If thou seest the oppression of the poor - For this was a frequent case under all governments; and especially in the provinces or colonies which being far from the seat of government, were generally oppressed by the sovereign's deputies.
Marvel not at the matter - החפץ hachephets, the will, i.e., of God; which permits such evils to take place; for all things shall work together for good to them that love him.
Ye righteous, if his dispensations here
Unequal seem. What, though disorders reign?
He still presides, and with unerring hand
Directs the vast machine. His wisdom can
From discord harmony produce; and make
Even vice itself subservient to his ends."
Matter - Rather, purpose (as in the margin, and Ecclesiastes 3:1), referring either to the will of God or to the edict of an oppressive ruler.
For he they - literally, for high watches over high and the highest over them, i. e., the king in the capital watches over the judge or governor in the province, and God over both. This seems more in harmony with the preceding verses, and more agreeable to the scope of this passage than to understand the passage only of earthly rulers.
The accounts of every business, the details of every transaction, pass the scrutiny of unseen auditors, agents of Him who never compromises with injustice, never overlooks evil, never palliates wrong. Ed 144.1
“If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice, ... marvel not at the matter: for He that is higher than the highest regardeth.” “There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.” Ecclesiastes 5:8; Job 34:22. Ed 144.2
“They set their mouth against the heavens.... And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?” “These things hast thou done,” God says, “and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes,” Psalm 73:9-11; 50:21. Ed 144.3Read in context »
Had Solomon continued in humility of mind to turn the attention of men from himself to the One who had given him wisdom and riches and honor, what a history might have been his! But while the pen of inspiration records his virtues, it also bears faithful witness to his downfall. Raised to a pinnacle of greatness and surrounded with the gifts of fortune, Solomon became dizzy, lost his balance, and fell. Constantly extolled by men of the world, he was at length unable to withstand the flattery offered him. The wisdom entrusted to him that he might glorify the Giver, filled him with pride. He finally permitted men to speak of him as the one most worthy of praise for the matchless splendor of the building planned and erected for the honor of “the name of the Lord God of Israel.” PK 68.1
Thus it was that the temple of Jehovah came to be known throughout the nations as “Solomon's temple.” The human agent had taken to himself the glory that belonged to the One “higher than the highest.” Ecclesiastes 5:8. Even to this day the temple of which Solomon declared, “This house which I have built is called by Thy name” (2 Chronicles 6:33), is oftenest spoken of, not as the temple of Jehovah, but as “Solomon's temple.” PK 68.2
Man cannot show greater weakness than by allowing men to ascribe to him the honor for gifts that are Heaven-bestowed. The true Christian will make God first and last and best in everything. No ambitious motives will chill his love for God; steadily, perseveringly, will he cause honor to redound to his heavenly Father. It is when we are faithful in exalting the name of God that our impulses are under divine supervision, and we are enabled to develop spiritual and intellectual power. PK 68.3Read in context »
In gratitude Solomon acknowledged the power and the loving-kindness of the One who is “higher than the highest” (Ecclesiastes 5:8); in penitence he began to retrace his steps toward the exalted plane of purity and holiness from whence he had fallen so far. He could never hope to escape the blasting results of sin, he could never free his mind from all remembrance of the self-indulgent course he had been pursuing, but he would endeavor earnestly to dissuade others from following after folly. He would humbly confess the error of his ways and lift his voice in warning lest others be lost irretrievably because of the influences for evil he had been setting in operation. PK 78.1
The true penitent does not put his past sins from his remembrance. He does not, as soon as he has obtained peace, grow unconcerned in regard to the mistakes he has made. He thinks of those who have been led into evil by his course, and tries in every possible way to lead them back into the true path. The clearer the light that he has entered into, the stronger is his desire to set the feet of others in the right way. He does not gloss over his wayward course, making his wrong a light thing, but lifts the danger signal, that others may take warning. PK 78.2
Solomon acknowledged that “the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart.” Ecclesiastes 9:3. And again he declared, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before Him: but it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.” Ecclesiastes 8:11-13. PK 78.3Read in context »