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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
Bible Study Resources
Nave's Topical Bible - Riches; Thompson Chain Reference - Enjoyment; Epicureans; Joy; Joy-Sorrow; Pleasure, Worldly; Self-Indulgence-Self-Denial; Worldly; The Topic Concordance - Enjoyment; Giving and Gifts;
Verse 18. Behold that which I have seen — This is the result of my observations and experience. God gives every man, in the course of his providence, the necessaries of life; and it is his will that he should thankfully use them.
For it is his portion. — What is requisite for him in the lower world; without them his life cannot subsist, and earthly blessings are as truly the portion of his body and animal life, as the salvation of God is the portion of his soul.
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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ecclesiastes-5.html. 1832.
Advice about money (5:8-6:12)
Greed for money is a common social evil and the cause of much suffering. Because of such greed, government officials exploit poor farmers. Each official makes sure he takes as much money as he can, so that after he has passed some of it on to those above him who protect him, he has enough left for himself. As for the farmers, besides losing their profits to corrupt officials, they must also give some of their harvest as a tax to the king (8-9).
Prosperity does not satisfy, because the more people have, the more they want. The rich may lie awake at night worrying about their money, while labourers sleep soundly (10-12). Another frustration for the rich is that they may lose all their money in an unsuccessful business deal. In the end they have nothing to pass on to their children in spite of a lifetime of hard work (13-17). Life is short, and people should use the possessions and the work God has given them to bring themselves enjoyment, not trouble. This is God’s will (18-20).
Two further examples illustrate the deceitfulness of riches. People may have wealth but not be able to enjoy it. Then, when they die, the benefits of their wealth are enjoyed by others, who may not even be relatives (6:1-3). Others may have everything that enables them to enjoy their wealth but they refuse to. They might live to a great age, but die in misery and are forgotten. A baby born dead, never having seen the world’s light, is better off than such people (4-6).
No matter how much people have, they are never satisfied. Why, then, do they waste time and effort trying to improve themselves? They would do better to find enjoyment in what they have than always to want something else (7-9). After all, they cannot change what God has determined. Neither can they argue with God. They do not know what is best for them in this short life, nor do they know what will happen after they die (10-12).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:18". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/ecclesiastes-5.html. 2005.
THE RIGHT ATTITUDE TOWARD HEALTH AND WEALTH
"Behold, That which I have seen to be good and to be comely is for one to eat and to drink and to enjoy good in all his labor, wherein he laboreth under the sun, all the days of his life which God hath given him: for this is his portion. Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor - this is the gift of God. For he shall not much remember the days of his life: because God answereth him in the joy of his heart."
There is a melancholy leveling of all life, embracing all classes from the laboring man to the king on his throne, in these verses. God is the giver of all things, both to the working man and the ruler; and, from the purely earthly viewpoint, about all that anyone gets out of life is what is mentioned here.
"And hath given him power to eat thereof" (Ecclesiastes 5:19). Christ taught men to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." The rich man indeed may have bread stored up for a long time; but whether he has the health and opportunity to eat it, or to profit by it if he does eat it, is altogether a gift of God, granted one day at a time!
We especially appreciate the Anchor Bible's rendition of this, even if there should be an element of paraphrase (rather than translation) in it."
"So I reached the conclusion that what is satisfying and suitable is to eat and drink and enjoy oneself in all one's struggle under the sun, during the few years which God grants a man; that is what one gets out of it. Furthermore, every man to whom God grants riches and possessions, and enables him to benefit from them, and to possess his share and to be happy in his work - he has a bonus from God. Such a man will not brood over the shortness of his life, when God keeps his mind occupied with happy thoughts."
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:18". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/ecclesiastes-5.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
Rather, Behold what I have seen to be good, it is pleasant for a man to eat. Such thankful enjoyment is inculcated by the Law Deuteronomy 12:7, Deuteronomy 12:18.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/ecclesiastes-5.html. 1870.
Keep your foot when you go to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they do not consider the evil that they do ( Ecclesiastes 5:1 ).
When you go into the house of God, listen. Be more ready to hear.
Don't be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and you are upon the earth: therefore let your words be few ( Ecclesiastes 5:2 ).
And now he's talking about going in the house of God and making all kinds of promises and vows to God. "Oh, God, I'm going to serve You. Oh, God, I'm going to put you first in my life. Oh, God," and making all these promises. He said, "Keep your mouth shut. Don't do a lot of talking. Listen. For God is there. He's in heaven. He hears what you're saying. So don't be hasty to utter anything."
For a dream comes through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by the multitude of his words. Now when you vow a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools: pay what you have vowed. It is better that you should not vow, than that you should vow and not pay. Don't allow your mouth to cause your flesh to sin ( Ecclesiastes 5:3-6 );
All of the broken promises that we have made to God because we didn't have enough sense to just listen and keep our mouth shut when we came into the house of God. And so we make these rash promises. These vows before the Lord. And then we break them. Better not to vow. You see, the vow always makes me feel better. Because I get sort of satisfied, I promised God I'm going to give Him everything, you know. All I have belongs to God. God, you can have it all. And I feel relieved of my guilt of amassing things, because after all, it all belongs to God. I gave it to Him. Now He never has a chance to use it. But when I die, who is it going to go to? "Suffer not your mouth to cause your flesh to sin."
neither say you before the angel, that it was an error ( Ecclesiastes 5:6 ):
Oh, I didn't really mean that.
wherefore why should God become angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of your hands? For in the multitude of dreams and in many words there is also divers vanities: but reverence God ( Ecclesiastes 5:6-7 ).
For if you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perverting of judgment and the justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regards; and there be higher than they ( Ecclesiastes 5:8 ).
God is higher than man. If you see these things, just know that there is one who is higher.
Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: and the king himself is served by the field. Now he that loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loves abundance with increase: this also is vanity ( Ecclesiastes 5:9-10 ).
Jesus said a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things that he possesses. If you love silver, you'll never be satisfied. If you love abundance, you'll never be satisfied by the abundance.
When goods increase, they are increased that eat them ( Ecclesiastes 5:11 ):
So Solomon had more goods, but he had more people eating them.
and what good is it to the owners thereof, except that you get to watch them eat? ( Ecclesiastes 5:11 )
I mean, I've got all of these goods, but it takes so many servants to keep all of these cattle. Takes so many shepherds to watch over all these. I got to feed them all. So I've got all these, but what good is it? You get to watch everybody eat it up, you know. All my wives and all my kids sitting there eating, and all the servants, all eating, so. So you have a lot, so what? You know. What good is it to you? You can only eat so much. You can only sleep in one bed. I mean, you know, you can only take care of your own needs, and after that, whatever you have, you just watch others eat it up.
The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much: but the abundance of the rich won't allow him to sleep ( Ecclesiastes 5:12 ).
The guy is out there laboring hard, he really sleeps sound. But yet this guy has so many riches he's lying there in the pillow, "Now tomorrow I better take the stock out of that one, looks like it's going down. Better invest in this, oh, I wonder, would that be wise?" And all night long he's mulling over what he's going to be doing tomorrow to get more riches. And the abundance of his possessions won't allow him to sleep. He lies there pounding the pillow all night. Figuring out. So how sweet is the sleep of the laboring man.
There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt. But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, there is nothing in his hand. And as he came forth out of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, he shall take nothing of his labor, which he may carry away in his hand ( Ecclesiastes 5:13-15 ).
Man, when you die, you're not going to take anything with you. You're going to leave it all.
And this also is a sore evil, in all the points as he came, so he's going to go: so what profit has he of all that which he labored for to the wind? For all of the days he eats in darkness, and he has much sorrow and wrath in his sickness. Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all of his labor that he has taken under the sun all of the days of his life, which God gives him: for it is his portion ( Ecclesiastes 5:16-18 ).
In other words, enjoy it now, because, man, that's your portion. That's it. Now, how different this is than what Jesus said concerning our riches. He said, "Lay not up for yourself treasures on earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt and decay, thieves break through and steal. Lay up for yourself treasures in heaven" ( Matthew 6:19-20 ). There is a way by which you can transfer your treasures into eternal treasures. And Jesus encourages us towards that. You can exchange your currency for that which is current in heaven.
Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answers him in the joy of his heart ( Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 ). "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:18". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/ecclesiastes-5.html. 2014.
Behold that which I have seen,.... Observed, considered and approved of, and which he recommended and excited attention to, and is as follows;
[it is] good and comely [for one] to eat and to drink; to make use of the creatures God has given for service in a free and liberal manner, without excess, and with moderation; and not deprive a man's self of those things he may lawfully partake of, and are necessary for him: to do this is good for himself, and for the health of his body; and is right in the sight of God, and is comely before men; it is not only lawful, but laudable. There is another version and sense of the words, "it is good to eat and drink him that is fair" q, or comely; Christ, who is fairer than the children of men; to live by faith on him, to eat his flesh, and drink his blood; but this, however true, spiritual, and evangelical, it seems foreign to the text. It follows,
and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him; this last clause, "which God giveth him", is not to be connected with "the good of all his labour"; though it is true, that whatever good is got by labour is the gift of God; but with "all the days of his life"; for the life of man, and all the days of it, be they more or fewer, are the gift of God, and according to his determinate will and pleasure; and throughout this time a man should enjoy, in a comfortable way, with thankfulness to God, the good things he has gotten by his labour and industry, through the blessing of God along with them. This Solomon frequently inculcates; Aben Ezra says, this is the third time, but it seems to be the fourth; see Ecclesiastes 2:24;
for it [is] his portion; that is, in this life; for otherwise, if a good man, he has a better portion in another: this is the part which God has allotted to him here; and it is his duty, and for his good and comfort, to make use of it.
q "Bonum est, cum qui pulcher est, edere et bibere, h. e. Christo per fidem frui; nova et singularis expositio", Rambachius.
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
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:18". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ecclesiastes-5.html. 1999.
|Grateful Enjoyment.|| |
18 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion. 19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God. 20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.
Solomon, from the vanity of riches hoarded up, here infers that the best course we can take is to use well what we have, to serve God with it, to do good with it, and take the comfort of it to ourselves and our families; this he had pressed before, Ecclesiastes 2:24; Ecclesiastes 3:22. Observe, 1. What it is that is here recommended to us, not to indulge the appetites of the flesh, or to take up with present pleasures or profits for our portion, but soberly and moderately to make use of what Providence has allotted for our comfortable passage through this world. We must not starve ourselves through covetousness, because we cannot afford ourselves food convenient, nor through eagerness in our worldly pursuits, nor through excessive care and grief, but eat and drink what is fit for us to keep our bodies in good plight for the serving of our souls in God's service. We must not kill ourselves with labour, and then leave others to enjoy the good of it, but take the comfort of that which our hands have laboured for, and that not now and then, but all the days of our life which God gives us. Life is God's gift, and he has appointed us the number of the days of our life (Job 14:5); let us therefore spend those days in serving the Lord our God with joyfulness and gladness of heart. We must not do the business of our calling as a drudgery, and make ourselves slaves to it, but we must rejoice in our labour, not grasp at more business than we can go through without perplexity and disquiet, but take a pleasure in the calling wherein God has put us, and go on in the business of it with cheerfulness. This it to rejoice in our labour, whatever it is, as Zebulun in his going out and Issachar in his tents. 2. What is urged to recommend it to us. (1.) That it is good and comely to do this. It is well, and it looks well. Those that cheerfully use what God has given them thereby honour the giver, answer the intention of the gift, act rationally and generously, do good in the world, and make what they have turn to the best account, and this is both their credit and their comfort; it is good and comely; there is duty and decency in it. (2.) That it is all the good we can have out of the things of this world: It is our portion, and in doing thus we take our portion, and make the best of bad. This is our part of our worldly possession. God must have his part, the poor theirs, and our families theirs, but this is ours; it is all that falls to our lot out of them. (3.) That a heart to do thus is such a gift of God's grace as crowns all the gifts of his providence. If God has given a man riches and wealth, he completes the favour, and makes that a blessing indeed, if withal he gives him power to eat thereof, wisdom and grace to take the good of it and to do good with it. If this is God's gift, we must covet it earnestly as the best gift relating to our enjoyments in this world. (4.) That this is the way to make our own lives easy and to relieve ourselves against the many toils and troubles which our lives on earth are incident to (Ecclesiastes 5:20; Ecclesiastes 5:20): He shall not much remember the days of his life, the days of his sorrow and sore travail, his working days, his weeping days. He shall either forget them or remember them as waters that pass away; he shall not much lay to heart his crosses, nor long retain the bitter relish of them, because God answers him in the joy of his heart, balances all the grievances of his labour with the joy of it and recompenses him for it by giving him to eat the labour of his hands. If he does not answer all his desires and expectations, in the letter of them, yet he answers them with that which is more than equivalent, in the joy of his heart. A cheerful spirit is a great blessing; it makes the yoke of our employments easy and the burden of our afflictions light.
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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:18". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/ecclesiastes-5.html. 1706.
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13