Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ecclesiastes 11:9

Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Amusements and Worldly Pleasures;   Children;   God Continued...;   Joy;   Judgment;   Sensuality;   Worldliness;   Thompson Chain Reference - Sin;   Sins;   Young Men;   Young People;   Youth, Sins of;   The Topic Concordance - Children;   Judges;   Vanity;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Amusements and Pleasures, Worldly;   Joy;   Judgment, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Judgment;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Judgment, Last;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Judgment, the Final;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, the Book of;   Law;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ecclesiastes;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Walk (2);   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Judgment the day of;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Cheer;   Eschatology of the Old Testament (with Apocryphal and Apocalyptic Writings);   Young Men;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Happiness;   Joy;   Talmud;   Yeẓ;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for August 13;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth - Youth is devoid of cares; and, consequently, of many perplexities and distresses. Were it not so, we should have no old men; nay, perhaps not one even of middle ape. It is in the order of a most gracious God, that the young should rejoice in their youth; but they should make such a moderate use of all their enjoyments, that they may not be confounded in the day of judgment. But, O young man, if thou wilt follow the propensities of thy own heart, the noisy mirth of the fool, and the dissipation of the profligate - go on; take thy full swing; but take this with thee, that "for all these things, God will judge thee;" and if the righteous are scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth,.... This advice may be considered as serious; and either as relating to natural, corporeal, and temporal delight and pleasure, under due limitations; that as mirth and cheerfulness, or a free use of the creatures of God, with moderation and temperance, is allowable to all men in common, and is spoken of throughout this book as commendable, and is healthful and profitable to men; so it is particularly suitable to the youthful age, whose natural desires may be enjoyed, and their outward senses may be gratified, in a lawful way, so far as is consistent with the fear of God, and the expectation of a future judgment: or it may be considered with respect to religious and spiritual exercises; as young men should remember their Creator in the days of their youth, as it follows; so they should rejoice in God their Maker, Psalm 149:2; they should rejoice not to do evil, to which human nature is inclined, especially in youth, but to do good; should rejoice, not in the ways of sin, but in the ways of wisdom; not in any outward attainment of beauty, wit, strength, or riches, but in the grace of God; not in themselves, or their boastings, but in Christ, his person, righteousness, and salvation; not in the things of time and sense, but in hope of the glory of God;

and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth; here is a different word for youth than the former, which Alshech distinguishes thus; the first designs the time to the age of thirteen, and this from thence to twenty. Or, "let thine heart do thee good", so the Septuagint. The Targum is,

"and let thine heart be good in thee.'

Symmachus renders it, "and let thine heart be in good"; the thoughts of thine heart be employed about that which is good, spiritual, heavenly, and divine; the affections of thine heart set thereon; and the will and desires of thine heart be drawn out after such things: let thine heart prompt and put thee on doing that which is good, with delight and pleasure; but, in order, to all this, the heart must be made good by the spirit and grace of God;

and walk in the ways of thy heart; being created a clean one, sprinkled, purged, and purified by the blood of Christ; in which the fear of God is put; the laws of God are written; where Christ is formed, and his word dwells richly, and he himself by faith, where the Spirit of God and his graces are: and then to walk in the ways of such a heart is to walk in the fear of God, according to his word, as Christ is an example; and to walk after the spirit, and not after the flesh. The Septuagint and Arabic versions are, "and walk in the ways of thine heart unblamable": the Targum,

"and walk in humility in the ways of thine heart:'

which all agree with the sense given: so Alshech interprets the ways of the heart; of the ways of the good imagination of good men;

and in the sight of thine eyes; as enlightened by the Spirit of God, directing and guiding in the way in which a man should walk; looking unto Jesus, all the while he is walking or running his Christian race; and walking in him, as he has received him; pressing towards him, the mark, for the prize of the high calling. The Targum is,

"and be cautious of the sight of thine eyes, and look not upon evil.'

The Septuagint and Arabic versions insert the negative; "and not in the sight of thine eyes". Most interpreters understand all this its an ironic concession to young men, to indulge themselves in carnal mirth, to take their swing of sinful pleasures, to do all their corrupt hearts incline them to; and to gratify their outward senses and carnal lusts to the uttermost; even the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life, which young men are most addicted to: do all this, as if it was said, and see what will be the issue of it; or, do all this if you can, with this one thing bore in mind, a future judgment; like those expressions in 1 Kings 22:15; and to this sense the following clause is thought most to incline: and the rather, as the above phrases are generally used in a bad sense;

but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment; not temporal, but eternal; not in this present life, but in the world to come; the judgment that will be after death, the last and awful judgment; and which is certain, may be known; of which a man may be assured from the light of nature, and from divine revelation; See Gill on Ecclesiastes 3:17; into which all men will be brought, even whether they will or not; and every work shall be brought into it, good or bad, open or secret, Ecclesiastes 12:14. Wherefore "these things" may respect either; and the consideration of a future judgment should influence the lives of men, and engage them both to perform acts of piety and religion in youth, and throughout the whole of life, and to shun and avoid everything that is evil. HerodotusF25Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 78. speaks of a custom among the Egyptians, at their feasts; that, just at the close of them, one carries about in a coffin the image of a dead man, exactly like one, made of wood, the length of a cubit or two, showing it to all the guests; saying, look upon it, drink, and take pleasure, for such shalt thou be when dead.

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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.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

h Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the sight of thy eyes: but know thou, that for all these [things] God will bring thee into judgment.

(h) He derides them who set their desire in worldly pleasures as though God would not call count.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

God will bring thee into judgment” (Ecclesiastes 3:17; Ecclesiastes 12:14).

youth  …  youth — distinct Hebrew words, adolescence or boyhood (before Ecclesiastes 11:10), and full-grown youth. It marks the gradual progress in self-indulgence, to which the young especially are prone; they see the roses, but do not discover the thorns, until pierced by them. Religion will cost self-denial, but the want of it infinitely more (Luke 14:28).

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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.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

“Rejoice, young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know, that for all this God will bring thee to judgment.” The parallel בּימי shows that the beth in בּילד (with ד aspirated) does not introduce the reason of the joy, but the time suitable for it. Instead of veyithav libbecha, “let thy heart be of good cheer,” as the expression might also be, the words are vithivecha libbecha, “make thy heart of good cheer to thee,” - so, viz., that from this centre brightness may irradiate thy countenance (Proverbs 15:13) and thy whole personality, vid ., Psychologie, p. 249. Vehhuroth, the period of youth, is here and at Ecclesiastes 12:1 = Numbers 11:28, vehhurim, as the only once occurring ne'uroth, Jeremiah 32:30, is = the elsewhere generally used ne'urim ; the form in ôth is the more modern (cf. keluloth, Jeremiah 2:2). “Ways of the heart” are thus ways into which the impulse of the heart leads, and which satisfy the heart. מר עין, at Ecclesiastes 6:9, designates the pleasure felt in the presence of the object before one; here, a sight which draws and fastens the eyes upon it. The Chethı̂b has the plur. מראי, which is known to the language (Daniel 1:15; Song of Solomon 2:14), and which would here designate the multitude of the objects which delight the eyes, which is not unsuitable; the Pih . הלּך denotes also elsewhere, frequently, e.g., Psalms 131:1, walking, in an ethical sense; Hitz., Zöckl., and others interpret the first ב as specifying the sphere, and the second as specifying the norm (“according to the sight of thine eyes”); but they both introduce that wherein he ought to act freely and joyfully: in the ways of thy heart, into which it draws thee; and in the sight of thine eyes, towards which they direct themselves with interest. The lxx B. renders, “and not after the sight of thine eyes.” This “not” ( μή ), which is wanting in A.C., is an interpolation, in view of the warning, Numbers 15:39, against following the impulse of the heart and of the eyes; the Targ. also therefore has: “be prudent with reference to the sight of thine eyes.” But this moralizing of the text is superfluous, since the call to the youthful enjoyment of life is accompanied with the nota bene : but know that God will bring thee to an account for all this; and thus it excludes sinful sensual desire. In the midst of an address, where a yet closer definition follows, בּמש is thus punctuated, Ecclesiastes 12:14; Job 14:3; Psalms 143:3; here, in the conclusion of the sentence, it is במש . Hitzig supposes that there is denoted by it, that the sins of youth are punished by chronic disease and abandonment in old age; Knobel and others understand by the judgment, the self-punishment of sins by all manner of evil consequences, which the O.T. looks upon as divinely inflicted penalties. But in view of the facts of experience, that God's righteous requital is in this life too frequently escaped, Ecclesiastes 8:14, the author, here and at Ecclesiastes 3:17; Ecclesiastes 12:14, postulates a final judgment, which removes the contradiction of this present time, and which must thus be in the future; he has no clear idea of the time and manner of this final judgment, but his faith in God places the certainty of it beyond all doubt. The call to rejoice is now completed by the call to avoid all that occasions inward and outward sorrow.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1854-1889.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

Rejoice — Indulge thy humour, and take thy fill of delights.

And walk — Whatsoever thine eye or heart lusteth after, deny it not to them.

But know — But in the midst of thy jollity consider thy reckoning.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Ecclesiastes 11:9 Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these [things] God will bring thee into judgment.

Ver. 9. Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth,] i.e., Do if thou darest; like as God said to Balaam, "Rise up and go to Balak" [Numbers 22:20] - that is, go if thou thinkest it good; go since thou wilt need to go; but thou goest upon thy death. Let no man imagine that it ever came into the Preacher’s heart here, oleum camino addere, to add fuel to the fire of youthful lusts, to excite young people, unruly enough of themselves, to take their full swing in sinful pleasures. Thus to do might better befit a Protagoras, of whom Plato (a) reports, that he many times boasted, that whereas he had lived sixty years, forty of those sixty he had spent in corrupting those young men that had been his pupils; or that old dotterel in Terence, that said, Non est mihi, crede, flagitium adolescentem helluari, potare, scortari, fores effringere: I hold it no fault for young men to swagger, drink, drab, revel, &c. Solomon in this text, either by a mimesis brings in the wild younker thus bespeaking himself, Rejoice, my soul, in thy youth, &c., and then nips him on the crown again with that stinging "but" in the end of the verse; or else, which I rather think, by an ironic concession he bids him "rejoice," &c., yields him what he would have, by way of mockage and bitter scoff; like as Elijah jeered the Baalites, bidding them cry aloud unto their drowsy or busy god; or as Micaiah bade Ahab, by a holy scoff, go up against Ramothgilead and prosper; or as our Saviour bade his drowsy desciples, "Sleep on now, and take your rest," [Mark 14:41] viz., if you can at least, or have any mind to it, with so many bills and halberds about your ears.

And let thine heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth.] In diebus electionum tuarum, so Arias Montanus reads it; In the days of thy choosings - that is, when thou followest the choice and the chase of thine own desires, and doest what thou wilt without control. [Luke 12:45]

Walk in the way of thine heart.] Which bids thee eat, drink, and be merry, and had as lief be knocked on the head as do otherwise. Hence fasting is called an "afflicting of the soul"; and the best find it no less grievous to go about holy duties, than it is to children to be called from their sports, and set to their books.

And in the sight of thine eyes.] Those windows of wickedness, and loop holes of lust.

But know.] Here is that which mars all the mirth, here is a cooler for the younker’s courage, sour sauce to his deserts, for fear he should surfeit. Verba haec Solomonis valde ernphatica sunt, saith Lavater. There is a great deal of emphasis in these words of Solomon. Let me tell thee this as a preacher, saith he; and oh that I could get words to gore the very soul with smarting pain, that this doctrine might be written in thy flesh!

That for all these things.] These tricae, as the world accounts them; these trifles and tricks of youth, which Job and David bitterly bewailed as sore businesses.

God will bring thee to judgment.] Either in this life, as he did Absalom and Adonijah, Hophni and Phinehas, Nadab and Abihu, or infallibly at thy death’s day, which indeed is thy dooms day; then God will bring thee perforce, be thou never so loath to come to it; he will hail thee to his tribunal, be it never so much against thy heart, and against the hair with thee. And as for the judgment what it shall be, God himself shows it in Isaiah 28:17, "Judgment will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place." Where, what is the hail, saith one, but the multitude of accusations which shall sweep away the vain hope that men have, that the infinite mercy of God will save them, howsoever they live? And what is the hiding place, but the multitude of excuses which men are ready to make for themselves, and which the waters of God’s justice shall quite destroy and overthrow? Young men, of all men, are apt to make a covenant with death, and to put far away from them the thought of judgment. But it moves them not so to do; for Senibus mors in ianuis, adolescentibus in insidiis, saith Bernard. Death doth not always knock at the door, but comes often like a lightning or thunderbolt; it blasteth the green grain, and consumeth the new and strong building. Now at death it will fare nothing better with the wild and wicked youngster, than with that thief, that having stolen a gelding, rideth away bravely mounted, till such time as being overtaken by hue and cry, he is soon afterwards sentenced and put to death.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Ecclesiastes 11:9

(with Philippians 4:4)

We may accept these words as in very deed the counsel of the Preacher, as embodying the wisdom which he had learned from God. As such they assert a truth in which all of us, whether young or old, have some share.

I. They tell those who are called to the work of teaching or of guiding youth that all systems of education which tend to repress or coerce its natural elasticity are at variance with the Divine order as well as with man's nature.

II. Again, I read in the Preacher's words a warning against a fault into which as we advance in life we are all liable to fall. We allow the cares and anxieties of middle age to possess us wholly; we are careful and troubled about many things. The grave responsibilities of duty or the eager striving after wealth are dominant in us; and we lose our capacity for enjoyment, and become intolerant of the overflowing life of joy which for us has passed away. And so we lose the blessings which God designed for us in making youth the season of enjoyment and clothing it with so much grace and brightness.

III. But the chief lesson of the words is for those to whom they are addressed. The young man is told that he is to rejoice in his youth. That is God's gift to him; and he should neither reject it by yielding to dark, sullen, moody thoughts, nor waste it in thoughtless profusion, nor defile it by acts of sin.

IV. There are, however, memorable words that accompany this counsel—words which have sometimes been allowed to darken and overshadow it, but which we must not on that account ignore: "Know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment." That cheerfulness and joy of thine does not exempt thee from the great law of retribution which runs through the whole order of man's life. These words are designed to regulate and purify that which, in the absence of that remembrance, so soon overpasses its right bounds and becomes tainted with evil.

E. H. Plumptre, King's College Sermons, p. 1.


Was this a strain of savage irony? Was it the mocking wail of one who had done all these things in the very worst sense you can put upon them, and found out, in unspeakable bitterness of heart, what came of it all? Looking before the text and after it, thinking of the general scope and tendency of the whole book of Ecclesiastes, one would say that all the text conveys is this great truth, which we all find out as we grow older, that the reckoning always comes. There is no harm in rejoicing in hopeful youth; God made youth for that. Only remember for steadying and sobering, not for saddening, that the reckoning will come; that through all these things you are sowing, and that you will reap by-and-bye.

I. Solomon was right in this sense, that for all enjoyment, ay, for all you do, for hard work, and privation, and trial too, the reckoning comes, the painful reckoning; for all these things God will bring you into judgment as for the enjoyments of your early days: and the reckoning may be a very heavy one. Even where the present frost is not the direct outcome of the past sunshine, no more sorrowful experience can be known by any human heart than the awful blankness which is expressed by the one word "gone." To have had and to have lost—that is Solomon's judgment in the text.

II. But you will not escape the reckoning, go which way you may. Rejoice or not rejoice, God will bring you into judgment. We must through much tribulation enter into what home soever we may reach at the last. The text does but tell us that the troubles tend to increase towards the journey's end. There is but one choice we can make, and be sure we shall never repent; it is the choice of Christ, the choice of life and good in Him. Make that choice. As for every other choice you make, you will have to enter into judgment for it. But this will abide the trial of that great day.

A. K. H. B., From a Quiet Place, p. 1.


I. There are perhaps two senses in which a portion of these words might be understood. (1) It may mean that youth is the appointed season of joy and gladness, and that God will have it made so. It may say, Rejoice, O young man—for it is God's will—in the days of thy youth. Only remember, amidst thy mirth and gladness, that coming judgment which will one day take account of all. (2) Or the sense may be not so much in the spirit of encouragement as of warning. If thou rejoice in thy youth so as to resign thyself without check or reserve to its pleasures, then know thou that, bright as earth may seem to thee, full of joys and tolerant of forgetfulness, yet in due time for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

II. Each of these interpretations has a just and true meaning. "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth." God will have it so. If youth were not a season of joy, of few cares and abounding pleasures, who would live to old age? nay, who would be fit for the burden and heat of life's middle day? Rejoice then while you may. But if thou wilt forget God and enshrine thyself in the sanctuary which was built and furnished for Him, then take with thee this thought, to be thy counsellor if thou wilt, thy scourge if thou wilt not: that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment; and if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

C. J. Vaughan, Harrow Sermons, 2nd series, p. 523.


What is the Christian application of the words, "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth "?

I. They may warn those who have the care of youth not to lay too much on the young. Sadden not the hearts which God would not make sad. Let there be at least one period of life on which the memory may rest hereafter gladly, a fountain from which the heart may perpetually renew its faith that unalloyed happiness is not unattainable.

II. Let the young believe, what all experience shows, that it is possible to rejoice in youth and at the same time to remember judgment. For pleasure is not life, but the reflex and incidental evidence to us of the life that is there. And while there are most certainly springs of gladness, which may prove hereafter to be the means of enriching life, let the heart which thinks it can discern such blessings be very careful in the use of them. How much may depend on the strength or weakness shown in this, the experienced alone can tell.

III. Let the young rejoice in youth, for it is the beginning of all things; it has possibilities which may well seem infinite. The strain, the conflict, the dust and strife, the heat and burden of the day, are to come afterwards; meanwhile the young are gathering strength in abundant leisure, that in the evil day they may be able to stand. Let us see that it is strength that they are gathering, and not weakness, and then we will not grudge them the brightness of moments which we can never know again.

IV. Let not the young be too ready to imagine that they are able to stand alone and to be a law unto themselves. It is one of the purest sources of joy in youth that it has the power of leaning upon an example, of looking up with reverence to another. It has the belief in human goodness unimpaired. It would be a sad thing if the disintegration of society were to proceed so far, that even this feeling should lose its freshness.

V. It would be wrong to forget that there are some to whom youth is not a time of joy, to whom their first severe trials come at a time when they are least able to bear them, a time when to feel sorrow is to think it impossible ever to smile again. It would be mockery to teach them to rejoice, perhaps even to speak to them of joy. But in fact life is full of compensations; and though the traces of early sorrow may long remain, yet it may have opened depths within them which long afterwards may become a source of truest blessing.

L. Campbell, Some Aspects of the Christian Ideal, p. 134.


We interpret this verse as a simple precept, containing no irony, nor bitterness, nor threatening, but merely an injunction to Christian joy in youth—Christian joy in youth limited, tested, and directed by the prospect of judgment. When we turn to St. Paul to know the principles on which we are to make our rejoicing a Christian one, we find that in the passages in which he urges the duty of rejoicing he puts forward two principal reasons of joy. The one is in the Epistle to the Philippians: "Rejoice in the Lord;" and the other in the Epistle to the Romans: "Rejoicing in hope." Consider how these grounds of Christian rejoicing affect the young.

I. "Rejoice in the Lord." The familiar phrase "in the Lord" is one which really contains very deep and solemn meaning. It signifies that Christians are, in some signal and mysterious manner, "in Christ." Being in Him, they must stand fast in Him; being in Him, they are alike in Him, whether they are alive on the earth, standing fast in Him, or whether they sleep in Him. In Him they thank God acceptably; in Him it is their life to be. We then are in Christ, and St. Paul tells us that we are to rejoice therein: "Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, Rejoice;" "Rejoice that ye are in the Lord, and being in the Lord, rejoice." This rejoicing belongs to the young Christian as fully as to the old. If he has not yet had the time or opportunity for great advances towards Christian perfection, at least he is less far removed from the days of his baptismal innocence. Grace is yet unclouded by inveterate sin. His heart is still open to the freshness of early lessons, to the depth of first impressions, to the heartiness of childish duty. Thus he may rejoice in his youth, and let his heart naturally cheer him in the days of his youth.

II. "Rejoicing in hope." The hopes which are the ground of Christian joy are: (1) the hope that our present state of privilege and blessing "in the Lord" shall continue to us while we live, and (2) that in the final judgment we shall be received to the fulness of that inheritance of which we are heirs already. Hope might almost be called the natural privilege of youth. The loving and happy Christian hope often shines as brightly in infant and youthful hearts as even in mature and aged saints. If it be less of a deliberate and reflective feeling, it is more spontaneous and simple, insomuch that many a child who has been early trained to know God, His constant presence, His power, and His love, leans upon Him and trusts Him with the same unhesitating hope and cheerful confidence with which he trusts his earthly parents.

G. Moberly, Sermons at Winchester College, p. 209.


References: Ecclesiastes 11:9.—F. W. Farrar, In the Days of thy Youth, p. 89; G. Dawson, Sermons on Daily Life and Duty, p. 105; W. Spensley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 20; J. Sherman, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 97. Ecclesiastes 11:9, Ecclesiastes 11:10.—R. Dixon, Penny Pulpit, No. 631; B. Jowett, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 204; J. Bennet, The Wisdom of the King, p. 406. 11—C. Bridges, An Exposition of Ecclesiastes, p. 263. 11, 12—G. G. Bradley, Lectures on Ecclesiastes, p. 123.



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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/ecclesiastes-11.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ecclesiastes 11:9. In the days of thy youth In the days of thy wishes.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1801-1803.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 845

YOUTH WARNED OF THE FUTURE JUDGMENT

Ecclesiastes 11:9. Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things, God will bring thee into judgment.

EARTHLY pleasure is doubtless gratifying to flesh and blood: hence it is more or less an object of desire to all: but there are two considerations which may well abate our ardour in the pursuit, namely, that its gratifications will soon come to an end; and that there is an approaching judgment, at which we must give an account of all that we have ever done in the body, and receive from God’s mouth a sentence corresponding with the tenour of our past life. In the verses preceding our text, the former consideration is urged; and we are told, that, however protracted our pleasures may be, they are but like a winter’s sun, which will soon set in darkness, and be followed by a long and dreary night. Such a night is not far off, even from those who are in the very morning of life. It may be hastened prematurely, as it were, by sickness, and care, and unavoidable misfortunes; and it must come at last through the infirmities of age, which, if our life be prolonged, will make it but “labour and sorrow.” The latter consideration is suggested in the text, which contains two things:

I. A keen remonstrance.

The address here made to youth, though it appears like a concession, is not really so—

[It has been thought by some to be a concession, recommending youth to enjoy themselves in the world; only to do it in such a way as not to endanger their happiness in a future life. And it is certain that there are in this book many concessions to that effect [Note: Ecclesiastes 2:24; Ecclesiastes 3:12-13; Ecclesiastes 5:18-19.] — — — Such passages as these may indeed be easily pressed too far: but, on the other hand, they are not in general understood by the religious world. Religious people are apt to imagine, that Christianity requires an utter abandonment of those things which the carnal mind affects; and that a pious person who possesses any considerable measure of earthly comforts, is necessarily inconsistent in his conduct. But this is a mistake, and a mistake which greatly needs to be rectified; because it occasions many unjust censures, and uncharitable reflections. “God has given us all things richly to enjoy [Note: 1 Timothy 6:17.]:” and, provided we do not spend an undue portion of our substance on earthly indulgences, or set our affections upon them, there is nothing in Christianity which prohibits a reasonable use, and a temperate enjoyment of them. If only we sit loose to them in our hearts, and enjoy God in them, they are perfectly lawful; yea, “they are sanctified to us by the word of God and prayer [Note: 1 Timothy 4:4-5.].”

But it is not in this sense that the address before us is to be understood:]

It is, on the contrary, a just and severe remonstrance—

[The terms here used are such as cannot well be taken in a good sense. To “walk in the ways of our own heart, and in the sight of our own eyes,” is equivalent to walking in the ways of criminal self-indulgence. This is the import of these expressions in other passages of Scripture [Note: Numbers 15:39. Deuteronomy 29:19.] — — — and so they must be taken here; as is evident from the awful judgments with which such indulgences are menaced in out text. The text is, in fact, an ironical remonstrance, similar to that which Elijah uttered, when he condemned the worshippers of Baal; “Cry aloud; for he is a God [Note: 1 Kings 18:27.]:” and that by which Micaiah reproved the impolicy of Ahab; “Go up to Ramoth-Gilead, and prosper [Note: 1 Kings 22:15.].” By this kind of irony Solomon intended to convey an idea, that young men are bent on such indulgences; that they promise themselves security in the midst of them; and that they will not be prevailed on by more temperate re-proof: and, in this view, his words may be thus paraphrased: ‘You will, notwithstanding all that I can say to dissuade you from it, go on in the ways of sin, persuading yourselves that nothing but happiness awaits you: and therefore go on; and follow the bent of your own inclinations: but know, that in the end you will find yourselves grievously disappointed.’ Severe as such a remonstrance is, it is perfectly just: for, who that considers what the great end of our being is, can doubt the wickedness of living to the world and to the flesh? or who that sees how contrary such conduct is to that of Christ and his apostles, can doubt what the issue of such a life shall be? Verily, “if we mind earthly things, we are enemies to the cross of Christ, and our end will be destruction [Note: Philippians 3:18-19.];” for, whatever may be said or thought to the contrary, “to be carnally-minded is death [Note: Romans 8:6.].”]

To this is annexed,

II. A solemn warning—

There is a day of judgment fast approaching—

[God will most assuredly “judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, even by his Son, Jesus Christ.” Before his tribunal we must all appear: the young, as well as the old, shall then give up their account to him; and the things which we did in the earlier part of life shall be brought forth for judgment, as well as those which were done at a more advanced age. The book of God’s remembrance shall be opened; and every thing that was recorded in it, from the first moment of our existence to the latest breath we drew, shall be adduced as illustrative of our true character, and as the ground of God’s final sentence.]

Then shall the things which are now done receive their proper reward—

[The judgment of God will not then be regulated by our views, but by his own unerring wisdom. We may palliate a life of vanity and worldliness now; but he will view it as indeed it is, as a life of rebellion against him. It argues a total alienation of heart from him: it shews that we lived to please ourselves rather than him, and that we were in reality a god unto ourselves. He had told us plainly, “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die:” but we would not believe it. He had told us, that “the broad road, in which the many are walking, leadeth to destruction; and that the narrow way alone leadeth unto life:” but we would not be persuaded that such an awful declaration should ever be verified. Nevertheless so it will be found in the last day: and of this we may be perfectly assured: for it stands on the word of God, which is as immutable as God himself: “Know thou, that for all these things God will call thee into judgment.”]

Address—

1. Those who seek their happiness in earthly things—

[Say not, You commit no gross sin, and therefore have no cause to fear. The question simply is, Do you walk after the way of your own heart? If you do, it matters little what path you choose, whether it be that of open, or secret sin: you are equally living without God in the world, and are equally obnoxious to his heavy displeasure. I mean not by this to say, that all sins are alike, or that gross immoralities will not augment your guilt and condemnation in the last day. But this is an undoubted truth, that he only who gives up himself to God in this world, can ever dwell with him in the world to come: for “if we sow to the flesh, we shall of the flesh reap corruption: and it is only from sowing to the Spirit, that we can hope to reap life everlasting.” Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we would persuade you, whilst yet we may avert from you the impending storm: we would persuade thee in particular, O young man, that thou mayest not any longer deceive thy soul, and dream of happiness in another world, when thou art only “treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath.”]

2. Those who are seeking happiness in the ways of God—

[Say whether thou hast not found more solid joy in the ways of God, than ever thou foundest in the vanities of the world? Say whether thou hast not found it better to “mortify thy members upon earth,” than to indulge them; and to live to God, rather than to live unto thyself? The joy thou now hast is legitimate: it is such as prophets and apostles had before thee; and such as God has freely conceded to thee, to the utmost extent of all thy wishes: “Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.” Indeed thy present joys are the gift of God to thy soul. Go on then “rejoicing in the Lord always:” yea, rejoice, if so it may be, “with a joy that is unspeakable and glorified.” These joys will never make the future judgment formidable; on the contrary, they will help to prepare thee for it, inasmuch as they are themselves an earnest of thine everlasting inheritance.]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1832.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

This verse is to be understood either,

1. As a serious advice to this purpose, Seeing life is short and transitory, improve it to the best advantage, take comfort in it whilst you may, only do it with moderation, and the fear of God. Or rather,

2. As an ironical concession, such as are usual both in Scripture, as 1 Kings 18:27 22:15 Ezekiel 28:3,4 Mt 26:45, and in other authors; for this agrees much better with the context, and with the expressions here used. And so the sense is, I foresee what evil use some men will make of what I have now said. Things being thus, let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die; as they also reasoned, 1 Corinthians 15:32.

O young man; he speaks to young men particularly, because they have both the greatest ability and the strongest inclinations to pursue sensual pleasures, and are most impatient either of restraint or admonition.

Let thy heart cheer thee; indulge thy frolic and jolly humour, and take thy fill of delights.

Walk in the way of thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; whatsoever thine eye or heart lusteth after, deny it not to them; as this phrase is taken. Numbers 15:39, nor is it ever used in a good sense. Compare Job 31:7 Psalms 81:12 Jeremiah 18:12 2 Peter 2:14 1 John 2:16. But know thou; but in the midst of thy feastings and jollity it will become thee, if thou art a reasonable creature, to consider thy reckoning, and whether thou dost not purchase thy gold too dear.

For all these things, for all thy follies and sinful lusts, which thou slightest as tricks of youth,

God will bring thee into judgment; will force thee to appear before his judgment-seat, to give a serious account of all thy youthful and exorbitant courses, and to receive that sentence which thy own conscience will then say thou dost justly deserve. And if thou likest thy sensuality upon these terms, much good may it do thee; I do not envy thee, nor desire to partake of thy delicates.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". 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

9.Know thou, etc. — The writer now, like a mariner, discerns a final guiding star. Having looked at human life from various points, and reasoned his way through many theories and suggestions, he sees that, crowning every consideration, however copious, of earthly good, the true restraint and hope and consolation of the soul, at every turn of its fortune, is in the future judgment of God. Lifting his eye above the sad uniformity of sorrow and death, he discerns the great event of the hereafter, and is comforted.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Ecclesiastes 11:9. Rejoice, &c. — This is an ironical concession, like many which occur in the Scriptures, (see 1 Kings 18:27; 1 Kings 22:15; Ezekiel 28:3-4; Matthew 26:45,) and in other authors: O young man, in thy youth — He speaks to young men particularly, because they have both the greatest ability and the strongest inclination to pursue sensual pleasure, and are most impatient, either of restraint or admonition, Let thy heart cheer thee, &c. — Indulge thy humour. and take thy fill of delights. And walk in the way of thy heart, &c. — Whatsoever thine eye or heart lusteth after, deny it not to them. But know thou — But in the midst of thy feasting, jollity, and mirth, consider thy reckoning, and whether thou dost not purchase thy delights at too high a price: that for all these things — For all thy sinful lusts and follies; God will bring thee to judgment — Will force thee to appear before his judgment-seat, to account for all thy forgetfulness of him, and neglect of his service, thy misemployment of thy time and talents, and of all the gifts of his providence and grace, and for all thy carnal mirth, sensual pleasures, and the extravagances and exorbitances of thy youthful days, as well as of thy riper years.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Eyes. He speaks ironically, (Calmet) or exhorts to spiritual joy and moderation. (St. Gregory, Mor. xxiv.)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

"Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things."

"Rejoice, young man"-On the surface it seems strange that God "commands" young people to be happy, for doesn"t such come naturally? Actually, no. How many young people are bitter, depressed, discouraged, resentful, bored, unhappy, confused, etc..? Instead of a period of great happiness, the temptation exists to allow our youth to be a period of great frustration, turmoil and rage.

Points To Note:

2 Youth has the pathway of life before them. Their hopes, dreams, and ambitions will be shaped by attitudes formed while still young. The time to learn how to enjoy life is when you are young. 2. Carefully note that God speaks to young people, "Solomon does not fear to enforce religious considerations upon the young mind" (Kidwell p. 270). Young people need to realize that they are accountable to God, and there are specific commands directed to them (Eph. ). 3. Parents and young people also need to realize that important attitudes, perspectives and convictions are formed during the days of youth. Unfortunately, even many Christian parents tend to excuse the bad attitudes on the part of their older children, often opting for the excuse, "Well, it is hard to be a teenager these days". God doesn"t have such an attitude. Rather, God is saying, "The time to get your head on straight is while you are young".

"let your heart be pleasant"-"let your mind be glad in the days of your vigor" (AAT); "Delight in your boyhood, young man, make the most of the days of your youth" (NEB); "Young man it"s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it!" (Tay)

"And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes"-Nothing here is encouraging a young man to engage in sinful or irresponsible activities. In fact, such activities deprive life of real and true joy (Titus ).

Points To Note:

3 The verse stresses the need in learning how to rejoice in wholesome activities that will stand God"s scrutiny on the judgment day. 2. "Meanwhile verse 9 reminds us of another aspect of joy: its relation to what is right…..The ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes-or, in two words, perfect freedom---must have a goal worth reaching, a "Well done! to strive for, to find fulfillment. Otherwise triviality takes over, or worse still, vice. Whichever of these connotations the word "playboy" has for us, we know that for lack of relating his life to anything demanding, still less to heaven"s assessment, that man is a pitiable figure. So this verse, by insisting that our ways matter to God and are therefore meaningful through and through, robs joy of nothing but its hollowness….To idolize the state of youth and to dread the loss of it is disastrous: it spoils the gift even while we have it" (Kidner p. 99).

"Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things"-"The exhortation to follow one"s inclinations (v. 9) does not endorse the reckless following of every impulse. Awareness of divine judgment turns the pursuit of joy away from crossing over into sins" (Garrett p. 340). Please note that judgment day was never meant to take all the joy out of living, but rather, to simply remind us not to waste our life in superficial or sinful activities. In light of the judgment day, the believer can have a very happy and rewarding life in this life.

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Rejoice, &c. A positive command, not irony; qualified by the solemn fact: "but know thou", &c.

young man = a chosen youth, implying beauty and strength.

youth = childhood.

thy youth. Same word as "young man".

judgment = the judgment.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". "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

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Rejoice - not advice, but warning. So 1 Kings 22:15 is irony; if thou dost rejoice (carnally, Ecclesiastes 2:2; not moderately, as Ecclesiastes 5:18), etc., then "know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment" - (Ecclesiastes 3:17; Ecclesiastes 12:14.)

In thy youth-in the days of thy youth - Hengstenberg thinks, distinct Hebrew words [ yalduwt (Hebrew #3208)], adolescence or boyhood, and full-grown youth [ b

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". "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

(9) The beginning of the last chapter would more conveniently have been placed here than where the division is actually made. It is hard to interpret the judgment spoken of in this verse of anything but future judgment, when we bear in mind how much of the book is taken up with the complaint that retribution does not take place in this life.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/ecclesiastes-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.
Rejoice
1 Kings 18:27; 22:15; Luke 15:12,13
in thy youth
12:1; 1 Kings 18:12; Lamentations 3:27
walk
Numbers 15:30; 22:32; Deuteronomy 29:19; Job 31:7; Psalms 81:12; Jeremiah 7:24; 23:17; Jeremiah 44:16,17; Acts 14:16; Ephesians 2:2,3; 1 Peter 4:3,4
in the sight
2:10; Genesis 3:6; 6:2; Joshua 7:21; 2 Samuel 11:2-4; Matthew 5:28; 1 John 2:15,16
know
3:17; 12:14; Psalms 50:4-6; Acts 17:30,31; 24:25; Romans 2:5-11; 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Peter 3:7; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:12-15
Reciprocal: Genesis 11:6 - Behold;  Numbers 15:39 - ye seek not;  Judges 11:27 - the Judge;  Judges 17:6 - right;  Judges 21:25 - right;  1 Samuel 2:10 - judge;  2 Chronicles 25:8 - be strong;  Job 15:12 - thine heart;  Job 19:29 - that ye may;  Job 20:12 - wickedness;  Psalm 34:11 - Come;  Psalm 119:9 - shall;  Proverbs 1:4 - to the;  Proverbs 10:23 - GeneralProverbs 14:13 - GeneralProverbs 20:17 - is sweet;  Ecclesiastes 2:24 - nothing;  Ecclesiastes 3:22 - nothing;  Ecclesiastes 5:11 - what;  Ecclesiastes 5:18 - it is good and comely;  Ecclesiastes 8:6 - therefore;  Jeremiah 13:10 - walk;  Lamentations 4:21 - be glad;  Ezekiel 11:21 - whose;  Amos 4:4 - Come;  Amos 6:13 - which;  Matthew 26:45 - Sleep on;  Mark 14:41 - Sleep;  Luke 12:19 - take;  Luke 16:2 - give;  John 5:22 - GeneralRomans 2:16 - God;  Romans 14:12 - General1 Corinthians 7:31 - use;  1 Corinthians 15:32 - let;  2 Timothy 2:22 - youthful;  Titus 2:6 - Young;  James 5:5 - have lived

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/ecclesiastes-11.html.

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

Ecclesiastes 11:9. The writer directs his discourse to the youth because he has still to choose his path in life, and good advice is consequently most appropriate in his case. Let thy heart cheer thee: the heart is mentioned because it is the fountain from which cheerfulness is, as it were, diffused over the whole man: compare Proverbs 14:30, "a sound heart is the life of the body:" and Proverbs 15:13, "a merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance." Many of the older commentators look upon this summons to cheerfulness as ironical; so that it would be substantially a dissuasion therefrom. There is, however, no satisfactory reason for taking such a view, especially when we bear in mind that the disease of the age was not excess, but dull melancholy. It is furthermore inconsistent with a whole number of parallel passages, in which men are exhorted to the cheerful enjoyment of God's gifts. And lastly, in Ecclesiastes 11:10, to a very forced explanation of which that view would lead, by כעס, we should then be compelled to understand "passionateness," to which youth is specially inclined, and by רעה "badness" in general. The words, "walk in the ways of thine heart and in the sight of thine eyes" would be at variance with the passage, Numbers 15:39, to which allusion is probably here made—"ye shall remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and ye shall not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring"—were they not defined and limited by the succeeding warning—"but know, etc." There is undoubtedly a difference between the two passages. In the one only unallowed merriness is forbidden: in the other permitted merriness is recommended,—to a generation, namely, which had lost its joy in life, which was consumed by a murmuring disposition, and which tried to force God to redeem it by means of a gloomy and rigid asceticism. Cheerfulness, here, is not merely permitted: it is commanded, and represented as an essential element of piety. Emphasis must be laid equally on the word "walk" and on the word "know." Even in Leviticus 13:12 and Deuteronomy 28:34, מראה עינים signifies that which we see with our eyes. The Masorites wished to change the plural, which refers to the multiplicity of the objects of sight, into the singular, because they falsely supposed מראה to denote the "act of sight." To walk in that which we see with our eyes is to be mentally occupied with it, to have pleasure in it, in contradiction to either a strict and gloomy asceticism or a discontented dullness and insensibility. Into the judgment, which will be carried on according to the standard of God's revealed law. Whatever is in opposition to this must inevitably be expiated by punishment,—by punishment, too which is executed not only in the future world, but affects the whole of our present life. For God is angry every day (Psalms 7:12).

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 11:9". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/ecclesiastes-11.html.