|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:4-10 The most despicable living man's state, is preferable to that of the most noble who have died impenitent. Solomon exhorts the wise and pious to cheerful confidence in God, whatever their condition in life. The meanest morsel, coming from their Father's love, in answer to prayer, will have a peculiar relish. Not that we may set our hearts upon the delights of sense, but what God has given us we may use with wisdom. The joy here described, is the gladness of heart that springs from a sense of the Divine favour. This is the world of service, that to come is the world of recompence. All in their stations, may find some work to do. And above all, sinners have the salvation of their souls to seek after, believers have to prove their faith, adorn the gospel, glorify God, and serve their generation.
Verse 6. - Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now (long ago) perished. All the feelings which are exhibited and developed in the life of the upper world are annihilated (comp. ver. 10). Three are selected as the most potent passions, such as by their strength and activity might ideally be supposed to survive even the stroke of death. But all are now at an end. Neither have they any more a portion forever in any thing that is done under the sun. Between the dead and the living an impassable gulf exists. The view of death here given, intensely gloomy and hopeless as it appears to be, is in conformity with other passages of the Old Testament (see Job 14:10-14; Psalm 6:5; Psalm 30:9; Isaiah 38:10-19; Ecclus. 17:27, 28; Bar. 3:16-19), and that imperfect dispensation. Koheleth and his contemporaries were of those "who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:15); it was Christ who brightened the dark valley, showing the blessedness of those who die in the Lord, bringing life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10). Some expositors have felt the pessimistic utterances of this passage so deeply that they have endeavored to account for them by introducing an atheistic objector, or an intended opposition between flesh and spirit. But there is not a trace of any two such voices, and the suggestion is quite unnecessary. The writer, while believing in the continued existence of the soul, knows little and has little that is cheering to say about it's condition; and what he does say is not inconsistent with a judgment to come, though he has not yet arrived at the enunciation of this great solution. The Vulgate renders the last clause, Nec habent partem in hoc saeculo et in opere quod sub sole geritur. But "forever" is the correct rendering of לְעולָם, and Ginsburg concludes that Jerome's translation can be traced to the Hagadistic interpretation of the verse which restricts its scope to the wicked The author of the Book of Wisdom, writing later, takes a much more hopeful view of death and the departed (see Ecclesiastes 1:15; Ecclesiastes 2:22-24; Ecclesiastes 3:1; 6:18; 8:17; 15:3, etc.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished,.... Not that the separate spirits of the dead are without their affections, or these unexercised; the spirits of just men made perfect will love God and Christ, and angels, and good men, and all that is good, more intensely; love will continue after this life, and be in its height, and therefore said to be the greatest grace, 1 Corinthians 13:13; they will hate sin, Satan, and all the enemies of Christ, and be filled with zeal for his glory; so the word (z) for envy may be rendered; see Revelation 6:9; and the spirits of the wicked dead will still continue to love sin, and hate the Lord, and envy the happiness of the saints; and will rise again with the same spite and malice against them; see Ezekiel 32:27; but this respects persons and things in this world; they no more love persons and things here, nor are loved by any; death parts the best friends, and the most endearing and loving relations, and puts an end to all their mutual friendship and affection; they hate their enemies no more, nor are hated by them; they no more envy the prosperity of others, nor are envied by others; all such kind of love and hatred, enmity and envy, active or passive, cease at death; out of the world, as the Targum adds;
neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is under the sun: the worldly man's portion is only in this life, and when he dies, he carries nothing of it with him; whose ever his possessions will be at death, they are no more his, nor will he ever return to enjoy them any more; his houses, his lands, his estates, his gold and silver, and whatever of worth and value he had, he has no more lot and part in them: but the good man has a portion above the sun; God is his portion, heaven is his inheritance for ever and ever. The Targum understands it of the wicked;
"and they have no good part with the righteous in the world to come; and they have no profit of all that is done in this world under the sun.''
(z) "aemulatio ipsorum", Cocceius, Gejerus; "aelus eorum", Drusius, Amana, Rambachius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. love, and … hatred, &c.—(referring to Ec 9:1; see on Ec 9:1). Not that these cease in a future world absolutely (Eze 32:27; Re 22:11); but as the end of this verse shows, relatively to persons and things in this world. Man's love and hatred can no longer be exercised for good or evil in the same way as here; but the fruits of them remain. What he is at death he remains for ever. "Envy," too, marks the wicked as referred to, since it was therewith that they assailed the righteous (see on Ec 9:1).
portion—Their "portion" was "in this life" (Ps 17:14), that they now "cannot have any more."
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