Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.
I. THE CHARACTER THAT IS HERE GIVEN OF GOOD MEN. They are righteous and upright. Which words may stand —
1. As terms of the same import and signification. Every righteous man is an upright man; and the upright man is the only righteous man. Or —
2. They may be put as explanative of each other. The righteous and the upright man is the sincerely righteous man. Not one who is so in reputation and appearance only, but in deed and in truth; who takes more care to be good than appear so; who is not only righteous in life, but upright in heart.
II. THE PRESENT STATE OF GOOD MEN IMPLIED, viz. Darkness and Sorrow.
1. Darkness denotes either ignorance, or a state of doubts and fears. In either sense it may be here applied.
2. Their ignorance and doubts produce much sorrow.
III. THE HAPPINESS OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND UPRIGHT MAN'S STATE IN THE OTHER WORLD, expressed in the text by light and gladness.
1. Heaven is a state of light.
(1) When the righteous are admitted into the heavenly world their knowledge shall be greatly increased.
(a) Their intellectual powers will then be very much strengthened and enlarged.
(b) A great variety of new and unthought of objects will be continually offering themselves.We shall then have a much more plain and perfect conception of those things which we now think we do know. The facility with which this knowledge shall be acquired will add not a little to the pleasure of the acquisition. Our knowledge then will be perpetually progressive, or for ever increasing.
(2) As darkness not only implies ignorance but doubtfulness and uncertainty, so light implies not only knowledge but stability and assurance.
2. Illustrate the other branch of the saint's blessedness in heaven denoted by the word gladness.
(1) Some of the chief properties of that joy and gladness which is prepared for the saints in heaven. To begin with the lowest, it will be a total freedom from every kind of pain and uneasiness. To rise a step higher, in heaven there will not only be a perfect freedom from all pain, but an enjoyment of the most solid and satisfying pleasure. The saint's pleasures in heaven shall be constant and uninterrupted. Their variety will be equal to their purity. The happiness of the saints in heaven will be an unenvied happiness. To crown all, this joy will be everlasting. There will be no fear either of an interruption, or a period of it.
(2) The source of all this happiness, or whence it flows. One thing which to be sure will greatly contribute to this unspeakable degree of gladness and felicity which the righteous shall enjoy in heaven is their eternal release and freedom from a body of sin and death. The natural faculties and powers of the soul will be then strengthened and preserved in their full vigour and exercise. Not only the natural, but the moral powers of the mind will then be in a state of perfection, and every grace and virtue be complete. Much of our happiness will arise from the survey of the glorious objects which will all around open to our intellectual view; and which we shall see, if not with bodily eyes, yet with as clear and satisfying a perception as that conveyed by the organs of sense. Our perpetual advances in knowledge will be the perpetual increase of our happiness. Joy shall spring up in their souls from the immediate, free, and uninterrupted efflux and communication of it from God Himself; whose smiles shall inspire them with heavenly gladness, and fill them with satisfaction unutterable. If to this we add the society to which the glorified saints will be admitted, we have then all the principal sources of their happiness in heaven.
IV. THE METAPHOR. "Light is sown," etc. This implies —
1. Something must be done by the righteous now, in order to their being partakers of that happiness which is prepared for them in heaven.
2. Though the future blessedness of the righteous must now be sown by themselves, yet it is nevertheless the free gift of God.
3. The saints on earth should patiently wait for their glory in heaven (James 5:7).
4. They should encourage themselves with the hopes and prospects of it, and thankfully acknowledge those providences and dispensations which tend to prepare and fit them for it; as the husbandman does those fruitful and suitable seasons which raise his hopes of a plentiful harvest.
(J. Mason, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.