Ecclesiastes 8:1

Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

Who is as the wise man?.... Who is as the first man, that was made upright, and was a wise man? not one of his sons. Or who is as the wise man, meaning himself? no man; he was the wisest of men; and yet he could not find out wisdom, and the reason of things, and the wickedness of folly, Ecclesiastes 7:25; how therefore should any other man? what can the man do that comes after the king? Or who is like to a wise man, to he compared to him for honour and dignity? none; not those of the highest birth and blood, of the greatest wealth and riches, or in the highest places of power and authority; a wise man is above them, they being without wisdom; and especially such as are wise to salvation; these are the excellent in the earth, and the most worthy among men. Or who is a truly wise man? is there really such a person in the world, that has got to the perfection of wisdom? not one; and very few they are that can, in a true and proper sense, be called wise men. The Targum is,

"who is a wise man, that can stand against the wisdom of the Lord?''

and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? or "a word" {q}? the word of God, which is not of private interpretation? none know it rightly, but such who have the Spirit of God, the enditer of the word: Christ is the interpreter, one among a thousand; and, next to him are those who have his mind, and rightly divide the word of truth. The Targum is,

"and to know the interpretation of the words in the prophets:''

this may be understood of the solution of any difficulties in things natural or civil; and of the interpretation of any of the works of God, either in nature or providence, as well as of his word; and he is a wise man, that not only has wisdom in himself, but is able to teach others, and make them wise; can solve doubts, remove difficulties, interpret nature, the works and word of God. Aben Ezra repeats the note of similitude from the former clause, and so it may be rendered, "Who is as he that knows the interpretation of a thing", or "word?" such an one as Solomon was, Proverbs 1:6;

a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine: as Moses, when he came down from the mount, full fraught with the knowledge of the will of God,

Exodus 34:29; and as Stephen, whose wisdom and spirit, by which he spoke, were irresistible, Acts 6:10; wisdom, which discovers itself in a man's words and actions, gives comeliness to his person, makes him look amiable and lovely in the eyes of others: or, it "enlightens his face" {r}; by it he is able to see the difference between truth and falsehood, and what is to be done and not done; what way he should walk in, and what he should shun and avoid;

and the boldness of his face shall be changed; the ferocity and austerity of his countenance, the impudence and inhumanity that appeared in him before, through his wisdom and knowledge, are changed into meekness, gentleness, and humanity; of an impudent, fierce, and badly behaved man, he becomes meek, modest, affable, and humane; this effect natural wisdom and knowledge has on men {s}; and much more spiritual and evangelical wisdom, which comes from above, and is first pure, then peaceable and gentle, James 3:17. Some read it, "the strength of his face shall be doubled", or "renewed" {t}; he shall be changed into the same image, from glory to glory; his spiritual strength shall be renewed, and his light and knowledge increase yet more and more, 2 Corinthians 3:18. But Gussetius {u} renders it, his "boldness", or impudence, "shall be hated".

{q} rbd "verbi", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus.
{r} wynp ryat "illustrati", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus; "illuminat", Cocceius, Gejerus, Rambachius, so Broughton.
{s} "Adde quod ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes, emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros", Ovid. de Ponto, l. 2. Eleg. 9.
{t} anwvy "duplicatur", Junius & Tremellius, Varenius; "instauratur", Cocceius, Gejerus.
{u} Ebr. Comment. p. 595. so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions.