Ecclesiastes 5:19
Every man also to whom God has given riches and wealth, and has given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.
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Rather, Behold what I have seen to be good, it is pleasant for a man to eat. Such thankful enjoyment is inculcated by the Law Deuteronomy 12:7, Deuteronomy 12:18. Behold that which I have seen - This is the result of my observations and experience. God gives every man, in the course of his providence, the necessaries of life; and it is his will that he should thankfully use them.

For it is his portion - What is requisite for him in the lower world; without them his life cannot subsist, and earthly blessings are as truly the portion of his body and animal life, as the salvation of God is the portion of his soul.

Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth,.... Which include the whole of a man's substance; all his estate, personal and real; and all his goods and possessions, movable and immovable, as gold, silver, cattle, fields, and farms; which are all the gift of God, by whatsoever means they may be acquired or possessed;

and hath given him power; or, "caused him to have dominion" (r), over his wealth and riches, and not be a slave to them, as many are: but to have so much command of them and of himself, as

to eat thereof; comfortably enjoy them; and dispose of them to his own good, the good of others, and the glory of God. It follows,

and to take his portion; which God hath allotted him; to take it thankfully, and use it freely and comfortably;

and to rejoice in his labour; in the things he has been labouring for, in a cheerful use of them; blessing God for them, and taking the comfort of them;

this is the gift of God; to have such power over his substance, and not be a slave to it, and to enjoy the fruits of his labour, in a cheerful and comfortable manner; this is as much the gift of God as riches themselves (s).

(r) "eumque dominari eum fecerit", Tigurine version; "imperare fecit eum", Gejerus; "dominari eum fecerit", Rambachius. (s) "Di tibi divitias dederunt, artemque fruendi", Horat. Ep. l. 1. Ep. 4. v. 7.

Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.19. As Ec 5:18 refers to the "laboring" man (Ec 5:12), so Ec 5:19 to the "rich" man, who gets wealth not by "oppression" (Ec 5:8), but by "God's gift." He is distinguished also from the "rich" man (Ec 6:2) in having received by God's gift not only "wealth," but also "power to eat thereof," which that one has not.

to take his portion—limits him to the lawful use of wealth, not keeping back from God His portion while enjoying his own.

"There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, riches kept by their possessor to his hurt: the same riches perish by an evil event; and he hath begotten a son, thus this one hath nothing in his hand." There is a gradation of evils. חולה רעה (cf. רע חלי ר, Ecclesiastes 6:2) is not an ordinary, but a morbid evil, i.e., a deep hurtful evil; as a wound, not a common one, but one particularly severe and scarcely curable, is called נחלה, e.g., Nahum 3:19. השׁ ... רא is, as at Ecclesiastes 10:5, an ellipt. relat. clause; cf. on the other hand, Ecclesiastes 6:1; the author elsewhere uses the scheme of the relat. clause without relat. pron. (vid., under Ecclesiastes 1:13; Ecclesiastes 3:16); the old language would use ראיתיה, instead of ראיתי, with the reflex. pron. The great evil consists in this, that riches are not seldom kept by their owner to his own hurt. Certainly שׁמוּר ל can also mean that which is kept for another, 1 Samuel 9:24; but how involved and constrained is Ginsburg's explanation: "hoarded up (by the rich man) for their (future) owner," viz., the heir to whom he intends to leave them! That ל can be used with the passive as a designation of the subj., vid., Ewald, 295c; certainly it corresponds as little as מן, with the Greek ὑπό, but in Greek we say also πλοῦτος φυλαχθεὶς τῷ κεκτημένῳ, vid., Rost's Syntax, 112. 4. The suff. of lera'atho refers to be'alav, the plur. form of which can so far remain out of view, that we even say adonim qosheh, Isaiah 19:4, etc. "To his hurt," i.e., at the last suddenly to lose that which has been carefully guarded. The narrative explanation of this, "to his hurt," begins with vav explic. Regarding 'inyan ra'. It is a casus adversus that is meant, such a stroke upon stroke as destroyed Job's possessions. The perf. והו supposes the case that the man thus suddenly made poor is the father of a son; the clause is logically related to that which follows as hypothet. antecedent, after the scheme. Genesis 33:13. The loss of riches would of itself make one who is alone unhappy, for the misfortune to be poor is less than the misfortunes to be rich and then to become poor; but still more unfortunate is the father who thought that by well-guarded wealth he had secured the future of his son, and who now leaves him with an empty hand.

What now follows is true of this rich man, but is generalized into a reference to every rich man, and then is recorded as a second great evil. As a man comes naked into the world, so also he departs from it again without being able to take with him any of the earthly wealth he has acquired.

5:18-20 Life is God's gift. We must not view our calling as a drudgery, but take pleasure in the calling where God puts us. A cheerful spirit is a great blessing; it makes employments easy, and afflictions light. Having made a proper use of riches, a man will remember the days of his past life with pleasure. The manner in which Solomon refers to God as the Giver, both of life and its enjoyments, shows they ought to be received and to be used, consistently with his will, and to his glory. Let this passage recommend to all the kind words of the merciful Redeemer, Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life. Christ is the Bread of life, the only food of the soul. All are invited to partake of this heavenly provision.Verse 19. - Every man also. The sentence is anacoluthic, like Ecclesiastes 3:13, and may best be rendered, Also for every man to whom... this is a gift of God. Ginsburg connects the verse closely with the preceding one, supplying, "I have also seen that a man," etc. Whichever way we take the sentence, it comes to the same tiling, implying man's absolute dependence upon God's bounty. To whom God hath given riches and wealth. Before he can enjoy his possessions a man must first receive them from God's hands. The two terms here used are not quite synonymous. While the former word, osher; is used for wealth of any kind whatever, the latter, nekasim, means properly "wealth in cattle," like the Latin pecunia, and thence used generally for riches (volek). Hath given him power to eat thereof. Abundance is useless without the power to enjoy it. This is the gift of God, a great and special bounty from a loving and gracious God. Thus Horace, 'Epist.,' 1:4. 7 -

"Di tibi divitias dederunt artemque fruendi."

"The gods have given you wealth, and (what is more)
Have given you wisdom to enjoy your store."


(Howes.)

to whom

Ecclesiastes 2:24 There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, …

Ecclesiastes 3:13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good …

Ecclesiastes 6:2 A man to whom God has given riches, wealth, and honor, so that he …

Deuteronomy 8:18 But you shall remember the LORD your God: for it is he that gives …

1 Kings 3:13 And I have also given you that which you have not asked, both riches, …

this is

Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, …

5:19 To take - To use what God hath given him.
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