The Book of Ecclesiastes Chapter 8

We will now begin Chapter 8 of Ecclesiastes.

8:1 “Who is like the wise? Who knows the explanation of things? A person’s wisdom brightens their face and changes its hard appearance.”

  • Wisdom can make a person happier, which makes the face brighter and happier. The “hard appearance” is comparable to only knowing one reality. But with wisdom we can see many things, and our hearts and minds are more open.

8:2-4 “Obey the king’s command, I say, because you took an oath before God. Do not be in a hurry to leave the king’s presence. Do not stand up for a bad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases. Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say to him, “What are you doing?””

  • In 1 Chronicles 29:24 the officials and other sons of David promised David that they would be loyal to Solomon, their next king. Kings were to be the most respected people in the kingdom. You would be punished if you disobeyed the king and that would not be wise to do.

8:5-6 “Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a person may be weighed down by misery.”

  • It was wise to obey the king, otherwise you would be punished and often physical harm would come along with that punishment. The wise know when and how to do things, because there is a proper time for everything.

8:7-8 “Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come? As no one has power over the wind to contain it, so no one has power over the time of their death. As no one is discharged in time of war, so wickedness will not release those who practice it.”

  • Only God knows the future, so no one can predict the full future. As James 4:14-15 states “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”” Those who practice evil will continue to do so until they are changed by righteousness.  

8:9-10 “All this I saw, as I applied my mind to everything done under the sun. There is a time when a man lords it over others to his own hurt. Then too, I saw the wicked buried—those who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise in the city where they did this. This too is meaningless.”

  • What Solomon saw was the wicked being praised for their evil acts. This is meaningless, he says, because it does them no good. They have received their reward in full, just as Matthew 6:2 states.  

8:11-13 “When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong. Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him. Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.”

  • What Solomon says here, is that the longer a punishment is delayed, more evil acts will be done. But no matter how long a person lives and does evil, those who fear and obey God will live longer in eternity.

8:14 “There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless.”

  • There could be many things Solomon is referring to here. One may be that the righteous are getting persecuted, and the wicked, praise. These two things are opposite, and thinking about the way it ought to be, the righteous deserve the praise, and the wicked deserve punishment and persecution. Why is it opposite? Matthew 10:22, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” We endure suffering on this earth, and if we stay faithful we will receive the eternal reward.

8:15- “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”

  • King Solomon basically tells us to enjoy life. If we do this, then our life will be the fullest it can be. There will be joy in everything we do.

8:16-17 “When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the labor that is done on earth- people getting no sleep day or night- then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it.”

  • We can make the connection that no matter how hard man works, day or night, the work of God will always be more than man. What God can do is incomprehensible. Even if we search and search for it, we can never fully understand God and his power.

We now come to the end of Chapter 8.  

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