Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.…
"Full of years" is not a mere synonym for longevity. The expression is by no means a usual one. It is applied to Isaac at the close of his calm, contemplative life, to David at the end of his stormy and adventurous career, to the high priest Jehoiada, and to the patriarch Job. We shall understand its meaning better if, instead of "full of years," we read "satisfied with years." The words point to a calm close, with all desires granted, with hot wishes stilled, and a willingness to let life go, because all which it could give had been attained. We have two main things to consider.
1. The tranquil close of life.
(1) It is possible, at the close of life, to feel that it has satisfied our wishes. Abraham had had a richly varied life. It had brought him all he wished. Satisfied, yet not sickened, keenly appreciating all the good and pleasantness of life, and yet quite willing to let it go, Abraham died.
(2) It is possible at the end of life to feel that it is complete, because the days have accomplished for us the highest purpose of life.
(3) It is possible, at the end of life, to be willing to go as satisfied.
2. Consider the glimpse of the joyful society beyond, which is given us in that other remarkable expression of the text, "He was gathered to his people." The words contain a dim intimation of something beyond this present life:(1) Dimly, vaguely, but unmistakably, there is here expressed a premonition and feeling after the thought of an immortal self in Abraham, which was not in the cave at Machpelah, but was somewhere else, and was for ever.
(2) Abraham had been an exile all his life; but now his true social life is begun. He dwells with his own tribe; he is at home: he is in the city.
(3) The expression suggests that in the future men shall be associated according to affinity and character.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.