end of the preceding chapter, concerning the various providences of God, the difficulty of finding out the reasons of them, and the fruitlessness of attempting it; and also what follows, the work of Providence: Solomon gave his mind unto, attended it with great application, and strictly considered and examined it, in order to find it out, but could not; and if he could not, no other man could. And he had a good intention in all; his views were, even to declare all this;
for the end of search and inquiry should be, to make known what is found for the good of others, ( Job 5:27 ) ; and as the wise man had done before, ( Ecclesiastes 7:25-29 ) ; or "to purge", or "purify", as the word F16 signifies; to make dark providences clear, and consistent with the perfections and promises of God; to free and vindicate them from all charges of unrighteousness and partiality, and to set them in a clear light to others: now though he failed in his attempt, yet having made some discoveries, he imparted them, as follows: and the observations he made were, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, [are] in the hand
that those who are truly "righteous" in the sight of God; are so, in an evangelical sense, made so by the obedience of Christ; and who believe in him for righteousness, and live soberly, righteously, and godly: and who are "wise", not for the things of this world but another, who are wise unto salvation; and are concerned for the truth of grace, as well as an outward profession, and walk wisely in the world; these, their persons, are under the special care of divine Providence; they receive from the hand of God what is needful and proper for them, and they are preserved and protected by him, ( 1 Timothy 4:8 1 Timothy 4:10 ) ; and their "works", or affairs; all events relating to them, are all appointed, ordered, and directed by the hand of God, and all for their good. In a more evangelic sense, their persons are in the hands of God, Father, Son, and Spirit; in the hands of the Father of Christ, being engraven there: he looks at them, and upon them; with delight and pleasure, and never forgets them; he has a high and honourable esteem of them, they are a crown of glory, and a royal diadem in his hand; he directs and guides them, holds them, and upholds them with his right hand; and keeps them, by his power, through faith unto salvation, ( John 10:29 ) ( Isaiah 49:16 ) ( 62:3 ) ( 41:10 ) ( Psalms 73:23 Psalms 73:24 ) ( 1 Peter 1:5 ) . They are in the hands of Christ; put there by his Father, as the effect of his love, care, and wisdom; where they are in his possession, the objects of his delight; and are under his guidance and direction, his care and protection, ( Deuteronomy 33:3 ) ( Song of Solomon 8:6 ) ( Psalms 95:7 ) ( Revelation 2:1 ) ( John 10:28 ) . And they are in the hands of the Spirit, who begins and carries on his own work in them; leads them to Christ, and into all truth, and guides them safe to glory, ( John 16:8 John 16:13 John 16:14 ) ( Psalms 143:10 ) . And so their "works" also are in the hands of God; the work of grace upon the soul is in the hand of the Spirit, to carry it on and finish it; good works done by them are done by the assistance of divine grace, the strength of Christ, and the aid of the blessed Spirit; are received and accepted with God through Christ; and will not be forgotten, but are retained, and will be remembered another day; see ( Ecclesiastes 9:7 ) ( Hebrews 6:10 ) ( Revelation 14:13 ) ; no man knoweth either love or hatred [by] all [that is] before them;
no man knows his own love and hatred, his passions are so fickle and inconstant; what he loves now, he presently hates, as may be seen in the instances of Ammon, Ahasuerus, and others: or he knows not that what he loves and hates shall befall him, all depending on divine Providence; or he does not know the love and hatred of others, who are his friends or his foes, there is such deceitfulness in men: or rather, he does not know the love and hatred of God, with respect to himself or others, by the outward conduct of Providence; since the same things happen to one as to another; as health and strength, wealth and riches, honour and fame, wisdom and learning, long life, and the like: good men may know that they are loved of God, by his love being shed abroad in them, by the blessings of grace bestowed on them, and the witnessings of the Spirit to them; and know that sin is abominable to God, and wicked men are hated by him; and living and dying in sin, will be eternally damned; but who is an elect person, and who a reprobate, is not to be known by the outward estate of men, as to the things of life. Some render it, "even love and hatred" F17, in connection with the preceding clause; that is, these are in the hands of God also; his love to his people is purely sovereign, according to his own will; not through any motives in them, as their love, loveliness, or good works; and his hatred of others, or the punishment of them for sin, and appointment of them to it; for the same is also as he pleases; see ( Romans 9:11-22 ) ; or the love and hatred of men; for God has the hearts and passions of all men in his hand, and at his command, and can raise or restrain them at his pleasure, ( Proverbs 21:1 ) ; the love and hatred of good men; he works in them love to himself and all divine things, and hatred of that which is evil; and also of bad men, he can make them love his people, and he can restrain their wrath when he pleases, ( Proverbs 16:7 ) ( Psalms 76:10 ) ; and then the last clause is rendered, "no man knoweth all [that is] before them" F18; either before Elohim, the three divine Persons, to whom all things are manifest, or that were before decreed, as Aben Ezra; the purposes and decrees of God, which are the secret and deep things of God, and cannot be known but by his promises or providences: or man is so short sighted, that he cannot discern the things that are plain and manifest before him; and much less things future, that are yet to come. But the words, according to the accents, may be better rendered, as by Munster, "neither love nor hatred man knows"; whether the love professed to him is sincere, and what secret hatred is bore to him: "but all things are before him"; Elohim, the three divine Persons.
F16 (rwbl) "purgare", Gejerus, Gouge.
F17 (hanv Mg hbha Mg) "etiam amor, etiam odium", i.e. "in manu Dei", De Dieu, Gouge, Gussetius, p. 150, 873.
F18 (Mhynpl lkh Mdah edwy Nya) "non norunt homines quicquam corum quaea ante se sunt", De Dieu; "non est homo quisquam qui cognoscat omnes qui sunt coram ipsi", Gussetius, p. 873.