Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ecclesiastes 11:8

Indeed, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything that is to come will be futility.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Death;   Joy;   Thompson Chain Reference - Dark Days;   Death;   Life-Death;   Man;   Readiness;   The Topic Concordance - Vanity;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Joy;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Memorial;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, Book of;   Time, Meaning of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ecclesiastes;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Dark;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for August 13;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

If a man live many years - And even have prosperity through the whole; yet the days of darkness - times of affliction, weakness, and perhaps old age, will be many. If he die not a violent death, which no man can wish, he will die a lingering death; and this is ordinarily attended with many pains, and many sorrows; therefore let him prepare to meet his God; and to carry this thought through life, that all must terminate in death. The writer of Ecclesiasticus, 7:36, has a good saying, similar to this: "Whatsoever thou takest in hand, remember thy End; and thou shalt never do amiss;" ουκ ἁμαρτησεις, thou wilt not sin.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But if a man live many years,.... Enjoying light and life, and beholding the sun with much delight and pleasure. The days of men on earth, or under the sun, are but few at most; but some live many days, in comparison of others; they come to a good old age, as Abraham did; and to their graves like a shock of corn fully ripe; and arrive to, or beyond, the common term of human life;

and rejoice in them all; in and throughout the many years he lives, even all his days; that is, is blessed with a plentiful portion of the good things of life, and enjoys them in a free and comfortable manner, with moderation and thankfulness; partakes of the good of his labour, and rejoices in his works, in the fruit and effects of them, through the blessing of divine Providence; not only is blessed with many days, but those days good ones, days of prosperity: such a man is in a happy case; and especially if he is possessed of spiritual joy, of joy in the Holy Ghost; if he rejoices in Christ, and in what he is to him, and has done for him; and having professed him, and submitted to his ordinances, goes on his way, rejoicing. Some render it, "let him rejoice in them all"F23בכלם ישמח "in eis omnibus laetetur", Junius & Tremellius, Mercerus, Cocceius, Gejerus. ; a good man has reason to rejoice always, throughout the whole course of his life; because of the goodness of divine Providence to him; because of the blessings of grace bestowed on him; and because of his good hope of eternal glory and happiness. The Targum is,

"in all these it becomes him to rejoice, and to study in the law of the Lord;'

yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many; or, "they may be"F24כי הרבה יהיה "quia multi sint", Amama, so some in Drusius; "quod multi futuri sint", Piscator, Gejerus, Rambachius. ; meaning either, that though persons may live long, and enjoy much health and prosperity; yet, in the midst of all, they should consider, that it is possible that days of adversity and distress may come upon them, and continue; and therefore should not please themselves, as Job did, that they shall die in their nest in the height their prosperity, since they know not what days of evil may come, and how long they will last; or, however, they should remember the night of death, that is hastening, the land of darkness, and the shadow of death, they are going to; the dark grave, they will soon be laid in, where they will remain many days; many more than those in which they have lived, enjoying the light of the sun, even till the heavens shall be no more; though these days will not be infinite, they will have an end, and there will be a resurrection from the dead: and particularly if a man is a wicked man, that has lived a long and prosperous life, he should not only remember the above things; but also that outer darkness, that blackness of darkness reserved for him, the darkness of eternal death, which will be his portion for evermore. The Targum is,

"he shall remember the days of the darkness of death, and shall not sin; for many are the days that he shall lie dead in the house of the grave.'

All that cometh is vanity; Aben Ezra interprets this of every man that comes into the world, as in Ecclesiastes 1:2; whether high or low, rich or poor, in prosperity or adversity; man, at his best estate, is vanity: let a man therefore be in what circumstances he will, he should not take up his rest here; all that comes to him, everything that befalls him, is vanity. The wise man keeps in view the main thing he proposed, to prove that is vanity, all in this life; for what is to come hereafter, in a future state of happiness, cannot come under this name and character.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

But if a man shall live many years, [and] rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of g darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh [is] vanity.

(g) That is, of affliction and trouble.
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

But while man thankfully enjoys life, “let him remember” it will not last for ever. The “many days of darkness,” that is, the unseen world (Job 10:21, Job 10:22; Psalm 88:12), also days of “evil” in this world (Ecclesiastes 11:2), are coming; therefore sow the good seed while life and good days last, which are not too long for accomplishing life‘s duties.

All that cometh — that is, All that followeth in the evil and dark days is vain, as far as work for God is concerned (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.

Rejoice — Enjoy all the comforts, and escape all the embitterments of human life, all his days.

Darkness — Of death, or of the state of the dead.

Many — Far more than the days of this short life.

All — All things which befall any man belonging only to this life, are but vain, because they are short and transitory.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Ecclesiastes 11:8 But if a man live many years, [and] rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh [is] vanity.

Ver. 8. But if a man live many years and rejoice, &c., ] q.d., Say he live pancratice et basilice, and sit many years in the world’s warm sunshine, yet he must not build upon a perpetuity, as good Job did, but was deceived, when he said, "I shall die in my nest," [Job 29:18] and holy David, when he concluded, "I shall never be moved." [Psalms 30:6] For as sure as the night follows the day, a change will come, a storm will rise, and such a storm as to wicked worldlings will never be blown over. Look for it, therefore, and be wise in time. "Remember the days of darkness," that is, of adversity, but especially of death and the grave. The hottest season hath lightning and thunder. The sea is never so smooth but it may be troubled; the mountain not so firm but it may be shaken with an earthquake. Light will be one day turned into darkness, pleasure into pain, delights into wearisomeness, and the dark days of old age and death far exceed in number the lightsome days of life, which are but a warm gleam, a momentary glance. Let this be seriously pondered, and it will much rebate the edge of our desires after earthly vanities. "Dearly beloved," saith St Peter, "I beseech you, as pilgrims and strangers abstain from fleshy lust," &c., [1 Peter 2:12] q.d., The sad and sober apprehension of this, that you are here but sojourners for a season, and must away to your long home, will lay your lusts a-bleeding and a-dying at your feet. It is an observation of a commentator upon this text, that when Samuel had anointed Saul to be king, to confirm unto him the truth of the joy, and by it to teach him how to be careful in governing his joy, he gave him this sign, "When thou art departed from me today, thou shalt find two men at Rachel’s sepulchre." [1 Samuel 10:2] For he that findeth in his mind a remembrance of his grave and sepulchre, will not easily be found exorbitant in his delights and joys; for this it was, belike, that Joseph of Arimathea had his sepulchre ready hewn out in his garden. The Egyptians carried about the table a death’s head at their feasts; (a) and the emperors of Constantinople, on their coronation day, had a mason appointed to present unto them certain marble stones, using these ensuing words -

Elige ab his saxis ex quo, invictissime Caesar,

Ipse tibi tumulum me fabricare velis. ”

“Choose, mighty sir, under which of these stones,

Your pleasure is, erelong, to lay your bones.”

{a} Isidor.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ecclesiastes 11:8. But if a man live many years Yet, if a man was to live many years in a continual enjoyment of pleasure, and should remember that the days of darkness shall be many; all that is past is vanity.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Live many years; which is a privilege granted but to few persons comparatively.

And rejoice in them all; and suppose he enjoy all the comforts, and escape all the embitterments, of human life, all his days; which also is a great rarity.

Let him remember, it is his duty and interest seriously to consider, the days of darkness; of death, or of the state of the dead, which is oft expressed by darkness, as Job 10:21 Psalms 88:12, &c., and here is opposed to the foregoing light.

They shall be many, i.e. far more than the days of this short life, especially if to the time of lying in the grave be added that greater and utter darkness which is reserved for impenitent sinners, and which is everlasting, Matthew 22:13 25:30 2 Peter 2:17 Jude 1:13. And this is added for the caution of mankind, that they may not rejoice excessively in, nor content themselves with, the happiness of the present life, but may seek for something more durable, and more satisfactory.

All that cometh; all things which befall any man belonging only to this life, whether they be comfortable or vexatious, they are but vain and inconsiderable, because they are short and transitory.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

8.But if, etc. — Better, Even though a man live many years let him rejoice in them all. This course of activity and kindness should be maintained to the last. In this way the longest life will have the longest sunshine. Not long ago Koheleth was urging the brevity of life, and the length of the abode in the grave, as the reason for grasping the largest possible amount of pleasure: now, from a higher view, he urges the same as the reason for the unceasing activity of nobler things — of kindness and generosity and benevolence.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

And the. Hebrew, "for they are many. What comes to pass is vanity." (Montanus) --- Nothing can more effectually repress the love of this world, Ecclesiasticus vii. 40. After Solomon has presented the objections of the wicked, he comes to this conclusion.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

"Indeed, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. Everything that is to come will be futility."

"if a man should live many years"-note the word "if". God doesn"t guarantee a long life to any one of us.

"let him rejoice in them all"-God believes that throughout life, in every stage of life, from youth to old age-life can be appreciated and enjoyed. In fact, here is a direct command to enjoy every stage of your life. The Apostle Paul had learned this secret (Philippians ).

"the days of darkness, for they shall be many"-Some feel that the "days of darkness" refers to the time of old age. Others, that it refers to the time you spend in the grave or Sheol. But such "days" aren"t dark for the believer (Luke ff; Philippians 1:21-23). It just seems to me that the days of darkness would refer to the days of hardship or calamity. Yes, the days of darkness will be many, even for believers. Hard times do not mean that God doesn"t love you. Enjoy life, and don"t let trials and hardships turn you into a cynical or bitter person. Don"t allow the days of darkness to remove your joy and appreciation in being allowed to live.

"Everything that is to come will be futility"-this is another truth that we are to remember as we are enjoying life. This doesn"t mean that there isn"t an afterlife, or that everything you do in life is meaningless, for it isn"t (2 Corinthians ). But it is saying, "As you are enjoying life, just remember that all your earthly accomplishments are only temporary". Hence, make sure that you accomplish something that will endure (Matthew 6:19-20). In addition, never let "joy" and "good times" be the ultimate goal in your life. Rejoice! But never allow rejoicing to become your god. Remember why you are rejoicing!

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

man. Hebrew. "adam (with Art.) App-14. See note on Ecclesiastes 1:13.

and rejoice = let him rejoice.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.

But if a man live many years, (and) rejoice in them all. So Vulgate, supplying 'and.' Rather, as Chaldaic, Syriac, and Arabic, translate, without ellipsis, 'For' [ kiy (Hebrew #3588)] or 'Yea, even if a man live many years, let him (not tire of life, but) rejoice in them all.'

Days of darkness. But while man thankfully enjoys life, "let him remember" it will not last forever. The 'many days of darkness' - i:e., while the body and its powers lie in the dark grave (Job 10:21-22); also days of "evil" in this world (Ecclesiastes 11:2) - are coming; therefore enjoy life, and saw the good seed while life and good days last, which are not too long for accomplishing life's duties.

All that cometh - i:e., All that followeth in the evil and dark days is vain, as far as work for God is concerned (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(8) Days of darkness.—Psalms 88:12; Psalms 143:3; Job 10:21. (Comp. also Psalms 56:13; Job 33:30.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.
if a man
6:6; 8:12
rejoice
3:12,13; 5:18-20; 8:15
yet
7:14; 12:1-5; Deuteronomy 32:29; Job 10:22; 14:10; 15:23; 18:18; Jeremiah 13:16; Joel 2:2; Matthew 22:13; John 12:35; Jude 1:18
All that
2:1-11,15,17,19,21-23,26; 4:8,16; 5:15,16; 6:11
Reciprocal: Ecclesiastes 1:2 - GeneralEcclesiastes 12:2 - the sun

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/ecclesiastes-11.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ecclesiastes 11:8.Christhas brought life and immortality to light. For him who is in Christ the argument has no longer the weight it had under the old covenant: we can no more allow the light of this life to be darkened by the shadow of Sheol. To be weary of life is, however, still a sin, even under the new Covenant. A pious heart will seek out the bright sides of our earthly existence, and contemplate them with sincere thankfulness.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:8". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/ecclesiastes-11.html.