Ecclesiastes 8

1 Who is as the wise man? and who is as he who knows the interpretation of all things? The wisdom of this man shall make his face to shine, and the coarseness of his face shall be changed.
2 I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment and the word of the covenant that thou hast made with God.
3 Do not be hasty to rebel against him; do not persist in any evil thing, for he shall do whatsoever pleases him;
4 because the word of the king is his power and who may say unto him, What doest thou?
5 Whosoever keeps the commandment shall experience no evil thing, and a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment.
6 Because for every will there is time and judgment, because the evil of man is great upon him,
7 for he does not know that which shall be; nor when it shall be. Who will teach it to him?
8 There is no man that has power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither does he have power over the day of death, and weapons are of no use in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.
9 All this I have seen and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: the time in which one man rules over another to his own hurt.
10 Then I also saw that the wicked who were buried came into remembrance more than those who had frequented the holy place, and these were forgotten in the city where they had worked uprightly. This also is vanity.
11 Because the 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.
12 Though a sinner does evil one hundred times and his judgment is prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with those that fear God, who fear before his presence;
13 but it shall never be well with the wicked, neither shall his days be prolonged, which are as a shadow, because he did not fear before the presence of God.
14 There is another vanity which is done upon the earth: that there are just men, who are recompensed as if they had done according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men, who are recompensed as if they had done according to the work of the righteous; I say that this also is vanity.
15 Therefore I commended joy because a man has no better thing under the sun than to eat and to drink and to be merry, for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God gives him under the sun.
16 Therefore I applied mine heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done upon the earth (for also there is he that neither day nor night sees sleep with his eyes).
17 And I have seen regarding all the works of God that man cannot attain to understand the work that is being done under the sun, because though a man labours to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; even though the wise man says that he knows it, yet he shall not be able to attain it.

Ecclesiastes 8 Commentary

Chapter 8

Commendations of wisdom. (1-5) To prepare for sudden evils and death. (6-8) It shall be well with the righteous, and ill with the wicked. (9-13) Mysteries of Providence. (14-17)

Verses 1-5 None of the rich, the powerful, the honourable, or the accomplished of the sons of men, are so excellent, useful, or happy, as the wise man. Who else can interpret the words of God, or teach aright from his truths and dispensations? What madness must it be for weak and dependent creatures to rebel against the Almighty! What numbers form wrong judgments, and bring misery on themselves, in this life and that to come!

Verses 6-8 God has, in wisdom, kept away from us the knowledge of future events, that we may be always ready for changes. We must all die, no flight or hiding-place can save us, nor are there any weapons of effectual resistance. Ninety thousand die every day, upwards of sixty every minute, and one every moment. How solemn the thought! Oh that men were wise, that they understood these things, that they would consider their latter end! The believer alone is prepared to meet the solemn summons. Wickedness, by which men often escape human justice, cannot secure from death.

Verses 9-13 Solomon observed, that many a time one man rules over another to his hurt, and that prosperity hardens them in their wickedness. Sinners herein deceive themselves. Vengeance comes slowly, but it comes surely. A good man's days have some substance; he lives to a good purpose: a wicked man's days are all as a shadow, empty and worthless. Let us pray that we may view eternal things as near, real, and all-important.

Verses 14-17 Faith alone can establish the heart in this mixed scene, where the righteous often suffer, and the wicked prosper. Solomon commended joy, and holy security of mind, arising from confidence in God, because a man has no better thing under the sun, though a good man has much better things above the sun, than soberly and thankfully to use the things of this life according to his rank. He would not have us try to give a reason for what God does. But, leaving the Lord to clear up all difficulties in his own time, we may cheerfully enjoy the comforts, and bear up under the trials of life; while peace of conscience and joy in the Holy Ghost will abide in us through all outward changes, and when flesh and heart shall fail.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO ECCLESIASTES 8

The preacher begins this chapter with the praise of wisdom, from its excellency and usefulness, Ec 8:1; and advises men, if they would live quietly and comfortably, to honour and obey the king that rules over them, and not be rebellious against him, since he has great power and authority, Ec 8:2-5; and not be anxious about things to come, since there is a set time for everything, and future things cannot be known nor frustrated; and, particularly, there is no avoiding the hour and stroke of death, Ec 8:6-8; Though there are times wherein wicked men rule over others, it is to their own hurt, and they must die; and though they may be pompously buried, yet are soon forgotten, Ec 8:9,10; and the reason of their insolence is the delay of justice; yet there will come a time when it shall be well with them that fear God, and ill with the wicked, though they may live long in wickedness; and for the present it may befall good then what wicked men deserve, and wicked men may have that which might, be thought more proper for good men, Ec 8:11-14; wherefore this should give no uneasiness; but men should cheerfully and freely enjoy what they have with thankfulness, there being nothing better than that under the sun, Ec 8:15; and the chapter is concluded with observing the unsearchableness of divine Providence, Ec 5:16,17.

Ecclesiastes 8 Commentaries

The Jubilee Bible

(from the Scriptures of the Reformation)

edited by Russell M. Stendal

Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2010