they also that come after shall not rejoice in him; that come after the present generation, and after both the reigning prince, and even after his successor; they will not rejoice long in him that shall be upon the throne after them, any more than the present subjects of the old king, or those that now pay their court to the heir apparent; they will be so far from rejoicing in him, that they will loath and despise him, and wish him dead or dethroned, and another in his room.
Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit; to a king, to see himself thus used by his subjects; for a short time extolled and praised, and then despised and forsaken.
INTRODUCTION TO Ecclesiastes 5
This chapter contains some rules and directions concerning the worship of God; how persons should behave when they go into the house of God; concerning hearing the word, to which there should be a readiness, and which should be preferred to the sacrifices of fools, Ecclesiastes 5:1. Concerning prayer to God; which should not be uttered rashly and hastily, and should be expressed in few words; which is urged from the consideration of the majesty of God, and vileness of men; and the folly of much speaking is exposed by the simile of a dream, Ecclesiastes 5:2. Concerning vows, which should not be rashly made; when made, should be kept; nor should excuses be afterwards framed for not performing them, since this might bring the anger of God upon men, to the destruction of the works of their hands, Ecclesiastes 5:4; and, as an antidote against those vanities, which appear in the prayers and vows of some, and dreams of others, the fear of God is proposed, Ecclesiastes 5:7; and, against any surprise at the oppression of the poor, the majesty, power, and providence of God, and his special regard to his people, are observed, Ecclesiastes 5:8. And then the wise man enters into a discourse concerning riches; and observes, that the fruits of the earth, and the culture of it, are necessary to all men, and even to the king, Ecclesiastes 5:9; but dissuades from covetousness, or an over love of riches; because they are unsatisfying, are attended with much trouble, often injurious to the owners of them; at length perish, and their possessors; who, at death, are stripped quite naked of all, after they have spent their days in darkness and distress, Ecclesiastes 5:10; and concludes, therefore, that it is best for a man to enjoy, in a free manner, the good things of this life he is possessed of, and consider them as the gifts of God, and be thankful for them; by which means he will pass through the world more comfortably, and escape the troubles that attend others, Ecclesiastes 5:18.
and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools; there are sacrifices to be offered unto God in his house, which are acceptable to him; the sacrifices of beneficence and alms deeds to the poor, with which he is well pleased; and the presentation of the bodies of men, as a holy, living, and acceptable sacrifice unto him; and especially their hearts, and those as broken and contrite, which are the sacrifices of God; as also the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, which are acceptable to him through Jesus Christ: and under the former dispensation, while sacrifices were in use by divine appointment, when they were offered up in the faith of the sacrifice of Christ, they were well pleasing to God; but when they were not done in faith, and were without repentance for sin and reformation of life; when men retained their sins with them, and made these a cover for them, and thought by them to make atonement for their crimes, they were no other than the sacrifices of fools, and abominable unto God; see Isaiah 1:11; when these sacrifices were performed in the best manner, moral duties, as hearing and obeying the word of the Lord, and showing mercy to men, and offering up the spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, were preferred unto them, 1 Samuel 15:22; and much more to the sacrifices of fools. To be ready, or near (m), is to hear the word of the Lord, as Jarchi interprets it; though Aben Ezra understands it of God being near to hear his people, when they call upon him in truth. The word of the Lord was not only read publicly in the temple and synagogues, but was explained by the priests and prophets, the ecclesiastical rulers of the people; see Malachi 2:7; so the Targum,
"draw near thine ear to receive the doctrine of the law, from the priests and wise men:''
and so the people of God should draw near to hear the word; be swift to hear it, attentive to it, and receive it with all reverence, humility, love, and affection; and should not take up with mere outward forms, which is but the sacrifice of fools;
for they consider not that they do evil; or "know not" (n); they think they are doing well, and doing God good service, when they are doing ill; they know not truly the object of worship, nor the spiritual nature of it, nor the right end and true use of it: or, "they know not, only to do evil", so Aben Ezra supplies it: to do good they have no knowledge: or, "they know not to do the will", or "good pleasure" (o); that is, of God; this sense of the word Aben Ezra mentions.
(k) "Observant ubi festa mero pede sabbata reges", Satyr. 6. v. 158. (l) Lexic. Pentaglott. col. 1692. (m) "propinquus", Montanus; "propinquior", Mercerus, Schmidt. (n) "non ipsi scientes", Montanus; "nesciunt", Pagninus, Mercerus, Cocceius; "scire nolunt", Schmidt. (o) "facere veluntatem ejus", Pagninus, Mercerus.
"thy, heart shall not hasten to bring out speech at the time thou prayest before the Lord;''
anything and everything that comes up into the mind should not be, uttered before God; not anything rashly and hastily; men should consider before they speak to the King of kings; for though set precomposed forms of prayer are not to be used, yet the matter of prayer should be thought of beforehand; what our wants are, and what we should ask for; whether for ourselves or others; this rule I fear we often offend against: the reasons follow;
for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth; his throne is in the heavens, he dwells in the highest heavens, though they cannot contain him; this is expressive of his majesty, sovereignty, and supremacy, and of his omniscience and omnipotence; he is the high and lofty One, that dwells in the high and holy place; he is above all, and sees and knows all persons and things; and he sits in the heavens, and does whatever he pleases; and therefore all should stand in awe of him, and consider what they say unto him. Our Lord seems to have respect to this passage when he directed his disciples to pray, saying, "Our Father, which art in heaven", Matthew 6:9; and when we pray to him we should think what we ourselves are, that we are on the earth, the footstool of God; that we are of the earth, earthly; dwell in houses of clay, which have their foundation in the dust; crawling worms on earth, unworthy of his notice; are but dust and ashes, who take upon us to speak unto him;
therefore let, by words be few; of which prayer consists; such was the prayer of the publican, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner", Luke 18:13; and such the prayer which Christ has given as a pattern and directory to his people; who has forbid vain repetitions and much speaking in prayer, Matthew 6:7; not that all lengthy prayers are to be condemned, or all repetitions in them; our Lord was all night in prayer himself; and Nehemiah, Daniel, and others, have used repetitions in prayer, which may be done with fresh affection, zeal, and fervency; but such are forbidden as are done for the sake of being heard for much speaking, as the Heathens; and who thought they were not understood unless they said a thing a hundred times over (p); or when done to gain a character of being more holy and religious than others, as the Pharisees.
(p) "Ohe jam desine deos obtundere----Ut nihil credas intelligere, nisi idem dictum eat centies." Terent. Heautont. Acts 5. Sc. 1. v. 6, 8.
and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words; either his voice in conversation, for a fool is full of words, and pours out his foolishness in a large profusion of them; or his voice in prayer, being like a man's dream, confused, incoherent, and rambling. The supplement, "is known", may be left out.
(q) "ut prodit somnium", Junius & Tremellius; "nam ut venit", Piscator; "quia sicut venit", Mercerus, Ramabachius, so Broughton.
defer not to pay it; that is, to God, to whom it is made, who expects it, and that speedily, as Hannah paid hers; no excuses nor delays should be made;
for he hath no pleasure in fools; that is, the Lord hath no pleasure in them, he will not be mocked by them; he will resent such treatment of him, as to vow and not pay, or defer payment and daily, with him. So the Targum,
"for the Lord hath no pleasure in fools, because, they defer their vows, and do not pay;''
pay that which thou hast vowed; precisely and punctually; both as to the matter, manner, and time of it.
(r) "si quid vovisti", V. L.
than that thou shouldest vow and not pay; for this shows great weakness and folly, levity and inconstancy, and is resented by the Lord.
neither say thou before the angel that it was an error; that it was done ignorantly and through mistake: that it was not intended, and that this was not the meaning of the vow; and therefore desires to be excused performing it, or to offer a sacrifice in lieu of it. Interpreters are divided about the angel before whom such an excuse should not be made. Some think angel is put for angels in general, in whose presence, and before whom, as witnesses, vows are made; and who were signified by the cherubim in the sanctuary, where they were to be performed, and who are present in the worshipping assemblies of saints, where these things are done, 1 Timothy 5:21; others think the guardian angel is meant, which they suppose every man has; and others that Christ, the Angel of the covenant, is designed, who is in the midst of his people, sees and knows all that is done by them, and will not admit of their excuses; but it is most probable the priest is intended, called the angel, or messenger, of the Lord of hosts, Malachi 2:7; to whom such who had made vows applied to be loosed from them, acknowledging their error in making them; or to offer sacrifice for their sin of ignorance, Leviticus 5:4;
wherefore should God be angry at thy voice; either in making a rash and sinful vow, or in excusing that which was made;
and destroy the work of thine hands? wrought with success, for which the vow was made; and so, instead of its succeeding, is destroyed, and comes to nothing. Vows made by the Jews were chiefly about their houses, or fields, or cattle; see Leviticus 27:28; and so the destruction suggested may signify the curse that God would bring upon any of these, for excusing or not performing the vow made.
but fear thou God; give no heed to dreams, nor to the many words of men, which are vain and foolish; but keep close to the word of God, and worship him internally and externally, in spirit and in truth; for herein lies the sum and substance of religion; see Ecclesiastes 12:13; The Targum is,
"for in the multitude of the dreams of the false prophets believe not, nor in the vanities of the authors of enchantments, and the many speeches of ungodly men; but serve the wise and just, and of them seek doctrine, and fear before the Lord;''
see Jeremiah 23:28;
(s) So Luther, Broughton, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus.
marvel not at the matter; as though it was some strange and uncommon thing, when nothing is more common: or "marvel not at the will" or "pleasure" (t); that is, of God, who suffers such things to be. So the Targum, Jarchi, and Aben Ezra, interpret it; stumble not at it, nor arraign the wisdom and justice of God; let not that temptation prevail in thee as it has done in some good men, who have been tempted from hence to think there was nothing in religion, nor no providence attending the affairs of this world; do not be frightened and astonished, and hurried into such a thought; nor be distressed at the calamities and oppressions of poor and innocent men;
for he that is higher than the highest regardeth: that is, God, who is the most high in all the earth; higher, than the kings of the earth, and all high and haughty oppressors; higher indeed than the heavens, and the angels there: he "regards" all his people, his eyes are on them, and he never withdraws them from them; he regards their cries, and hears and answers them; he regards their oppressors, and their oppressions; and will, in his own time, deliver them; or he "keeps" (u) his people as the apple of his eye, in the hollow of his hand, night and day, lest any hurt them; he keeps them by his power through faith unto salvation. It may be rendered, "the high One from on high observes" (w); God, who is the high and lofty One, looks down from the high heavens where he dwells, and takes notice of all the sons of men, and considers all their works; see Psalm 33:13;
and there be higher than they; either the holy angels, who are higher than tyrannical oppressors, higher in nature, and excel in strength and power; and these are on the side of the oppressed, have the charge of saints, and encamp about them; and, whenever they have an order, can destroy their enemies in a moment: or rather the three divine Persons are meant, by the plural expression used, Father, Son, and Spirit; Jehovah the Father is above men, the greatest of men, in the things in which they deal proudly; be is greater than all, and none can pluck his sheep out of his hands, and worry them: Christ, the Son of the Highest, is higher than the kings, of the earth; he is King of kings, and Lord of lords, and able to deliver and save his people; and the Holy Spirit is the power of the Highest, and is greater than he or they that are in the world, the avowed enemies of the saints. Aben Ezra interprets it of the secret of the name of God, which he says is inexplicable. So the Midrash understands it of the holy blessed God; and in another tract it is said, on mention of this passage, there are three superiors above them in the way of emanation, and of them it is said (x), "there be higher than they."
(t) "super voluntate", Montanus, Cocceius; "de divina volantate", Pagninus, Mercerus; "divinam voluntatem", Tigurine version; "de ista voluntate", Junius & Tremellius, Gejerus. (u) "custodiens", Montanus; "custodit", Pagninus; "custos", Tigurine version. (w) "Observat", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Gejerus; "observans, observator est", Rambachius. (x) Tikkune Zohar Correct. 69. fol. 114. 1.
"the excellency of the praise of tilling the earth is above all things:''
and to the same purpose Jarchi and Aben Ezra; and the profit arising from it is enjoyed by all; it is for all, even the beasts of the field have grass from hence, as well as man has bread corn, and all other necessaries;
the king himself is served by the field; his table is served with bread corn, and flesh, and wine, and fruits of various sorts, the produce of the earth, which spring from it, or are nourished by it; were it not for husbandry the king himself and his family could not subsist; and therefore it becomes kings to encourage it, and not oppress those who are employed in it: or "the king is a servant to the field" (z); some kings have addicted themselves to husbandry, and been great lovers of it, as Uzziah was, 2 Chronicles 26:10; and some of the Chinese emperors, as their histories (a) show; and the kings of Persia (b): Vulcan, in the shield of Achilles, represented the reapers, gatherers, and binders of sheaves at work in the field, and a king standing among the sheaves with a sceptre in his hand, looking on with great pleasure, while a dinner is prepared by his orders for the workmen (c); many of the Roman generals, and high officers, were called from the plough, particularly Cincinnatus (d); and these encouraged husbandry in their subjects, as well as took care of their own farms. There is another sense of the words given, besides many more;
"and the most excellent Lord of the earth (that is, the most high God) is the King of every field that is tilled; (that is, the King of the whole habitable world;) or the King Messiah, Lord of his field, the church, and who is the most eminent in all the earth (e).''
The Midrash interprets it of the holy blessed God.
(y) "et praestantia terrae in omnibus ipsa", Montanus; "porro excellentia terrae prae omnibus est", Vatablus; "et praecellentia terrae in omnibus est", Gejerus. (z) "rex agro sit servus", Montanus, Piscator, Gejerus; "rex agro servit", Mercerus, so some in Drusius. (a) Vid. Martin. Sinic. Histor. l. 2. p. 36. & l. 4. p. 92. & l. 3. p. 287. (b) Xenophon. Oeconom. p. 482. (c) Homer. Iliad. 18. v. 550-558. (d) Flor. Hist. Roman. l. 1. c. 11. (e) So Schmidt Rambachius.
nor he that loveth abundance with increase; that is, he that coveteth a great deal of this world's things shall not be satisfied with the increase of them, let that be what it will; or, he shall have "no increase" (f), be ever the better for his abundance, or enjoy the comfort and benefit of it: or, "he that loveth abundance from whence there is no increase" (g); that loves to have a multitude of people about him, as manservants and maidservants; a large equipage, as Aben Ezra suggests, which are of very little use and service, or none at all;
this is also vanity: the immoderate love of money, coveting large estates and possessions, and to have a train of servants. Jarchi allegorically interprets silver and abundance, of the commands, and the multitude of them.
(f) "non erit proventus illi", Vatablus, Mercerus, Gejerus; "nullum fructum percipit", Tigurine version. (g) "Qui amat copiam, sc. multitudinem ex qua non est sperandus profectus", Schmidt, so Gussetius.
"that now he was possessed of much, that he neither ate, nor drank, nor slept the sweeter for it; what he got by his plenty was, that he had more committed to his keeping, and more to distribute to others; he had more care and more business, with trouble; for now, says he, many servants require food of me, many drink, many clothing, some need physicians, &c. it must needs be, adds he, that they that possess much must spend much on the gods, on friends, and on guests;''
and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes? he can go into his grounds, his fields, and his meadows to behold his flocks and his herds, and can say, all these are mine; he can go into his chambers and open his treasures, and feed his eyes with looking upon his bags of gold and silver, his jewels, and other riches; he can behold a multitude of people at his table, eating at his expense, and more maintained at his cost: and, if a liberal man, it may be a pleasure to him; if otherwise, it will give him pain: and, excepting these, he enjoys no more than food and raiment; and often so it is, that even his very servants have in some things the advantage of him, as follows. The Targum is,
"what profit is there to the owner thereof who gathers it, unless he does good with it, that he may see the gift of the reward with his eyes in the world to come?''
Jarchi interprets it after this manner,
"when men bring many freewill offerings, the priests are increased that eat them; and what good is to the owner of them, the Lord, but the sight of his eyes, who says, and his will is done?''
(h) Cyropaedia, l. 8. c. 26.
but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep; either the abundance of food which he eats, which loads his stomach, and fills his head with vapours, and makes him restless, so that he can get no sleep, or what he does get is very uncomfortable: or the abundance of his riches fills him with cares, what he shall do with them, and how to keep and increase them; and with fears, lest thieves should break in and take them away from him, so that he cannot sleep quietly (l). The Targum is,
"sweet is the sleep of a man that serves the Lord of the world with a perfect heart; and he shall have rest in the house of his grave, whether he lives a few years or more, &c;''
and much to the same purpose Jarchi; and who says, it is thus interpreted in an ancient book of theirs, called Tanchuma.
(i) , Sept. "servi", Arab. "i.e. agricolae", Drusius, Rambachius; "qui par regi famuloque venis", Senec. Hercul. Fur. v. 1073. (k) "Somnus agrestium lenis", &c. Horat. Carmin. l. 3. Ode 1. v. 21, 22. (l) "Ne noctu, nec diu quietus unquam eam", Plauti Aulularia, Acts 1. Sc. 1. v. 23. "Aurea rumpunt tecta quietem", Senec. Hercul. Oet. v. 646.
namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt; laid up in barns and granaries, as the fruits of the earth; or in chests and coffers, as gold and silver, for the use and service of the owners of them; and which yet have been to their real injury; being either used by them in a luxurious and intemperate way, so have brought diseases on their bodies, and damnation to their souls; or not used at all for their own good, or the good of others, which brings the curse of God upon them, to their ruin and destruction, both here and hereafter: and oftentimes so it is, and which no doubt had fallen under the observation of Solomon, that some who have been great misers, and have hoarded up their substance, without using them themselves, or sharing them with others, have not only been plundered of them, but, for the sake of them, their lives have been taken away in a most barbarous manner, by cutthroats and villains; sometimes by their own servants, nay, even by their own children. Riches ill gotten and ill used are very prejudicial to the owners; and if they are well got, but ill used, or not used at all, greatly hurt the spiritual and eternal state of men; it is a difficult thing for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven, and a covetous man cannot; if a professor, the word he hears is choked and made unprofitable; he errs from the faith, and pierces himself through with many sorrows now, and is liable to eternal damnation hereafter. The Targum interprets it of a man that gathers riches, and does no good with them; but keeps them to himself, to do himself evil in the world to come.
(m) "morbus malus", Tigurine version, Vatablus.
and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand; the riches he had hoarded up, he designed for his son; but being stripped of them by one means or another, when he comes to die, has nothing to leave his son: or if his riches do not perish in his own lifetime, yet they are quickly consumed by his son, who, in a short time, has nothing to live upon; and so being brought up a gentleman, and in no business, is in a worse condition than such who have been brought up to work for their living, and in no expectation of an estate after the decease of their friends. The Targum understands it in this latter sense, paraphrasing the words thus,
"and those riches, which he shall leave his son after his death, shall perish, because he hath gotten them in an evil way; and they shall not remain in the hand of the son whom he hath begotten; neither shall anything remain in his hand.''
(n) "occupatione, negotio, vel casu malo", Gejerus.
and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand; nothing of his substance, which he has got by his labour, and hoarded up with great care; not the least portion of it can he carry away with him when he dies; not any of his jewels, nor bags of gold and silver; and if any of these should be put into his grave, which has been sometimes done at the interment of great personages, these are of no manner of use and service to him, either to comfort and refresh his body, or to save his soul from hell, and procure it an entrance into the heavenly glory; see 1 Timothy 6:7. The Targum allegorizes this in a very orthodox way, not very usual, in favour of original sin, and against the doctrine of merit;
"as he goes out of his mother's womb naked, without a covering, and without any good; so he shall return to go to the house of his grave, indigent of merit, as he came into this world; and no good reward shall he receive by his labour, to take with him into the world to which he goes, that it may be for merit in his hand.''
so shall he go,.... This seems not to be an evil or vanity, distinct from the former; but the same repeated and confirmed, and expressed, if possible, in stronger terms, that a man is in all respects alike, when he goes out of the world, as when he came in. A man's birth is signified by "coming", that is, out of his mother's womb, and into the world; and which is a description of every man born into it, John 1:9; he is of the earth, earthly; comes forth like a flower, and springs up as grass; he comes not of himself, nor casually, but by means of his parents; and according to the determinate will of God, and to answer some end or other: and his death is signified by "going": a going the way of all flesh; a going out of the world; a going to the grave, the house of all living, a man's long home; it is like going from one house to another; for death is not an annihilation of man, but a remove of him from hence elsewhere; and a man's birth and death are in all points alike. This is to be understood of natural and civil things; of riches and honours, which men cannot carry with them; and with respect to them, they are as they were born, naked and stripped of them; and with respect to the body, the parts of it then are the same, though more grown; it is as naked as it was born; and a man is as much beholden to his friends for his grave as for his swaddling clothes; it becomes what it was at first, earth and dust; and as a man comes not into the world at his own will and pleasure, so neither does he go out of it at his will, but the Lord's. The Midrash interprets it thus,
"as a man comes into the world, with crying, weeping, and sighing, and without knowledge, so he goes out.''
Likewise this is only true of natural and unregenerate men as to moral things; as they are born in sin, they die in sin; with only this difference, an addition of more sin; as they come into the world without the image of God, without a righteousness, without holiness, and without the grace of God, so they go out of it without these things: but this is not true of saints and truly gracious persons; they come into the world with sin, but go out of it without it; being washed in the blood of Christ, justified by his righteousness, and all their sins expiated and pardoned through his sacrifice: they are born without a righteousness, but do not die without one; Christ has wrought out an everlasting righteousness for them; this is imputed to them; is received by faith; given them; they are found in it, living and dying; and this introduces them into heaven and happiness: they are born without holiness, but do not live and die without it; they are regenerated and sanctified by the Spirit of God, and at the moment of death made perfectly holy. This only therefore is true of men, as natural, and with respect to natural and civil things: the Targum interprets it,
"as he comes into this world void of merit, so he shall go into that;''
and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind? for riches, which are as unsatisfying as the wind; which are as shifting, and as swift to flee away, as that; and can no more be held, when it is the will of God they should go, and especially at death, than the wind is to be held in the fist of men; and which are as unprofitable as that in the hour of death. Particularly, what profit has a man of all his riches, which he has got by labour, when he neither makes use of them in life for his own good, nor the good of others; and when he comes to die, they leave him and stand him in no stead; and especially having been unconcerned about his immortal soul; and having been wholly taken up in the pursuit of such vain and transitory things? see Matthew 16:26.
"all his days he dwelleth in darkness, that he may taste his bread alone;''
and he hath, much sorrow and wrath with his sickness; either the sickness of his mind, his covetousness; or the sickness of his body, emaciated by withholding from himself the necessaries of life: or when he comes upon a sick bed, he is filled with sorrow and indignation, that he must live no longer, to accumulate more wealth, and accomplish his projects and designs; and that he must leave his wealth, he has been at so much pains to gather together. Or, "and he is much angry" (o); when things do not answer in trade according to his wishes; when his substance diminishes, or, however, does not increase as he desires; when he is cheated by fraudulent men, or robbed by thieves: "and he hath sickness" (p); either of body or mind, or both, because matters do not succeed as he would have them; and through fretfulness at losses and crosses, and disappointments; and through cares in getting and keeping what he has: "and wrath"; at all about him, whom he is ready to charge with slothfulness or unfaithfulness to him; and even at the providence of God, that does not give him the desired success; so that he has no manner of pleasure and comfort in life.
(o) "et irascitur multum", Vatablus, Drusius; "et indignatus fuit, vel indignatur multum", Piscator, Rambachius. (p) "et agritudo ei fuit, vel est", Piscator, Drusius; "vel fuerit", Gejerus.
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.
and hath given him power; or, "caused him to have dominion" (r), over his wealth and riches, and not be a slave to them, as many are: but to have so much command of them and of himself, as
to eat thereof; comfortably enjoy them; and dispose of them to his own good, the good of others, and the glory of God. It follows,
and to take his portion; which God hath allotted him; to take it thankfully, and use it freely and comfortably;
and to rejoice in his labour; in the things he has been labouring for, in a cheerful use of them; blessing God for them, and taking the comfort of them;
this is the gift of God; to have such power over his substance, and not be a slave to it, and to enjoy the fruits of his labour, in a cheerful and comfortable manner; this is as much the gift of God as riches themselves (s).
(r) "eumque dominari eum fecerit", Tigurine version; "imperare fecit eum", Gejerus; "dominari eum fecerit", Rambachius. (s) "Di tibi divitias dederunt, artemque fruendi", Horat. Ep. l. 1. Ep. 4. v. 7.