|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:16-22 Without the fear of the Lord, man is but vanity; set that aside, and judges will not use their power well. And there is another Judge that stands before the door. With God there is a time for the redressing of grievances, though as yet we see it not. Solomon seems to express his wish that men might perceive, that by choosing this world as their portion, they brought themselves to a level with the beasts, without being free, as they are, from present vexations and a future account. Both return to the dust from whence they were taken. What little reason have we to be proud of our bodies, or bodily accomplishments! But as none can fully comprehend, so few consider properly, the difference between the rational soul of man, and the spirit or life of the beast. The spirit of man goes upward, to be judged, and is then fixed in an unchangeable state of happiness or misery. It is as certain that the spirit of the beast goes downward to the earth; it perishes at death. Surely their case is lamentable, the height of whose hopes and wishes is, that they may die like beasts. Let our inquiry be, how an eternity of existence may be to us an eternity of enjoyment? To answer this, is the grand design of revelation. Jesus is revealed as the Son of God, and the Hope of sinners.
Verse 20. - All go unto one place. All, men and brutes, are buried in the earth (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The author is not thinking of Sheol, the abode of departed spirits, but merely regarding earth as the universal tomb of all creatures. Plumptre quotes Lueretius, 'De Rer. Nat.,' 5:260 -
"Omniparens eadem rerum commune sepulchrum."
"The mother and the sepulcher of all." Thus Bailey, 'Festus' -
"The course of nature seems a course of death;
The prize of life's brief race, to cease to run;
The sole substantial thing, death's nothingness." All are of the dust (Genesis 3:19; Psalm 104:29; Psalm 146:4). So Ecclus. 41:10, "All things that are of earth shall turn to earth again." This is true of the material part of men and brutes alike; the question of the destiny of the immaterial part is touched in the next verse.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
All go unto one place,.... The earth (w) from whence they came;
all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again; Adam's body was made of the dust of the earth, and so all his posterity, all of them; in which they agree with beasts, who are made of the dust also; and, when they die, return to it; see Genesis 2:7.
(w) "Magna parens terra est", Ovid. Metamorph. l. 1. Fab. 7.
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