|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:1-7 These verses speak the language of a heart truly humbled, of a broken and contrite spirit under great afflictions, sent to awaken conscience and mortify corruption. Sickness brought sin to his remembrance, and he looked upon it as a token of God's displeasure against him. The affliction of his body will be tolerable, if he has comfort in his soul. Christ's sorest complaint, in his sufferings, was of the trouble of his soul, and the want of his Father's smiles. Every page of Scripture proclaims the fact, that salvation is only of the Lord. Man is a sinner, his case can only be reached by mercy; and never is mercy more illustrious than in restoring backsliders. With good reason we may pray, that if it be the will of God, and he has any further work for us or our friends to do in this world, he will yet spare us or them to serve him. To depart and be with Christ is happiest for the saints; but for them to abide in the flesh is more profitable for the church.
Verse 5. - For in death there is no remembrance of thee (comp. Psalm 30:9; Psalm 88:11; Psalm 115:17; Psalm 118:17; Isaiah 38:18). The general view of the psalmists seems to have been that death was a cessation of the active service of God - whether for a time or permanently, they do not make clear to us. So even Hezekiah, in the passage of Isaiah above quoted. Death is represented as a sleep (Psalm 13:3), but whether there is an awakening from it does not appear. No doubt, as has been said ('Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 4. p. 182), "the cessation of active service, even of remembrance or devotion, does not affect the question of a future restoration," and the metaphor of sleep certainly suggests the idea of an awakening. But such a veil hung over the other world, under the old dispensation, and over the condition of the departed in it, that thought was scarcely exercised upon the subject. Men's duties in this life were what occupied them, and they did not realize that in another they would have employments - much less form any notion of what those employments would be. The grave seemed a place of silence, inaction, tranquillity. In the grave (Hebrew, in Sheol) who shall give thee thanks? (comp. Psalm 115:17, 18).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For in death there is no remembrance of thee,.... Of the goodness, truth, power, and faithfulness of God; no notice can be taken nor mention, made either of the perfections or works of God, whether of nature or of grace, by a dead man to others; he is wholly useless to men on earth with respect to these things;
in the grave who shall give thee thanks? for mercies temporal or spiritual; the dead cannot praise the Lord among men, only the living; see Psalm 30:9; wherefore the psalmist desires that he might live and praise the Lord: this argument is taken from the glory of God, which end cannot be answered among men by death, as by life. It does not follow from hence that the soul either dies or sleeps with the body, and is inactive until the resurrection morn, neither of which are true; or that the souls of departed saints are unemployed in heaven; they are always before the throne, and serve the Lord day and night; they remember, with the utmost gratitude and thankfulness, all the goodness and grace of God unto them, and praise him for all his wondrous works: but the sense is, that when a saint is dead, he can no more serve and glorify God on earth among men.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. (Compare Ps 115:17, 18; Isa 38:18). There is no incredulity as to a future state. The contrast is between this scene of life, and the grave or Sheol, the unseen world of the dead.
give … thanks—or, "praise for mercies."
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