|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:9-17 The goodness of Providence is more equally distributed than appears to a careless observer. The king needs the common things of life, and the poor share them; they relish their morsel better than he does his luxuries. There are bodily desires which silver itself will not satisfy, much less will worldly abundance satisfy spiritual desires. The more men have, the better house they must keep, the more servants they must employ, the more guests they must entertain, and the more they will have hanging on them. The sleep of the labourer is sweet, not only because he is tired, but because he has little care to break his sleep. The sleep of the diligent Christian, and his long sleep, are sweet; having spent himself and his time in the service of God, he can cheerfully repose in God as his Rest. But those who have every thing else, often fail to secure a good night's sleep; their abundance breaks their rest. Riches do hurt, and draw away the heart from God and duty. Men do hurt with their riches, not only gratifying their own lusts, but oppressing others, and dealing hardly with them. They will see that they have laboured for the wind, when, at death, they find the profit of their labour is all gone like the wind, they know not whither. How ill the covetous worldling bears the calamities of human life! He does not sorrow to repentance, but is angry at the providence of God, angry at all about him; which doubles his affliction.
Verse 15. - The case of the rich man who has lost his property is here generalized. What is true of him is, in a measure, true of every one, so far as he can carry nothing away with him when he dies (Psalm 49:17). As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came. There is a plain reference to Job 1:21, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither." The mother is the earth, human beings being regarded as her offspring. So the psalmist says, "My frame was curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth" (Psalm 139:15). And Ben-Sira, "Great trouble is created for every man, and a heavy yoke is upon the sons of Adam, from the day that they go out of their mother's womb till the day that they return to the mother of all things." 1 Timothy 6:7, "We brought nothing into the world, neither can we carry anything out." Thus Propertius, 'Eleg.,' 3:5. 13 -
"Hand ullas portabis opes Acherontis ad undas,
Nudus ab inferna, stulte, vehere rate."
"No wealth thou'lt take to Acheron's dark shore,
Naked, th' infernal bark will bear thee o'er." Shall take nothing of his labor; rather, for his labor, the preposition being בְּ of price. He gets nothing by his long toil in amassing wealth. Which he may carry away in his hand, as his own possession. The ruined Dives points a moral for all men.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came,.... This may be understood either of the covetous rich man, or of his son; and that supposing what is before said should not be the case of either of them, but they should possess their substance as long as they live; yet, when they come to die, they will be stripped of them all; of their gold and silver, their plate and jewels, and rich household furniture; of their cattle and possessions, farms and estates, which are no longer theirs; and even of their very clothes, and be as naked as they were when they came into the world; and which is indeed the case of every man, Job 1:21; and is used as an argument, and a very forcible one, against covetousness;
and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand; nothing of his substance, which he has got by his labour, and hoarded up with great care; not the least portion of it can he carry away with him when he dies; not any of his jewels, nor bags of gold and silver; and if any of these should be put into his grave, which has been sometimes done at the interment of great personages, these are of no manner of use and service to him, either to comfort and refresh his body, or to save his soul from hell, and procure it an entrance into the heavenly glory; see 1 Timothy 6:7. The Targum allegorizes this in a very orthodox way, not very usual, in favour of original sin, and against the doctrine of merit;
"as he goes out of his mother's womb naked, without a covering, and without any good; so he shall return to go to the house of his grave, indigent of merit, as he came into this world; and no good reward shall he receive by his labour, to take with him into the world to which he goes, that it may be for merit in his hand.''
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