|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
39:1-6 If an evil thought should arise in the mind, suppress it. Watchfulness in the habit, is the bridle upon the head; watchfulness in acts, is the hand upon the bridle. When not able to separate from wicked men, we should remember they will watch our words, and turn them, if they can, to our disadvantage. Sometimes it may be necessary to keep silence, even from good words; but in general we are wrong when backward to engage in edifying discourse. Impatience is a sin that has its cause within ourselves, and that is, musing; and its ill effects upon ourselves, and that is no less than burning. In our greatest health and prosperity, every man is altogether vanity, he cannot live long; he may die soon. This is an undoubted truth, but we are very unwilling to believe it. Therefore let us pray that God would enlighten our minds by his Holy Spirit, and fill our hearts with his grace, that we may be ready for death every day and hour.
Verse 6. - Surely every man walketh in a vain show; literally, in an image, or "as an image;" i.e. with a mere semblance of life, but without the reality. Surely they are disquieted in vain. Their restless strivings are to no end, have no result. He heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them (comp. Job 27:16, 17; Ecclesiastes 2:18, 21).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Surely every man walketh in a vain show,.... Or "in an image" (z); not "in the image of the Lord", as the Targum; in the image in which God created man, for that is lost; nor in that which is stamped on men in regeneration; for every man does not walk in that; rather in the image of fallen man, in which every man is born and walks: or "in a shadow" (a); or like one; to which the days of man's life are often compared, 1 Chronicles 29:15; and who, for the most part, busies himself in shadowy and imaginary things; agreeably to all which the poet says (b),
"I see that we who live are nothing else but images, and a vain shadow.''
Some (c) interpret it of "the shadow of death"; and others (d) of "darkness" itself; and it fitly expresses the state of unregeneracy and darkness in which every man walks without the grace of God; and which will end in utter darkness, if that does not prevent it; and which is called "a walking in the vanity of the mind", Ephesians 4:17. Here it seems rather to intend the outward show, pomp, and grandeur of every great man; of emperors, kings, princes, nobles, and the great men of the world; which is all a vain show, a glittering appearance for a while, a glory that passeth away, and will not descend after them when laid in the grave, and oftentimes lasts not so long;
surely they are disquieted in vain; about vain things, as riches and honours, which are fickle and unstable; and sometimes in vain are all the carking cares and disquietude of the mind, and toil and labour of the body, which are here referred to, to obtain these things; some rise early, and sit up late, and yet eat the bread of sorrow; and if they gain their point, yet do not find the pleasure and satisfaction in them they promised themselves and expected;
he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them: according to Jarchi, the metaphor seems to be taken from a man that has been ploughing and sowing, and reaping and laying up the increase of the field in heaps, and yet knows not who shall gather it into the barn, seeing he may die before it is gathered in; compare with this Luke 12:16; or the meaning is, when a man has amassed a prodigious deal of wealth together, he knows not who shall enjoy it, whether a son or a servant, a friend or a foe, a good man or a bad man, a wise man or a fool, Ecclesiastes 2:18.
(z) "in imagine", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Piscator, Cocceius, Michaelis. (a) "In umbra", Gejerus; "instar umbrae", Musculus; vid. Hackman. Praecidan. Sacr. tom. 1. p. 82. (b) Sophoclis Ajax, v. 125, 126. (c) Donesh in Jarchi in loc. (d) Jarchi & Kimchi in loc. & R. Jonah in Miclol Yophi in loc.
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