|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:1-6 A man often has all he needs for outward enjoyment; yet the Lord leaves him so to covetousness or evil dispositions, that he makes no good or comfortable use of what he has. By one means or other his possessions come to strangers; this is vanity, and an evil disease. A numerous family was a matter of fond desire and of high honour among the Hebrews; and long life is the desire of mankind in general. Even with these additions a man may not be able to enjoy his riches, family, and life. Such a man, in his passage through life, seems to have been born for no end or use. And he who has entered on life only for one moment, to quit it the next, has a preferable lot to him who has lived long, but only to suffer.
Verse 6. - Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good. What has been said would still be true even if the man lived two thousand years. The second clause is not the apodosis (as the Authorized Version makes it), but the continuation of the protasis: if he lived the longest life, "and saw not good;" the conclusion is given in the form of a question. The "good" is the enjoyment of life spoken of in ver. 3 (see on Ecclesiastes 2:1). The specified time seems to refer to the age of the patriarchs, none of whom, from Adam to Noah, reached half the limit assigned. Do not all go to one place? viz. to Sheol, the grave (Ecclesiastes 3:20). If a long life were spent in calm enjoyment, it might be preferable to a short one; but when it is passed amid care and annoyance and discontent, it is no better than that which begins and ends in nothingness. The grave receives both, and there is nothing to choose between them, at least in this point of view. Of life as in itself a blessing, a discipline, a school, Koheleth says nothing here; he puts himself in the place of the discontented rich man, and appraises life with his eyes. On the common destiny that awaits peer and peasant, rich and poor, happy and sorrow-laden, we can all remember utterances old and new. Thus Horace, 'Carm.,' 2:3. 20 -
"Divesne prisco natus ab Inacho,
Nil interest, an pauper et infima
De gente sub dive moreris,
Victima nil miserantis Orci.
"Omnes eodem cogimur." Ovid, 'Met.,' 10:33 -
"Omnia debentur vobis, paullumque morati
Serius aut citius sedem properamus ad unam.
Tendimus huc omnes, haec est domus ultima."
"Fate is the lord of all things; soon or late
To one abode we speed, thither we all
Pursue our way, this is our final home."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told,.... Or two thousand years, which no man ever did, nor even one thousand years; Methuselah, the oldest man, did not live so long as that; this is than twice the age of the oldest man: there is one sort of the Ethiopians, who are said (a) to live almost half space of time longer than usual, called from thence Macrobii; which Pliny (b) makes to be one hundred and forty years, which is just double the common term of life. This here is only a supposition. Aben Ezra interprets it, "a thousand thousand", but wrongly; so the Arabic version, "though he lives many thousand years";
yet hath he seen no good, not enjoyed the good of his labour, what he has been labouring for and was possessed of; and therefore has lived so long as he has to very little purpose, and with very little comfort or credit; and especially he has had no experience of spiritual good;
do not all go to one place? that is, the grave; they do, even all men; it is the house appointed for all living, Job 30:23; and hither go both the abortive, and the covetous rich man; so that he has in this no pre-eminence to it. Jarchi interprets it of hell, the one place, whither all sinners go; but the former sense is best.
(a) Mela tie Situ Orbis, l. 3. c. 9. (b) Nat. Hist. 1. 7. c. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. If the miser's length of "life" be thought to raise him above the abortive, Solomon answers that long life, without enjoying real good, is but lengthened misery, and riches cannot exempt him from going whither "all go." He is fit neither for life, nor death, nor eternity.
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