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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ecclesiastes 8:15

So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Contentment;   Sensuality;   Worldliness;   Thompson Chain Reference - Epicureans;   Pleasure, Worldly;   Self-Indulgence-Self-Denial;   Worldly;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Time;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, the Book of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ecclesiastes;   King James Dictionary - Abide;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, Book of;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Joy;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for August 27;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse 15. Then I commended mirth — These are some more of the cavils of the infidel objector: "Since virtue is frequently under oppression, and vice triumphs in health, and rolls in wealth, I see plainly that we should not trouble ourselves about future things; and therefore should be governed by the maxim EDE, BIBE, LUDE. Post mortem nulla voluptas."

Eat, drink, and play,

While here you may;

For soon as death

Has stopp'd your breath,

Ye ne'er shall see a cheerful day.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ecclesiastes-8.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


Compromise, despair and joy (8:1-17)

Wisdom helps people see the underlying meaning of things and teaches them that to act with pleasantness is better than to act with harshness (8:1). If, for example, people work in the king’s palace, they will do what the king says, partly because they have sworn before God to be obedient and partly because they will be punished if they disobey. But if they find the king’s command unreasonable, wisdom will show them a way out. They will wait for a suitable opportunity to act, then act in such a way that, though they do not disobey the king, neither do they sin against their conscience (2-5).
Despite the compromise he recommends, the writer knows that people remain uneasy about the outcome and about the future in general. They know they have no control over life or death. Just as there is no escape from a battle, so there is no guaranteed success to wrongdoers (6-8).
Often there appears to be no principle of justice at work in the world. The wicked go unpunished and, even when they are dead and buried, people still praise them for their achievements in life (9-10). It seems that this lack of punishment encourages people to sin (11-12a). The writer knows what the traditional teachers say: that those who fear God will be rewarded and those who are wicked will be punished (12b-13). But he also knows that often the opposite is true (14). People should not despair over these problems, but rather enjoy whatever God has given them in life (15). They should not spend weary days and sleepless nights puzzling over problems to which only God knows the answer (16-17).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8:15". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/ecclesiastes-8.html. 2005.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Mirth - Better, Gladness, or “joy” (as in Ecclesiastes 2:10). The Hebrew word is applied not only to the pleasures arising from the physical senses, but also frequently to religious joy. The sentiment of this verse is a frequent conclusion of the writer’s personal experience (compare marginal references), and is unfairly charged with Epicureanism. The Preacher is careful to set forth pleasure as a gift from God, to be earned by labor, and received with thankfulness to the Giver, and to be accounted for to Him. His estimate of the pleasures of the senses is recorded in Ecclesiastes 7:2-6.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/ecclesiastes-8.html. 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter 8

Who is as the wise man? and who knows the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom makes his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed. I counsel thee to keep the king's commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God. Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him. Where the word of the king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What are you doing? ( Ecclesiastes 8:1-4 )

The king stands as the authority. You can't really come to the king and say, "Hey, what are you doing?" And the same is true of God. Paul said, "Who are you to say unto Him that has created you, 'Why hast Thou made me thus?'" ( Romans 9:20 ) The sovereignty of the king, which also speaks to the sovereignty of God.

Whoso keeps the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man's heart discerns both time and judgment. Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be? ( Ecclesiastes 8:5-7 )

So you don't really know what's going to be, when it's going to be. The future is so uncertain.

There is no man that has power over his spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it ( Ecclesiastes 8:8 ).

No man has any power over the spirit. When the time comes for you to die, you don't have any power over your spirit to retain it, to cause your spirit to remain. No power in death. The only one who really did exercise that kind of power over his spirit was Jesus Christ. When on the cross, it said, "He bowed his head and dismissed His Spirit" ( John 19:30 ). He had earlier said unto them, "No man takes My life from Me, I give My life" ( John 10:18 ). In order to keep with what He said, "No man takes My life," when He was hanging there on the cross after He cried, "It is finished" ( John 19:30 ), "Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit" ( Luke 23:46 ), He bowed His head, and it said, "And He dismissed His Spirit." He said, "Okay, you can go now." And He died. He had power over His Spirit to dismiss it. We don't have that power.

All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man rules over another to his own hurt. And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity ( Ecclesiastes 8:9-10 ).

I see life moving on. People are soon forgotten after they die. Life is empty.

Now because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil ( Ecclesiastes 8:11 ).

One of the common mistakes that people make is that of misinterpreting the nature of God. One aspect of God's nature is His tremendous patience with rebelling man. God is exceedingly long-suffering. God puts up with so much. He doesn't strike immediately, but oftentimes forestalls judgment for months, for years. And thus, it appears that the evil man is getting away with his evil actions, his evil deeds. And people begin to misinterpret the long-suffering of God. Because He doesn't execute His sentence speedily, because He doesn't immediately come down to the fist of judgment upon a man, a man many times thinks he's getting away with his evil. Thinks he has put one over on God. Thinks that he has been clever and has hid his sin from God, or worse yet, thinks that God is condoning what he has done. Because I'm still blessed and I'm prosperous. "I'm a prosperous cheat, so God is condoning my cheating. It doesn't matter to God that I cheat. It doesn't matter to God that I lie or I steal or whatever because look, I'm blessed. It doesn't matter to God that I'm living an immoral life, because look at all that I have." And people begin to misinterpret God's grace and God's long suffering as God's approbation for their actions and for their lives. Not so. That's a fatal mistake to make. God does know. God does see. God does care. God will judge. But because God doesn't judge immediately, because the sentence of God isn't executed speedily, because God is giving you opportunity to turn, God is giving you opportunity to repent, God is giving you the opportunity to come out of your sin and to be saved and He's very patient with you. God's not willing that any should perish but that all should come into repentance. You see, the real delay in the return of Jesus Christ is just God's unwillingness that men should perish.

As Peter is talking about the second coming of the Lord, he said, "Hey, in the last days there are going to be scoffers that are going to come saying, 'Where is the promise of Jesus coming again? They've been talking about that for years. He hasn't come and He's not going to come. Things just continue as they were from the beginning.'" But Peter said, "God isn't slack concerning His promises, as some men count slackness, but He's faithful to usward. But He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" ( 2 Peter 3:9 ). Therefore, consider ye actually this time as God's patience in order that men might be saved.

So, because God has waited so long, because God hasn't speedily executed His sentence against the evil, people begin to assume that God has just withdrawn Himself. That Jesus isn't coming again. That all of the talk of the rapture of the church and the return of Jesus Christ is just piped dreams, a misinterpretation of scriptures. And they begin to make fun of the return of Jesus Christ. They begin to scoff at it, even as Peter said they would. It's because they are misinterpreting the patience of God waiting for men to be saved, because God is not willing that any should perish. So God is very kind. He's very loving. He's very patient. He's very long-suffering. He's giving you chance after chance after chance. But it is tragic when people misinterpret God's patience and God's kindness. And thus, they give their hearts over to evil because they think that God is too remote to care. "It doesn't really matter to God how I live. God doesn't really know." And they give their hearts and their lives over to evil to live an evil life. That is a tragic, fatal mistake of misinterpreting God's grace and God's goodness to you.

Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged ( Ecclesiastes 8:12 ),

Remember he was talking about how he saw that the ungodly man was living a long life, the righteous were dying young and the ungodly were living long. So, "Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and his days be prolonged,"

yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him ( Ecclesiastes 8:12 ):

Now, in the end the best life is the life of fearing God, walking with God. Fear of the Lord is to depart from evil. So I know that in the long run that life is the best. It's going to be well with the man who has departed from evil.

But it shall not be well with the wicked ( Ecclesiastes 8:13 ),

In the end God's judgment will come. You can't escape it. God's judgment will come, and thus, I surely know it will be well with those that fear God. "But it shall not be well with the wicked."

neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he fears not before God. There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous: so I said that this also is vanity ( Ecclesiastes 8:13-14 ).

Things happen to both good and evil men. Same kind of experiences to both. A righteous man gets cancer; an unrighteous man gets cancer. A righteous man has prospered; an unrighteous man has prospered. Who makes this observation? What happens to one happens to the other. It's emptiness.

Then I commended merriment, because a man hath no better thing ( Ecclesiastes 8:15 )

And this is his human philosophy and human reasoning coming out again. Hey, it's great to be merry because a man has no better thing under the sun. And it's probably true. Under the sun, man, life is just very shallow and you live life in a very shallow level, and

under the sun the best thing to do is just to eat and drink and be merry ( Ecclesiastes 8:15 ):

Because man, that's all she wrote. That's the sum of life for you, so you might as well live it up because you're going to be burning after a while. So you know, live it up now. Life under the sun.

for that shall abide with him of his labor the days of his life, which God gives him under the sun ( Ecclesiastes 8:15 ).

Might as well enjoy what you got now, because man, it's going to be tough later.

When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:) Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it ( Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 ).

A man cannot find out the work of God though you search it out. "





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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8:15". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/ecclesiastes-8.html. 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The limitations of Wisdom 8:10-17

Wisdom can enable a person to avoid the king’s wrath (Ecclesiastes 8:2-9), but it cannot enable him or her to understand fully why God deals with people as He does (Ecclesiastes 8:10-17).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8:15". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/ecclesiastes-8.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

In view of these contradictions, Solomon again recommended the enjoyment of life, not in a pleasure-mad way but in the sense of enjoying the fruits of one’s labor (cf. Ecclesiastes 2:24; Ecclesiastes 3:12-13; Ecclesiastes 5:18-19). This joy will make labor more enjoyable. We should receive each day’s joys as God’s good gifts and rejoice in them.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8:15". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/ecclesiastes-8.html. 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Then I commended mirth,.... Innocent mirth, a cheerfulness of spirit in whatsoever state condition men are; serenity and tranquillity of mind, thankfulness for what they have, and a free and comfortable use of it; this the wise man praised and recommended to good men, as being much better than to fret at the prosperity of the wicked, and the seemingly unequal distribution of things in this world, and because they had not so much of them: as others; who yet had reason to be thankful for what they had, and to lift up their heads and be cheerful, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God in another world. The Targum interprets it of the joy of the law;

because a man hath no better thing under the sun than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry; of earthly things there is nothing better than for a man freely and cheerfully, with moderation and thankfulness, to enjoy what God has given him; this is what had been observed before, Ecclesiastes 2:24; and is not the language of an epicure, or a carnal man, who observing that no difference is made between the righteous and the wicked, that it is as well or better with the wicked than the righteous, determines to give up himself to sensual lusts and pleasures; but it is the good and wholesome advice of the wise man, for men to be easy under every providence, satisfied with their present condition and circumstances, and be cheerful and pleasant, and not distress themselves about things they cannot alter;

for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life,

which God giveth him under the sun; man's present life is under the sun, and is continued as long as it pleases God; though it is but short, rather to be counted by days than years, and is a laborious one; and all that he gets by his labour, enjoyed by him, is to eat and drink cheerfully; and this he may expect to have and continue with him as long as he lives, even food and raiment, and with this he should be content.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ecclesiastes-8.html. 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Mysteries of Providence.

      14 There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.   15 Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.   16 When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:)   17 Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.

      Wise and good men have, of old, been perplexed with this difficulty, how the prosperity of the wicked and the troubles of the righteous can be reconciled with the holiness and goodness of the God that governs the world. Concerning this Solomon here gives us his advice.

      I. He would not have us to be surprised at it, as though some strange thing happened, for he himself saw it in his days, Ecclesiastes 8:14; Ecclesiastes 8:14. 1. He saw just men to whom it happened according to the work of the wicked, who, notwithstanding their righteousness, suffered very hard things, and continued long to do so, as if they were to be punished for some great wickedness. 2. He saw wicked men to whom it happened according to the work of the righteous, who prospered as remarkably as if they had been rewarded for some good deed, and that from themselves, from God, from men. We see the just troubled and perplexed in their own minds, the wicked easy, fearless, and secure,--the just crossed and afflicted by the divine Providence, the wicked prosperous, successful, and smiled upon,--the just, censured, reproached, and run down, by the higher powers, the wicked applauded and preferred.

      II. He would have us to take occasion hence, not to charge God with iniquity, but to charge the world with vanity. No fault is to be found with God; but, as to the world, This is vanity upon the earth, and again, This is also vanity, that is, it is a certain evidence that the things of this world are not the best things nor were ever designed to make a portion and happiness for us, for, if they had, God would not have allotted so much of this world's wealth to his worst enemies and so much of its troubles to his best friends; there must therefore be another life after this the joys and griefs of which must be real and substantial, and able to make men truly happy or truly miserable, for this world does neither.

      III. He would have us not to fret and perplex ourselves about it, or make ourselves uneasy, but cheerfully to enjoy what God has given us in the world, to be content with it and make the best of it, though it be much better with others, and such as we think very unworthy (Ecclesiastes 8:15; Ecclesiastes 8:15): Then I commended joy, a holy security and serenity of mind, arising from a confidence in God, and his power, providence, and promise, because a man has no better thing under the sun (though a good man has much better things above the sun) than to eat and drink, that is, soberly and thankfully to make use of the things of this life according as his rank is, and to be cheerful, whatever happens, for that shall abide with him of his labour. That is all the fruit he has for himself of the pains that he takes in the business of the world; let him therefore take it, and much good may it do him; and let him not deny himself that, out of a peevish discontent because the world does not go as he would have it. That shall abide with him during the days of his life which God gives him under the sun. Our present life is a life under the sun, but we look for the life of the world to come, which will commence and continue when the sun shall be turned into darkness and shine no more. This present life must be reckoned by days; this life is given us, and the days of it are allotted to us, by the counsel of God, and therefore while it does last we must accommodate ourselves to the will of God and study to answer the ends of life.

      IV. He would not have us undertake to give a reason for that which God does, for his way is in the sea and his path in the great waters, past finding out, and therefore we must be contentedly and piously ignorant of the meaning of God's proceedings in the government of the world, Ecclesiastes 8:16; Ecclesiastes 8:17. Here he shows, 1. That both he himself and many others had very closely studied the point, and searched far into the reasons of the prosperity of the wicked and the afflictions of the righteous. He, for his part, had applied his heart to know this wisdom, and to see the business that is done, by the divine Providence, upon the earth, to find out if there were any certain scheme, any constant rule or method, by which the affairs of this lower world were administered, any course of government as sure and steady as the course of nature, so that by what is done now we might as certainly foretel what will be done next as by the moon's changing now we can foretel when it will be at the full; this he would fain have found out. Others had likewise set themselves to make this enquiry with so close an application that they could not find time for sleep, either day or night, nor find in their hearts to sleep, so full of anxiety were they about these things. Some think Solomon speaks of himself, that he was so eager in prosecuting this great enquiry that he could not sleep for thinking of it. 2. That it was all labour in vain, Ecclesiastes 8:17; Ecclesiastes 8:17. When we look upon all the works of God and his providence, and compare one part with another, we cannot find that there is any such certain method by which the work that is done under the sun is directed; we cannot discover any key by which to decipher the character, nor by consulting precedents can we know the practice of this court, nor what the judgment will be. [1.] Though a man be ever so industrious, thou he labour to seek it out. [2.] Though he be ever so ingenious, though he be a wise man in other things, and can fathom the counsels of kings themselves and trace them by their footsteps. Nay, [3.] Though he be very confident of success, though he think to know it, yet he shall not; he cannot find it out. God's ways are above ours, nor is he tied to his own former ways, but his judgments are a great deep.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8:15". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/ecclesiastes-8.html. 1706.