Ecclesiastes 8:4

4 Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say to him, “What are you doing?”

Ecclesiastes 8:4 in Other Translations

4 Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?
4 For the word of the king is supreme, and who may say to him, "What are you doing?"
4 His command is backed by great power. No one can resist or question it.
4 The king has the last word. Who dares say to him, "What are you doing?"
4 For the king's word is authoritative, and who can say to him, "What are you doing?"

Ecclesiastes 8:4 Meaning and Commentary

Ecclesiastes 8:4

Where the word of a king [is, there is] power
Or "dominion" F26. Authority goes along with his word of command; and there is an inferior magistracy, a subordinate power under him, ready to execute his will upon the rebellious and disobedient. Jarchi interprets it, the word of the holy blessed God; and the Targum, the word of that King who rules over all the world; where his word of doctrine comes, not in word only, it is with power: his written word is quick and powerful; the word of his Gospel preached is the power of God to salvation; or is accompanied with power to enlighten dark minds, quicken dead sinners, unstop deaf ears, soften hard hearts, and deliver men from the slavery of sin and Satan; it makes men, of enemies, friends to God, Christ, and good men; transforms them by the renewing of their minds, and comforts and establishes saints; all which is attributed to the word; and are the effects of almighty power, ( Hebrews 4:12 ) ( Romans 1:16 ) ; his word of command also comes with power, being clothed with his authority; and is submitted to by his people in the day of his power upon them, who readily and cheerfully obey it; and who may say unto him, what dost thou?
call him to an account for, or complain of any of his works of creation, providence, or grace? This best agrees with God than with an earthly king; and is said of him elsewhere, ( Job 9:12 ) ( 33:14 ) ( Daniel 4:35 ) .


F26 (Nwjlv) "imperium", Montanus, Rambachius; "dominatio", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius.

Ecclesiastes 8:4 In-Context

2 Obey the king’s command, I say, because you took an oath before God.
3 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.
4 Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say to him, “What are you doing?”
5 Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.
6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a person may be weighed down by misery.

Cross References 1

  • 1. Job 9:12; Esther 1:19; Daniel 4:35
Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.