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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
Bible Study Resources
Nave's Topical Bible - Gifts from God; Rich, the; Riches; The Topic Concordance - Enjoyment; Giving and Gifts; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Gifts of God, the;
Verse Ecclesiastes 5:20. For he shall not much remember — The person who acts in this way, extracts all the good requisite from life. He passes through things temporal so as not to lose those that are eternal: -
"Calm and serene, the road of life to him,
Or long or short, rugged or smooth, with thorns
O'erspread, or gay with flowers, is but a road.
Such fare as offers grateful he accepts,
And smiling to his native home proceeds."
These files are public domain.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:20". "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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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:20". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/ecclesiastes-5.html. 2005.
The days will pass smoothly and pleasantly, while he lives in the consciousness of God’s favor.
Answereth him - i. e., grants his prayers.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:20". "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 5:20". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/ecclesiastes-5.html. 2014.
For he shall not much remember the days of his life,.... Be they more or fewer, as Jarchi: he will not think life long and tedious; nor dwell upon, and distress himself with, the troubles he has met with, or is likely to meet with; but, being content with the good things God has given him, and freely and cheerfully enjoying them, he passes away his time delightfully and pleasantly. Some, as Aben Ezra observes, and which he approves of, and is agreeably to the accents, render the words, "if he [has] not much, he remembers the days of his life" t; if he has but little of the good things of this life, he remembers how few his days are he has to live; and doubts not he shall have enough to carry him to the end of his days, and therefore is quite easy and content; he calls to mind how he has been supplied all his days hitherto, and is persuaded that that God, who has provided for him, will continue his goodness to him, and that he shall not want any good thing; and therefore does not distress himself with what is to come;
because God answereth [him] in the joy of his heart; he calls upon God for a blessing on his labours, asks of him his daily food, and desires what may be proper and sufficient for him, or what he judges is necessary and convenient; and God answers his prayers and petitions, and good wishes, by filling his heart with food and gladness; and giving him that cheerfulness of spirit, and thankfulness of heart, in the enjoyment of every blessing; and especially if along with it he lifts up the light of his countenance, and grants him joy in the Holy Ghost; he will go on so pleasantly and comfortably as to forget all his former troubles; and it will dissipate his doubts and fears about how he shall live for the future.
t כי לא הרבה יזכר "quod si non multum recordabitur dierum vitae suae", Junius & Tremellius.
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 5:20". "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.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5:20". "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