Ecclesiastes 8:15
Then I commended mirth, because a man has no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labor the days of his life, which God gives him under the sun.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) The writer returns to the sentiment expressed already (Ecclesiastes 2:24; Ecclesiastes 3:12; Ecclesiastes 3:22; Ecclesiastes 5:17).

Eat, and to drink, and to be merry.—The three words occur together 1Kings 4:20.

8:14-17 Faith alone can establish the heart in this mixed scene, where the righteous often suffer, and the wicked prosper. Solomon commended joy, and holy security of mind, arising from confidence in God, because a man has no better thing under the sun, though a good man has much better things above the sun, than soberly and thankfully to use the things of this life according to his rank. He would not have us try to give a reason for what God does. But, leaving the Lord to clear up all difficulties in his own time, we may cheerfully enjoy the comforts, and bear up under the trials of life; while peace of conscience and joy in the Holy Ghost will abide in us through all outward changes, and when flesh and heart shall fail.Mirth - Better, Gladness, or "joy" (as in Ecclesiastes 2:10). The Hebrew word is applied not only to the pleasures arising from the physical senses, but also frequently to religious joy. The sentiment of this verse is a frequent conclusion of the writer's personal experience (compare marginal references), and is unfairly charged with Epicureanism. The Preacher is careful to set forth pleasure as a gift from God, to be earned by labor, and received with thankfulness to the Giver, and to be accounted for to Him. His estimate of the pleasures of the senses is recorded in Ecclesiastes 7:2-6. 15. no better thing, &c.—namely, for the "just" man, whose chief good is religion, not for the worldly.

abide—Hebrew, "adhere"; not for ever, but it is the only sure good to be enjoyed from earthly labors (equivalent to "of his labor the days of his life"). Still, the language resembles the skeptical precept (1Co 15:32), introduced only to be refuted; and "abide" is too strong language, perhaps, for a religious man to apply to "eating" and "mirth."

This he speaks, either,

1. In the person of a sensual man. Things being so, as was related, Ecclesiastes 8:14, it is best to give a man’s self up to eating and drinking, and all manner of carnal delights. Or,

2. In his own name and person. Upon these considerations I concluded that it was most advisable for a man not to perplex and torment himself with the thoughts of the seeming inequality of Divine Providence, and of the great disorders which are in the world, or with cares and fears about future events, or with infinite and insatiable desires of worldly things; but quietly, and cheerfully, and thankfully to enjoy the comforts which God gives him. See Poole "Ecclesiastes 2:24 3:12,13.

That shall abide with him of his labour; this is the best advantage which he can make of this world’s goods as to the present life. Then I commended mirth,.... Innocent mirth, a cheerfulness of spirit in whatsoever state condition men are; serenity and tranquillity of mind, thankfulness for what they have, and a free and comfortable use of it; this the wise man praised and recommended to good men, as being much better than to fret at the prosperity of the wicked, and the seemingly unequal distribution of things in this world, and because they had not so much of them: as others; who yet had reason to be thankful for what they had, and to lift up their heads and be cheerful, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God in another world. The Targum interprets it of the joy of the law;

because a man hath no better thing under the sun than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry; of earthly things there is nothing better than for a man freely and cheerfully, with moderation and thankfulness, to enjoy what God has given him; this is what had been observed before, Ecclesiastes 2:24; and is not the language of an epicure, or a carnal man, who observing that no difference is made between the righteous and the wicked, that it is as well or better with the wicked than the righteous, determines to give up himself to sensual lusts and pleasures; but it is the good and wholesome advice of the wise man, for men to be easy under every providence, satisfied with their present condition and circumstances, and be cheerful and pleasant, and not distress themselves about things they cannot alter;

for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life,

which God giveth him under the sun; man's present life is under the sun, and is continued as long as it pleases God; though it is but short, rather to be counted by days than years, and is a laborious one; and all that he gets by his labour, enjoyed by him, is to eat and drink cheerfully; and this he may expect to have and continue with him as long as he lives, even food and raiment, and with this he should be content.

Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than {n} to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.

(n) Read Geneva Ec 3:22

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. Then I commended mirth] As before in chs. Ecclesiastes 2:14, Ecclesiastes 3:12; Ecclesiastes 3:22, Ecclesiastes 5:18, the Epicurean element of thought mingles with the higher fear of God, to which the seeker had just risen. There, at least, in regulated enjoyment, free from vices, and not without the fear of God which keeps men from them, there was something tangible, and it was better to make the best of that than to pine, with unsatisfied desires, after the impossible ideal of a perfectly righteous government in which there are no anomalies. For “of his labour” read in his labour.Verse 15. - Then (and) I commended mirth. In face of the anomalies which meet us in our view of life, Koheleth recommends the calm enjoyment of such blessings and comforts as we possess, in exact accordance with what has already been said (Ecclesiastes 2:24; Ecclesiastes 3:12, 22; Ecclesiastes 5:18), though the road by which he arrives at the conclusion is not identical in both cases. In the earlier chapters the injunction is based on man's inability to be the master of his own fate; in the present passage the inscrutable nature of the law that directs God's moral government leads to the advice to make the best of circumstances. In neither instance need we trace veiled Epicureanism. The result obtained is reached by acute observation supplemented by faith in God. Under the sun. The phrase occurs twice in this verse and again in ver. 17, and implies that the view taken was limited to man's earthly existence. To eat, and to drink, etc. This is not a commendation of a greedy, voluptuous life, but an injunction thankfully to enjoy the good provided by God without disquieting one's self with the mysteries of Providence. So it was said of Israel in its palmy days (1 Kings 4:20), "Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry." For that shall abide with him of his labor; rather, and that this should accompany him in his labor. The Greek Version regards the verb as indicative, not subjunctive, nor, as others, as jussive: "This shall attend (συμπροσέσται) him in his work." But it seems better to consider Koheleth as saying that the happiest thing for a man is to make the best of what he has, and to take with him in all his work a cheerful and contented heart. "All that I have seen, and that, too, directing my heart to all the labour that is done under the sun: to the time when a man rules over a man to his hurt." The relation of the clauses is mistaken by Jerome, Luther, Hengst., Vaih., Ginsburg, and others, who begin a new clause with עת: "there is a time," etc.; and Zckl., who ventures to interpret עת וגו as epexegetical of כּל־מע וגו ("every work that is done under the sun"). The clause ונתון is an adverbial subordinate clause (vid., under Ecclesiastes 4:2): et advertendo quidem animum. עת is accus. of time, as at Jeremiah 51:33; cf. Psalm 4:8, the relation of 'eth asher, like מק שׁ, Ecclesiastes 1:7; Ecclesiastes 11:3. All that, viz., the wisdom of patient fidelity to duty, the perniciousness of revolutionary selfishness, and the suddenness with which the judgment comes, he has seen (for he observed the actions done under the sun), with his own eyes, at the time when man ruled over man לו לרע, not: to his own the ruler's injury (Symm., Jerome), but: to the injury (lxx, Theod., τοῦ κακῶσαι αὐτόν, and thus also the Targ. and Syr.) of this second man; for after 'eth asher, a description and not a judgment was to be expected. The man who rules over man to the hurt of the latter rules as a tyrant; and this whole section, beginning with Ecclesiastes 8:1, treats of the right wisdom of life at a time of tyrannical government.
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