Verse 15. And wine that maketh glad the heart of man. By the aid of genial showers the earth produces not merely necessaries but luxuries, that which furnishes a feast as well as that which makes a meal. O that man were wise enough to know how to use this gladdening product of the vine; but, alas, he full often turns it to ill account, and debases himself therewith. Of this he must himself bear the blame; he deserves to be miserable who turns even blessings into curses.
And oil to make his face to shine. The easterns use oil more than we do, and probably are wiser in this respect than we are: they delight in anointing with perfumed oils, and regard the shining of the face as a choice emblem of joy. God is to be praised for all the products of the soil, not one of which could come to us were it not that he causeth it to grow.
And bread which strengtheneth man's heart. Men have more courage after they are fed: many a depressed spirit has been comforted by a good substantial meal. We ought to bless God for strength of heart as well as force of limb, since if we possess them they are both the bounties of his kindness.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 15. -- When thou wert taken out of the womb, what a stately palace did he bring thee into, the world, which thou foundest prepared and ready furnished with all things for thy maintenance, as Canaan was to the children of Israel; a stately house thou buildest not, trees thou plantedst not, a rich canopy spangled, spread as a curtain over thy head; he sets up a taper for thee to work by, the sun, till thou art weary ( Psalms 104:23 ), and then it goes down without thy bidding, for it "knows its going down" ( Psalms 104:19 ); then he draws a curtain over half the world, that men may go to rest: "Thou causest darkness, and it is night" ( Psalms 104:20 ). As an house this world is, so curiously contrived that to every room of it, even to every poor village, springs do come as pipes to find thee water (Ps 104:11). The pavement of which house you tread on and it brings forth thy food (Ps 104:14), "Bread for strength, wine to cheer thy heart, oil to make thy face to shine" ( Psalms 104:15 ). Which three are there synecdochically put for all things needful to strength, ornament, and delight. --Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 15. -- Wine that maketh glad the heart of man. The wine mentioned had the quality of fermented liquors; it gladdened the heart. Thus, if taken to excess, it would have led to intoxication. The Hebrew term is "yayin", answering to the Greek oinos, and including every form which the juice of the grape might be made to assume as a beverage. It was this of which Noah partook when he became drunken ( Genesis 9:21 Genesis 9:24 ). Melchizedek brought it forth to Abraham ( Genesis 14:18 ). Lot's daughters gave it to their father and made him drunk ( Genesis 14:35 ). From this the Nazarite was to separate himself ( Numbers 6:3-20 ). This is the highly intoxicating drink so often mentioned by Isaiah ( Isaiah 5:11-22 12:13 28:1-7); but just because of this, it might become to man one of those mercies in connection with the use of which he was to exercise constant self control. Taken to excess it was a curse; enjoyed as from God, it was something for which man was called to be thankful. --John Duns.
Verse 15. -- And oil to make his face to shine. Observe, after the mention of wine, he speaks of oil or ointment, because at the banquets among the Jews and other Eastern people, as afterwards among the Greeks and Romans, there was a frequent use of ointments. The reasons why ointment was poured upon the head were: To avoid intoxication: To improve the health: To contribute to pleasure and delight. Homer often refers to this custom, and there is an allusion to it by Solomon, Ecclesiastes 9:8 , "Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment". See also Psalms 23:5 . --Le Blanc.
Verse 15. -- The ancients made much use of oil to beautify their persons. We read of "oil to make man's face to shine". Ruth anointed herself for decoration ( Ruth 3:3 ), and the woman of Tekoah and the prophet Daniel omitted the use of oil for the contrary reason ( 2 Samuel 14:3 Daniel 10:3 ). The custom is also mentioned in Matthew 6:17 Luke 7:46 . --Ambrose Serle in "Horae Solitariae", 1815.
Verse 15. -- Bread which strengtheneth man's heart. In hunger not only the strength is prostrated, but the natural courage is also abated. Hunger has no enterprise, emulation, nor courage. But when in such circumstances, a little bread is received into the stomach, even before concoction can have time to prepare it for nutriment, the strength is restored, and the spirits revived. This is a surprising effect, and it has not yet been satisfactorily accounted for. --Adam Clarke.
Verse 15. -- Bread which strengtheneth man's heart. In Homer's Odyssey we meet with the expression "Bread, the marrow of men."
Verse 15. -- Man's heart. It is not without reason that instead of the word ~dah, of Adam, which was used in Psalms 104:14 , there is here employed the word fwba, an infirm and feeble man, because he mentions those nourishments of which there was no need before the fall, and which are specially suitable to nourish and exhilarate feeble man. -- Venema.
Verse 15. -- If the transitory earth is so full of the good things of God, what will we have when we come to the land of the living? --Starke, in Lange's Commentary.