Ecclesiastes 8 (web)

Obeying Human Authority

8:1 Who is like the wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
A man's wisdom makes his face shine, and the hardness of his face is changed.
8:2 I say, "Keep the king's command!" because of the oath to God.
8:3 Don't be hasty to go out of his presence.
Don't persist in an evil thing, for he does whatever pleases him,
8:4 for the king's word is supreme. Who can say to him, "What are you doing?"
8:5 Whoever keeps the commandment shall not come to harm,
and his wise heart will know the time and procedure.

Unknown Future, Unknown Meaning

8:6 For there is a time and procedure for every purpose, although the misery of man is heavy on him.
8:7 For he doesn't know that which will be; for who can tell him how it will be?
8:8 There is no man who has power over the spirit to contain the spirit;
neither does he have power over the day of death.
There is no discharge in war; neither shall wickedness deliver those who practices it.

8:9 All this have I seen, and applied my mind to every work that is done under the sun.
There is a time in which one man has power over another to his hurt.
8:10 So I saw the wicked buried. Indeed they came also from holiness.
They went and were forgotten in the city where they did this.
This also is vanity.

8:11 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.
8:12 Though a sinner commits crimes a hundred times, and lives long,
yet surely I know that it will be better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him.
8:13 But it shall not be well with the wicked,
neither shall he lengthen days like a shadow; because he doesn't fear God.
8:14 There is a vanity which is done on the earth,
that there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked.
Again, there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous.
I said that this also is vanity.

8:15 Then I commended mirth, because a man has no better thing under the sun,
than to eat, and to drink, and to be joyful: for that will accompany him in his labor
all the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.
8:16 When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on the earth
(for also there is that neither day nor night sees sleep with his eyes),
8:17 then I saw all the work of God, that man can't find out the work that is done under the sun,
because however much a man labors to seek it out, yet he won't find it.
Yes, moreover, though a wise man thinks he can comprehend it, yet he won't be able to find it.


Paraphrase

Don't harden your face against an authority figure in continuing to persist in an evil deed. Because of your oath to God, submit to legitimate human authority figures. The wise will know the time and procedures to appropriately deal in such human affairs even if life is miserable. Contain your spirit, for other than death your future is uncertain. You cannot deliver yourself from your problems in life by practicing wickedness, even if the one in authority over you harms you. For the wicked will be forgotten. Authority figures are partly to be blamed for the spread of wickedness if they don't execute justice swiftly, for then the hearts of men become set fully on evil. People will tend to do whatever evil they feel they can get away with. But in the long run though criminals "get away" with it temporarily, yet know that it will not go well with them on the day of judgement. But it will go well with those who fear God. But on the earth it may not appear that way. But don't worry about it. Eat, drink and be joyful. But don't set your heart on earthly matters. People stay up nights just trying to get fulfillment from work and derive some meaning and purpose from it. But they won't be able to. Because that's not its function.



The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015