16. HOLDEN makes Ecclesiastes 7:16 the scoffing inference of the objector, and Ecclesiastes 7:17 the answer of Solomon, now repentant. So ( 1 Corinthians 15:32 ) the skeptic's objection; ( 1 Corinthians 15:33 ) the answer. However, "Be not righteous over much," may be taken as Solomon's words, forbidding a self-made righteousness of outward performances, which would wrest salvation from God, instead of receiving it as the gift of His grace. It is a fanatical, pharisaical righteousness, separated from God; for the "fear of God" is in antithesis to it ( Ecclesiastes 7:18 , Ecclesiastes 5:3 Ecclesiastes 5:7 , Matthew 6:1-7 , 9:14 , Matthew 23:23 Matthew 23:24 , Romans 10:3 , 1 Timothy 4:3 ).
over wise--( Job 11:12 , Romans 12:3 Romans 12:16 ), presumptuously self-sufficient, as if acquainted with the whole of divine truth.
destroy thyself--expose thyself to needless persecution, austerities and the wrath of God; hence to an untimely death. "Destroy thyself" answers to "perisheth" ( Ecclesiastes 7:15 ); "righteous over much," to "a just man." Therefore in Ecclesiastes 7:15 it is self-justiciary, not a truly righteous man, that is meant.
17. over much wicked--so worded, to answer to "righteous over much." For if not taken thus, it would seem to imply that we may be wicked a little. "Wicked" refers to "wicked man" ( Ecclesiastes 7:15 ); "die before thy time," to "prolongeth his life," antithetically. There may be a wicked man spared to "live long," owing to his avoiding gross excesses ( Ecclesiastes 7:15 ). Solomon says, therefore, Be not so foolish (answering antithetically to "over wise," Ecclesiastes 7:16 ), as to run to such excess of riot, that God will be provoked to cut off prematurely thy day of grace ( Romans 2:5 ). The precept is addressed to a sinner. Beware of aggravating thy sin, so as to make thy case desperate. It refers to the days of Solomon's "vanity" (apostasy, Ecclesiastes 7:15 ), when only such a precept would be applicable. By litotes it includes, "Be not wicked at all."
18. this . . . this--the two opposite excesses ( Ecclesiastes 7:16 Ecclesiastes 7:17 ), fanatical, self-wise righteousness, and presumptuous, foolhardy wickedness.
he that feareth God shall come forth of them all--shall escape all such extremes ( Proverbs 3:7 ).
19. Hebrew, "The wisdom," that is, the true wisdom, religion ( 2 Timothy 3:15 ).
than ten mighty--that is, able and valiant generals ( Ecclesiastes 7:12 , 9:13-18 , Proverbs 21:22 , 24:5 ). These "watchmen wake in vain, except the Lord keep the city" ( Psalms 127:1 ).
20. Referring to Ecclesiastes 7:16 . Be not "self-righteous," seek not to make thyself "just" before God by a superabundance of self-imposed performances; "for true 'wisdom, or 'righteousness,' shows that there is not a just man," &c.
21. As therefore thou being far from perfectly "just" thyself, hast much to be forgiven by God, do not take too strict account, as the self-righteous do ( Ecclesiastes 7:16 , Luke 18:9 Luke 18:11 ), and thereby shorten their lives ( Ecclesiastes 7:15 Ecclesiastes 7:16 ), of words spoken against thee by others, for example, thy servant: Thou art their "fellow servant" before God ( Matthew 18:32-35 ).
22. ( 1 Kings 2:44 ).
23. All this--resuming the "all" in Ecclesiastes 7:15 , Ecclesiastes 7:15-22 is therefore the fruit of his dearly bought experience in the days of his "vanity."
I will be wise--I tried to "be wise," independently of God. But true wisdom was then "far from him," in spite of his human wisdom, which he retained by God's gift. So "over wise" ( Ecclesiastes 7:16 ).
24. That . . . far off . . . deep--True wisdom is so when sought independently of "fear of God" ( Ecclesiastes 7:18 , Deuteronomy 30:12 Deuteronomy 30:13 , Job 11:7 Job 11:8 , Job 28:12-20 Job 28:28 , Psalms 64:6 , Romans 10:6 Romans 10:7 ).
25. Literally, "I turned myself and mine heart to." A phrase peculiar to Ecclesiastes, and appropriate to the penitent turning back to commune with his heart on his past life.
wickedness of folly--He is now a step further on the path of penitence than in Ecclesiastes 1:17 , 2:12 , where "folly" is put without "wickedness" prefixed.
reason--rather, "the right estimation" of things. HOLDEN translates also "foolishness (that is, sinful folly, answering to 'wickedness' in the parallel) of madness" (that is, of man's mad pursuits).
26. "I find" that, of all my sinful follies, none has been so ruinous a snare in seducing me from God as idolatrous women ( 1 Kings 11:3 1 Kings 11:4 , Proverbs 5:3 Proverbs 5:4 , 22:14 ). As "God's favor is better than life," she who seduces from God is "more bitter than death."
whoso pleaseth God--as Joseph ( Genesis 39:2 Genesis 39:3 Genesis 39:9 ). It is God's grace alone that keeps any from falling.
27. this--namely, what follows in Ecclesiastes 7:28 .
counting one by one--by comparing one thing with another [HOLDEN and MAURER].
account--a right estimate. But Ecclesiastes 7:28 more favors GESENIUS. "Considering women one by one."
28. Rather, referring to his past experience, "Which my soul sought further, but I found not."
one man--that is, worthy of the name, "man," "upright"; not more than one in a thousand of my courtiers ( Job 33:23 , Psalms 12:1 ). Jesus Christ alone of men fully realizes the perfect ideal of "man." "Chiefest among ten thousand" ( Solomon 5:10 ). No perfect "woman has ever existed, not even the Virgin Mary. Solomon, in the word "thousand," alludes to his three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines. Among these it was not likely that he should find the fidelity which one true wife pays to one husband. Connected with Ecclesiastes 7:26 , not an unqualified condemnation of the sex, as Proverbs 12:4 , 31:10 , &c., prove.
29. The "only" way of accounting for the scarcity of even comparatively upright men and women is that, whereas God made man upright, they (men) have, &c. The only account to be "found" of the origin of evil, the great mystery of theology, is that given in Holy Writ (Genesis 2:1-3:24'). Among man's "inventions" was the one especially referred to in Ecclesiastes 7:26 , the bitter fruits of which Solomon experienced, the breaking of God's primeval marriage law, joining one man to "one" woman ( Matthew 19:4 Matthew 19:5 Matthew 19:6 ). "Man" is singular, namely, Adam; "they," plural, Adam, Eve, and their posterity.