|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:7-10 Life is sweet to bad men, because they have their portion in this life; it is sweet to good men, because it is the time of preparation for a better; it is sweet to all. Here is a caution to think of death, even when life is most sweet. Solomon makes an effecting address to young persons. They would desire opportunity to pursue every pleasure. Then follow your desires, but be assured that God will call you into judgment. How many give loose to every appetite, and rush into every vicious pleasure! But God registers every one of their sinful thoughts and desires, their idle words and wicked words. If they would avoid remorse and terror, if they would have hope and comfort on a dying bed, if they would escape misery here and hereafter, let them remember the vanity of youthful pleasures. That Solomon means to condemn the pleasures of sin is evident. His object is to draw the young to purer and more lasting joys. This is not the language of one grudging youthful pleasures, because he can no longer partake of them; but of one who has, by a miracle of mercy, been brought back in safety. He would persuade the young from trying a course whence so few return. If the young would live a life of true happiness, if they would secure happiness hereafter, let them remember their Creator in the days of their youth.
Verses 7-9. - Section 17. The second remedy for the perplexities of the present life is cheerfulness - the spirit that enjoys the present, with a chastened regard to the future. Verse 7. - Truly the light is sweet. The verse begins with the copula ray, "and," which here notes merely transition, as Ecclesiastes 3:16; Ecclesiastes 12:9. Do not be perplexed, or despondent, or paralyzed in your work, by the difficulties that meet you. Confront them with a cheerful mien, and enjoy life while it lasts. "The light" may be taken literally, or as equivalent to life. The very light, with all that it unfolds, all that it beautifies, all that it quickens, is a pleasure; life is worth living, and affords high and merited enjoyment to the faithful worker. The commentators quote parallels Thus Euripides, 'Iph. in Aul.,' 1219 -
Μή μ ἀπολέσῃς ἄωρον ἡδύ γὰρ τὸ φῶς
Λεύσσειν τὰ δ ὐπὸ γῆν μή μ ἰδεῖν ἀναγκάσῃς
"O slay me not untimely; for to see
The light is sweet; and force me not to view
The secrets of the nether world." Plumptre cites Theognis -
Κείσομαι ὤστε λίθος
Αφθογγος λείψω δ ἐρατὸν φάος ἠελίοιο
"Then shall I lie, as voiceless as a stone,
And see no more the loved light of the sun." A pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun. To behold the sun is to enjoy life; for light, which is life, is derived from the sun. Virgil speaks of "coeli spirabile lumen" ('AEn.,' 3:600). Thus Homer, 'Od.,' 20:207 -
Αἴ που ἔπι ζώει καὶ ὁρᾷ φάος ἠελίοιο
Αἰ δ ἤδη τέθνηκε καὶ εἰν Αι'´δαο δόμοισιν.
"If still he live and see the sun's fair light,
Or dead, be dwelling in the realms of Hades."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Truly the light is sweet,.... Here begins a new subject, as most think; and some here begin the twelfth and last chapter, and not improperly. This is true of natural light, which is exceeding pleasant, useful, and beneficial; by which men discern objects, behold the things of nature with pleasure, walk in the way without stumbling, and do the work and business of life: and also of civil light or prosperity; for, as afflictions are expressed by darkness, and adversity by night; so the comforts and good things of life by light and day, which are very desirable and delectable: and here "life" itself may be meant, for light is sometimes put for life, which is the light of the living; and what sweeter and more desirable than that, especially a life attended with prosperity and peace? see Job 33:28. The Targum and Jarchi interpret it of the light of the law; and which is indeed a light, and so is the whole word of God, Proverbs 6:23, 2 Peter 1:19; but may be better applied unto the Gospel, which is a great and glorious light, Isaiah 9:2; and a means of enlightening dark minds; not only of showing men their sinfulness, as the law does; but the insufficiency of their righteousness, of all their own goodness and good works to justify; it reveals Christ, and the glories of his person; it sets him forth evidently, as crucified and slain, for the worst of sinners; it makes manifest his fulness, ability, and willingness, as a Saviour; righteousness, peace, pardon, and salvation by him; it makes known things not to be discerned by the light of nature, even things wonderful and marvellous, as well as what is the way a man should walk in: and this light is sweet and pleasant, not to a blind and carnal man, who despises it, and reckons it foolishness, but to those who are enlightened by the Spirit of God; and to these it is very delightful, even to all their senses; it is sweet to their taste, a joyful sound to their ears, and beautiful to their sight are the feet of them that bring its good tidings. The light of grace, which appears in first conversion, and comes from God suddenly, which at first is small, but increases, is exceeding pleasant, strikes the soul with delight and wonder; it is marvellous light, 1 Peter 2:9; and so is the light of joy and gladness to believers, when it arises to them after a time of darkness, or the light of God's countenance, Psalm 4:6; and such will be the light of the latter day glory, and more especially the light of the heavenly state;
and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun; the natural sun, shining at noon day, which is a luminous and glorious body, communicating light and heat to all the world: which is so glorious and so pleasant to behold, that Anaxagoras, the philosopher, being asked what he was born for, answered,
"to see the heavens, the sun, and the moon (t);''
and Eudoxus, another philosopher, said,
"he could be content to perish, could he get so near to the sun as to learn the nature of it (u).''
To "see the sun", in the language of this book, is to live in this world, and to enjoy the light of the sun, and the comforts of life; see Ecclesiastes 7:11; and now a life, attended with outward prosperity and inward peace, that is spent in doing and enjoying good, is a very desirable and delightful one; though such a man should not think of living always, but of death, and the days of darkness, as in Ecclesiastes 11:8. This may he applied to Christ, the sun of righteousness, Psalm 84:11; the fountain of all spiritual light and heat; the brightness of his Father's glory; and who is superior to angels and men; and is to be beheld by faith, and in his own light, as the sun is; and whom to look upon with an eye of faith is exceeding pleasant and delightful, and fills with joy unspeakable and full of glory, 1 Peter 1:8.
(t) Laert. in Vita Anaxag. p. 95. Lactant. de Fals. Sap. l. 3. c. 9. (u) Plutarch, vol. 2. p. 1094.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. light—of life (Ec 7:11; Ps 49:19). Life is enjoyable, especially to the godly.
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