Ecclesiastes 9:7
Go your way, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God now accepts your works.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Accepteth.—The thought has been expressed before (Ecclesiastes 2:24; Ecclesiastes 8:15), that earthly enjoyment is to be received as given by God’s favour.

Ecclesiastes 9:7-9. Go thy way — Make this use of what I have said. Eat thy bread — Thy necessary and convenient food; with joy, &c. — Cheerfully enjoy thy comforts, avoiding all distracting care and grief for the occurrences of this world. For God now accepteth thy works — Whosoever thou art, that art truly pious and upright before him, he is gracious unto thee, accepts thy services for his honour, and allows thee a comfortable enjoyment of his blessings. Let thy garments be always white — In all convenient times and circumstances; for there are times of mourning. The eastern people of the best sort used white garments, especially in times of rejoicing. But by this whiteness of garments he seems to intend a pleasant and cheerful conversation. And let thy head lack no ointment — Which, upon joyful occasions, was poured upon men’s heads. Live joyfully with thy wife — The one wife, whom thou lovest. Love her, and keep thyself only to her, avoiding all improper intercourse and familiarity with all other women, and thou wilt live comfortably with her; all the days of thy vanity — Of this vain and frail life: which expression he uses to moderate men’s affections even toward lawful pleasures, and to admonish them of their duty and interest in making sure of a better life, and more solid comforts. For that is thy portion — Allowed thee by God; and the best part of worldly enjoyments; in this life — By which addition he again reminds him of the duty of seeking another and better portion in a future life.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.Read these six verses connectedly, in order to arrive at the meaning of the writer; and compare Ecclesiastes 2:1-12.

After the description Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 of the portionless condition of the dead, the next thought which occurs is that the man who is prosperous and active should simply enjoy his portion all through this life Ecclesiastes 9:7-10; and then Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 follows the correcting thought (see Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 note), introduced as usual Ecclesiastes 2:12; Ecclesiastes 4:1, Ecclesiastes 4:7 by "I returned," namely, that the course of events is disposed and regulated by another will than that of man.

The person addressed is one whose life of labor is already pleasing to God, and who bears visible tokens of God's favor.

Ecclesiastes 9:7

Now accepteth - Rather: "already has pleasure in." Joy (the marginal reference note) is regarded as a sign of the approbation and favor of God.

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). Go thy way, make this use of what I have said,

eat thy bread; thine own, the fruit of thy own labours, not what thou takest unjustly from others. Bread; necessary and convenient food; by which he excludes excess.

With a merry heart; cheerfully and thankfully enjoy thy comforts, avoiding all distracting care and grief for the occurrences of this world.

God now accepteth thy works; is gracious to thee, hath blessed thy labours with success, and alloweth thee a comfortable enjoyment of his blessings. 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.

Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now {d} accepteth thy works.

(d) They flatter themselves to be in God's favour, because they have all things in abundance.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy] The Debater falls back, as before, on the Epicurean rule of tranquil regulated enjoyment, as in chs. Ecclesiastes 2:24, Ecclesiastes 3:12; Ecclesiastes 3:22, Ecclesiastes 5:18. Life was after all liveable, if a man would but set himself to look at its brighter side. The specific mention of “wine” for the first time in this connexion does not imply anything more than the moderate use of it commended in Proverbs 31:6; Psalm 104:15. What is asserted, is that asceticism is not the right remedy for pessimism. Experience indeed seems to shew that too often it does but intensify it. Whatever else might be doubtful, if such a life were accepted as God’s gift (chs. Ecclesiastes 2:24, Ecclesiastes 8:15), He approved of the deeds of the man who so lived. The “other, and more cheerful, voice” utters a protest against the mere gloom of despair. We have oscillations of thought, but not, as some have supposed, the maxims of a sensualist introduced only to be condemned.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). "For all this I brought to my consciousness, and all this I sought to make clear to me, that the righteous, and the wise, and their deeds, are in God's hands: neither love nor hatred stands in the knowledge of man, all lies before them." With ki follows the verification of what is said in Ecclesiastes 8:17, "is unable to find out," from the fact of men, even the best and the wisest of men, being on all sides conditioned. This conditioning is a fact which he layeth to his heart (Ecclesiastes 7:2), or (since he here presents himself less as a feeling than as a thinking man, and the heart as reflecting) which he has brought to his consciousness, and which he has sought to bring out into clearness. ולבוּל has here not the force of an inf. absol., so that it subordinates itself in an adverbial manner (et ventilando quidem) - for it nowhere stands in the same rank with the inf. absol.; but the inf. with ל (ל) has the force of an intentional (with a tendency) fut., since the governing הייתי, as at Ecclesiastes 3:15, היה, and at Habakkuk 1:17, יהיה, is to be supplied (vid., comm. on these passages, and under Isaiah 44:14): operam dedi ut ventilarem (excuterem), or shorter: ventilaturus fui. Regarding the form לבוּר, which is metapl. for לבר, and the double idea of sifting (particularly winnowing, ventilare) of the R. בר, vid., under Ecclesiastes 3:18. In the post-bibl. Heb. the words להעמיד על בוריו would denote the very same as is here expressed by the brief significant word לבוּר; a matter in the clearness of its actual condition is called בוריו דבר על (from לברי, after the form חלי, purity, vid., Buxtorf's Lex. Talm. col. 366). The lxx and Syr. have read ראה ולבי instead of ולבור, apparently because they could not see their way with it: "And my heart has seen all this." The expression "all this" refers both times to what follows; asher is, as at Ecclesiastes 8:12, relat. conj., in the sense of ὃτι, quod, and introduces, as at Ecclesiastes 7:29, cf. Ecclesiastes 8:14, the unfolding of the זה - an unfolding, viz., of the conditioning of man, which Ecclesiastes 8:17 declared on one side of it, and whose further verification is here placed in view with ki, Ecclesiastes 9:1. The righteous, and the wise, and their doings, are in God's hand, i.e., power (Psalm 31:16; Proverbs 21:1; Job 12:10, etc.); as well their persons as their actions, in respect of their last cause, are conditioned by God, the Governor of the world and the Former of history; also the righteous and the wise learn to feel this dependence, not only in their being and in what befalls them, but also in their conduct; also this is not fully attained, לאל ידם, they are also therein not sufficient of themselves. Regarding 'avadēhěm, corresponding to the Aram. 'ovadēhon, vid., 'avad.

The expression now following cannot mean that man does not know whether he will experience the love or hatred of God, i.e., providences of a happy nature proceeding from the love of God, or of an unhappy nature proceeding from the hatred of God (J. D. Michaelis, Knobel, Vaih., Hengst., Zckl.), for אהבה and שׂן are too general for this, - man is thus, as the expression denotes, not the obj., but the subj. to both. Rightly, Hitz., as also Ewald: "Since man has not his actions in his own power, he knows not whether he will love or hate." Certainly this sounds deterministic; but is it not true that personal sympathies and antipathies, from which love and hatred unfold themselves, come within the sphere of man, not only as to their objects, in consequence of the divine arrangement, but also in themselves anticipate the knowledge and the will of man? and is it less true that the love which he now cherishes toward another man changes itself, without his previous knowledge, by means of unexpected causes, into hatred, and, on the other hand, the hatred into love? Neither love nor hatred is the product of a man's self-determination; but self-determination, and with it the function of freedom, begins for the first time over against those already present, in their beginnings. In הכּל לף, "by all that is before him," that is brought to a general expression, in which לפני has not the ethical meaning proceeding from the local: before them, prae equals penes eos (vid., Song, under Sol 8:12), but the purely local meaning, and referred to time: love, hatred, and generally all things, stand before man; God causes them to meet him (cf. the use of הקרה); they belong to the future, which is beyond his power. Thus the Targ., Symm., and most modern interpreters; on the contrary, Luther: "neither the love nor the hatred of any one which he has for himself," which is, linguistically, purely impossible; Kleinert: "Neither the love nor the hatred of things does man see through, nor anything else which is before his eyes," for which we ought at least to have had the words לפניו גם הכל אשׁר; and Tyler: "Men discern neither love nor hatred in all that is before them," as if the text were אשׁר בכל. The future can, it is true, be designated by אחרית, and the past by לפנים, but according to the most natural way of representation (vid., Orelli's Synon. der Zeit, p. 14) the future is that which lies before a man, and the past that which is behind him. The question is of importance, which of the two words לף הכל has the accent. If the accent be on לף, then the meaning is, that all lies before men deprived of their freedom; if the accent be on הכל, then the meaning is, that all things, events of all kinds, lie before them, and that God determines which shall happen to them. The latter is more accordant with the order of words lying before us, and shows itself to be that which is intended by the further progress of the thoughts. Every possible thing may befall a man - what actually meets him is the determination and providence of God. The determination is not according to the moral condition of a man, so that the one can guide to no certain conclusion as to the other.

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