Scriptures

Ecclesiastes 8

Introduction

It seems that from the time that Zadok the priest anointed Solomon as king, 1 Kings 1:29, he began to hear the people say, ‘Long live King Solomon.’ In his first trial where he rendered just judgment as to which woman the baby would be given, 1 Kings 3:16-28.

His fame began to spread and people talked about his great wisdom. Both power and prestige became a part of his life. He heard praise and honour from faraway places. The Queen of Sheba said that ‘But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.’ 1 Kings 10:7.

Power and prestige often cause the downfall of men of God, even in the Lord’s church. Power is like a devastating pestilence as it pollutes, poisons, and profanes those whose convictions are not true to the Almighty. The desire for power can turn men into a ‘Diotrephes’, 3 John 9-10. Prestige, popularity and power are three dangerous words. They can lead one to lose sight of who they really are. They begin to think more highly of themselves than they should.

Power And Prestige Are Meaningless

‘Who is like the wise? Who knows the explanation of things? A person’s wisdom brightens their face and changes its hard appearance. 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?’ 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. 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. 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.’ Ecclesiastes 8:1-9

Solomon addresses those who reign but are unjust, we can also apply this to anyone who is living under a corrupt government, Romans 13:1-5.

If anyone gave an oath of obedience to a king, then they must fulfil that oath because the oath was made in the presence of God. They must obey the king and not rebel against him, this is about being submissive to the king, as it’s the king who has all the authority in the land their living in, and as his subjects, we must be willing to do what he says.

If they are obedient to the king, they will avoid the king’s wrath, in other words, if people want to avoid civil war, they must respect the civil laws.

So often we hear about unjust kings and governments, however the wise will know that the time will come when that unjust king or government will be judged. None of us know what the future holds, so we should be patient and wait for that time of judgment to come upon the king or government. Remember unjust kings die eventually too.

As it is in most cases where unjust kings or governments rule unjustly, we will always find those who rise up against them. The problem is that most people go about it the wrong way and so they end up doing things which are just as bad as those in charge. Solomon says, anyone who uses wicked means to topple a wicked king or government will only get worse. In other words, two wrongs don’t make a right.

‘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. 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.’ Ecclesiastes 8:10-13

Solomon tells us that even though a king is unjust or a government is evil, they will all eventually die and before long they will be forgotten. It’s very easy to think that these unjust rulers will get away with their actions, but we must remember that they will face the judgment of God when they die, Acts 17:31.

Solomon says that everything will be well for the righteous, regardless of any judgment in this life on the wicked. In other words, we must focus on God and all the blessings He pours upon us, knowing that God will eventually bring about their judgment, Revelation 6:10-11.

When I was younger, I was fascinated by my shadow, especially when the sun came out, at different times of the day it would point in different directions and have different lengths.

Solomon says the wicked can’t prolong their life as a shadow becomes longer as the sun sets. It’s not within the power of the wicked to prolong their lives and so we must be patient for God to deliver us from those unjust rulers.

‘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. 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.’ Ecclesiastes 8:14-15

Like a lot people who live, Solomon here sees the injustice between the wicked and the righteous. He sees the righteous being rewarded according to the deeds of the wicked and he see the wicked being rewarded according to the deeds of the righteous.

Because of this he says that we should just eat, drink and be glad, however this is what we would do if we didn’t believe in God and follow His ways, Ecclesiastes 3:22 / Ecclesiastes 5:18. We must remember there’s more to life than eating, drinking and being glad, there is eternal life to think about, Colossians 3:1-2.

‘When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the labour 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.’ Ecclesiastes 8:16-17

Those who focus so much on worldly things, those who focus so much on the purpose of our world, will often become irritated because they can’t find the answer, Isaiah 55:6-11, and as a result they can’t find anything good about life at all. In fact, Solomon lost sleep trying to figure it out, he lost sleep trying to figure out how the world is in the mess it’s in.

People often ask, why is there so much suffering in the world? The only way to answer that question is by reminding them that there is a God, who has a purpose for each of us, it’s people’s sin that causes all the suffering in the world.

Go To Ecclesiastes 9

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

Hebrews 12:1

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