|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 9. - Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest; literally, see life with a wife whom thou lovest. The article is omitted, as the maxim is to be taken generally. In correction of the outspoken condemnation of women in Ecclesiastes 7:26, Koheleth here recognizes the happiness of a home where is found a helpmate beloved and worthy of love (comp. Proverbs 5:18, 19; Proverbs 17:22, on which our passage seems to be founded; and Ecclus. 26:13-18). (For the expression, " see life," vide note on Ecclesiastes 2:1.) St. Jerome's comment is misleading, "Quacumque tibi placuerit feminarum ejus gaude complexu." Some critics translate ishshah here "woman." Thus Cox: "Enjoy thyself with any woman whom thou lovest;" but the best commentators agree that the married state is meant in the text, not mere sensual enjoyment. All the days of the life of thy vanity; i.e. throughout the time of thy quickly passing life. This is repeated after the next clause (though there omitted by the Septuagint and Syriac), in order to emphasize the transitoriness of the present and the consequent wisdom of enjoying it while it lasts. So Horace bids man "carpe diem" ('Carm.,' 1:11.8), "enjoy each atom of the day;'" and Martial sings ('Epigr,' 7:47. 11) -
"Vive velut rapto fugitivaque gaudia carpe."
"Live thou thy life as stolen, and enjoy
Thy quickly fading pleasures." Which he (God) hath given thee under the sun. The relative may refer to either the "wife" or" the days of life." The Septuagint and Vulgate take it as belonging to the latter, and this seems most suitable (comp. Ecclesiastes 5:17). That is thy portion in this life, and in thy labor, etc. Such moderate enjoyment is the recompense allowed by God for the toil which accompanies a properly spent life.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest,.... Or "see", or "enjoy life" (d): this is one of the ways of enjoying life comfortably, and one of the principal ones; that if a man has a wife whom he ought to love as himself as his own flesh, to take delight in her company, be pleasant with her, and rejoice in her, Proverbs 5:18; and this here may be put for all that pleasure and satisfaction which may be lawfully had in the enjoyment of all other relations and friends; which adds no small part to the comfort of a man's life;
all the days of the life of thy vanity; a wife is for life, and not after a while to be divorced; and to be lived joyfully with, not for a short time only, but all the days of life;
which he hath given thee under the sun; that is, either which wife God has given thee; for a wife is the gift of God, Genesis 3:12; and which is a gift under the sun; for above it, or in heaven, and in a future state, there is no marrying nor giving in marriage, Luke 20:35; or which days he hath given thee, so the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions. It is added,
all the days of thy vanity; which is repeated, that it might be observed that the life of man is but a vain life, a vapour that soon vanishes away, and man in it, at his best estate, is vanity; and that notwithstanding all the enjoyments of life in the most comfortable manner here directed to, yet still the doctrine he set out with must be remembered, that all is vanity, Ecclesiastes 1:2;
for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun; this is all the outward happiness of a man in this life, and all the use, profit, and advantage of his labours, to eat and drink cheerfully, to clothe decently, to debar himself of nothing of lawful pleasure, particularly to live joyfully with his wife, and enjoy his friends; this is the utmost of outward felicity he can partake of, and this he should not deny himself. Ben Melech restrains this portion to a wife, and joyful living with her; but it is best to include all that goes before.
(d) "vide vitam", Pagninus, Vatablus, Drusius, Mercerus, Cocceius; "vel vitas", Montanus; "perfruere vita", V. L. "fracre vita", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus, Rambachius; so Broughton.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. wife … lovest—godly and true love, opposed to the "snares" of the "thousand" concubines (Ec 7:26, 28), "among" whom Solomon could not find the true love which joins one man to one woman (Pr 5:15, 18, 19; 18:22; 19:14).
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