For man also knows not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare…
It is an ancient aphorism that every man thinks all men mortal but himself. Rather than encounter a realizing view of death, and engage in a serious preparation to meet it, men will hazard all consequences. They are like soldiers marching up to the battery of an enemy with their eyes and ears closed, and dreaming of safety because they neither see nor hear the motions of the foe. Death will come, however much a stranger it may be to our thoughts; and it will come with double ruin for having been kept out of view so long. It may come suddenly, like the convulsions of an earthquake which at dead of night buries whole cities in ruins. "Man also knoweth not his time;" that is, he is ignorant of the time of his death and the time when overwhelming calamities may come upon him. He may be stripped naked in one day like Job; or in the midst of his dreams of earthly happiness he may open his astonished eyes in the world of spirits. "As the fishes that are taken in an evil net" — while they are wandering securely, or sporting among pearls, or rushing together for food, little thinking of being suddenly drawn up in the concealed net. "And as the birds that are caught in the snare," while they are skipping sportively without apprehension, or are eager to pick up the grain which is spread to decoy them to death. "So are the sons of men snared in an evil time" — while they are sporting and feeding themselves, secure in conscious health, ignorant of the shaft that is festering in their breast. "When it falleth suddenly upon them." While they are most secure the arrow of the Almighty reaches their heart. While they are saying, "Soul, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry," the word comes, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee." Where are now the ancient empires of Assyria, and Babylon, and Persia, and Greece, and Rome? Where are the emperors, statesmen, philosophers, and bards of antiquity? Where is now the immense army of Xerxes, which seemed to darken Asia, and to sink with its weight the land of Greece? Where are now the many millions who have filled the world with noise and contention, with fame and folly for a hundred generations? Kingdom has trodden on the heel of kingdom, and nation has followed nation down to the land of forgetfulness. You hang over the grave by a thread on which the flame has seized, and you may look every moment to fall to rise not again "till the heavens be no more." Could the veil be drawn from eternity and discover to your astonished eyes the infinitely glorious or dreadful consequences depending on the present life; could then the veil be drawn from the many agents which are constantly striving within you to keep in order your complicated machine, and discover to you the many critical junctures which are daily occurring, which, without making you sensible of it, bring you within a bait's breadth of death; could the veil be also drawn from the course of nature around you, and disclose the dangers among which you walk by day and sleep by night; could you thus have a view of your hourly exposures and of the eternal interests at stake, you would start from your dream like a man awoke in a burning house, and flee for your life — ah, whither? whither but to the arms of Christ?
(E. D. Griffin, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.
WEB: For man also doesn't know his time. As the fish that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, even so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly on them.