Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Ecclesiastes 1:13

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And I gave my heart to seek and search - While Solomon was faithful to his God he diligently cultivated his mind. His giving himself to the study of natural history, philosophy, poetry, etc., are sufficient proofs of it. He had not intuitive knowledge from God; but he had a capacity to obtain every kind of knowledge useful to man.

This sore travail - This is the way in which knowledge is to be acquired; and in order to investigate the operations of nature, the most laborious discussions and perplexing experiments must be instituted, and conducted to their proper results. It is God's determination that knowledge shall be acquired in no other way.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Wisdom - As including both the powers of observation and judgment, and the knowledge acquired thereby (1 Kings 3:28; 1 Kings 4:29; 1 Kings 10:8, … ). It increases by exercise. Here is noted its application to people and their actions.

Travail - In the sense of toil; the word is here applied to all human occupations.

God - God is named as אלהים 'elohı̂ym thirty-nine times in this book; a name common to the true God and to false gods, and used by believers and by idolators: but the name Yahweh, by which He is known especially to the people who are in covenant with Him, is never once used.

Perhaps the chief reason for this is that the evil which is the object of inquiry in this book is not at all unique to the chosen people. All creation Ecclesiastes 5:1 note.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 252.2

If the followers of Christ were but earnest seekers after wisdom, they would be led into rich fields of truth, as yet wholly unknown to them. He who will give himself to God as fully as did Moses, will be guided by the divine hand as verily as was the great leader of Israel. He may be lowly and apparently ungifted; yet if with a loving, trusting heart he obeys every intimation of God's will, his powers will be purified, ennobled, energized, and his capabilities will be increased. As he treasures the lessons of divine wisdom, a sacred commission will be entrusted to him; he will be enabled to make his life an honor to God and a blessing to the world.... TDG 252.2

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 253.3

God desires that the youth shall become skillful, thorough laborers, wearing Christ's yoke, lifting His burdens. “Ye are labourers together with God,” He says. The children and youth should seek most earnestly to advance in understanding, in mental acquirements; their aim should be in spiritual as well as temporal things, to work upon the plan of addition. “Giving all diligence,” the apostle Peter says, “add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that he shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).... TDG 253.3

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 249

That God should thus be manifest in the flesh is indeed a mystery; and without the help of the Holy Spirit we cannot hope to comprehend this subject. The most humbling lesson that man has to learn is the nothingness of human wisdom, and the folly of trying, by his own unaided efforts, to find out God. He may exert his intellectual powers to the utmost, he may have what the world calls a superior education, yet he may still be ignorant in God's eyes. The ancient philosophers boasted of their wisdom; but how did it weigh in the scale with God? Solomon had great learning; but his wisdom was foolishness; for he did not know how to stand in moral independence, free from sin, in the strength of a character molded after the divine similitude. Solomon has told us the result of his research, his painstaking efforts, his persevering inquiry. He pronounces his wisdom altogether vanity. 1SM 249.1

By wisdom the world knew not God. Their estimation of the divine character, their imperfect knowledge of His attributes, did not enlarge and expand their mental conception. Their minds were not ennobled in conformity to the divine will, but they plunged into the grossest idolatry. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Romans 1:22, 23). This is the worth of all requirements and knowledge apart from Christ. 1SM 249.2

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1 (EGW), 1083

1. Satan Uses Instruments—In Eden Satan used the serpent as his instrument. Today he makes use of the members of the human family, striving by means of every species of cunning and deception to hedge up the path of righteousness cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in (Letter 91, 1900). 1BC 1083.1

5. No Change in Satan's Propaganda—God does not consult our opinions or preferences. He knows what human beings do not know,—the future results of every movement, and therefore our eyes should be directed to Him, and not to the worldly advantages presented by Satan. Satan tells us that if we give heed to him, we shall reach great heights of knowledge. Ye shall be as gods, he said to Eve, if you eat of the tree forbidden by God. The test given to Adam and Eve was very light, but they could not bear it. They disobeyed God, and this transgression opened the floodgates of woe on our world (Manuscript 50, 1893). 1BC 1083.2

6. Mildest Test Given—With what intense interest the whole universe watched the conflict that was to decide the position of Adam and Eve. How attentively the angels listened to the words of Satan, the originator of sin, as he placed his own ideas above the commands of God, and sought to make of none effect the law of God through his deceptive reasoning! How anxiously they waited to see if the holy pair would be deluded by the tempter, and yield to his arts! They asked themselves, Will the holy pair transfer their faith and love from the Father and Son to Satan? Will they accept his falsehoods as truth? They knew that they might refrain from taking the fruit, and obey the positive injunction of God, or they might violate the express command of their Creator. 1BC 1083.3

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