|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.
Verses 7-12. - These verses give the application of the facts just mentioned. The inscrutability of the moral government of the world, the uncertainty of life, the condition of the dead, lead to the conclusion again that one should use one's life to the best advantage; and Koheleth repeats his caution concerning the issues and duration of life. Verse 7. - Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy. This is not an injunction to lead a selfish life of Epicurean pleasure; but taking the limited view to which he here confines himself, the Preacher inculcates the practical wisdom of looking at the bright side of things; he says in effect (though he takes care afterwards to correct a wrong impression which might be given)," Let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we die" (1 Corinthians 15:32). We have had the same counsel in Ecclesiastes 2:24; Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13, 22; Ecclesiastes 5:18; Ecclesiastes 8:15. Drink thy wine with a merry heart. Wine was not an accompaniment of meals usually; it -was reserved for feasts and solemn occasions. Bread and wine are here regarded as the necessary means of support and comfort (comp. Ecclesiastes 10:19; Genesis 14:18; 1 Samuel 16:20, etc.). The moderate use of wine is nowhere forbidden; there is no law in the Old Testament against the use of intoxicating drinks; the employment of such fluids as cordials, exhilarating, strengthening and comforting, is often referred to (comp. Judges 9:13; Psalm 104:15; Proverbs 31:6, 7; Ecclus. 31:27, 28). Thus Koheleth's advice, taken even literally, is not contrary to the spirit of his religion. For God now (long ago) accepteth thy works. The "works" are not moral or religious doings, in reward of which God gives temporal blessings, which is plainly opposed to Koheleth's chief contention in all this passage. The works are the eating and drinking just mentioned. By the constitution of man's nature, and by the ordering of Providence, such capacity of enjoyment is allowable, and there need be no scruple in using it. Such things are God's good gifts, and to be received with reverence and thanksgiving; and he who thus employs them is well-pleasing unto the Lord (Ecclesiastes 2:24; Ecclesiastes 8:15).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Go thy way,.... Thou righteous man, as Jarchi paraphrases it; and indeed epicures and voluptuous persons have no need of the following exhortation, and the reason annexed is not suitable to them; but the whole agrees better with religious persons, who under distressing views of Providence, and from gloomy and melancholy apprehensions of things, and mistaken notions of mortification, deny themselves the free and lawful use of the good things of life; and seeing there is no enjoyment of them in the grave, and after death, therefore let the following advice be taken, than which of worldly things nothing is better for a man to do;
eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; which includes all things necessary and convenient, and which should be used and enjoyed freely and cheerfully; not barely for refreshment, but recreation; not for necessity only, but for pleasure; yet with moderation, not to excess; and with thankfulness to God; and the rather joy and mirth should mix with these things, since to a good man they are in love. It may be observed that it is said "thy bread and thy wine", thine own and not another's; what is got by labour, and in an honest way, and not by rapine and oppression, as Alshech observes; what God in his providence gives, our daily food, what is convenient for us, or is our portion and allotment. The Targum interprets it figuratively of the joys of heaven;
"Solomon said, by a spirit of prophecy from the Lord, the Lord of the world will say to all the righteous, in the face of everyone, eat thy bread with joy, which is laid up for thee, for thy bread which thou hast given to the poor and needy that were hungry; and drink thy wine with a good heart, which is laid up for thee in paradise, for the wine which thou hast mingled for the poor and needy that were thirsty;''
see Matthew 25:34;
for God now accepteth thy works; both the persons of righteous and good men are accepted of God in Christ, and their works done in faith and love, and with a view to his glory; and since they are acceptable in his sight, as appears by his blessing on their labours, and bestowing the good things of life upon them, so it is well pleasing in his sight to make a free and cheerful use of them.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. Addressed to the "righteous wise," spoken of in Ec 9:1. Being "in the hand of God," who now accepteth "thy works" in His service, as He has previously accepted thy person (Ge 4:4), thou mayest "eat … with a cheerful (not sensually 'merry') heart" (Ec 3:13; 5:18; Ac 2:46).
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