Keep the King’s Command
8 Who is like the wise?
And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
A man’s wisdom makes his face shine,
and the hardness of his face is changed.
I say: Keep the king’s command, because of God’s oath to him. Be not hasty to go from his presence. Do not take your stand in an evil cause, for he does whatever he pleases. For the word of the king is supreme, and who may say to him, “What are you doing?” Whoever keeps a command will know no evil thing, and the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way. For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him. For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him how it will be? No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death. There is no discharge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it. All this I observed while applying my heart to all that is done under the sun, when man had power over man to his hurt.
Those Who Fear God Will Do Well
Then I saw the wicked buried. They used to go in and out of the holy place and were praised in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity. Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
Man Cannot Know God’s Ways
There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.
When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one’s eyes see sleep, then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.
Ecclesiastes 8 Commentary
by Hank Workman
The world’s wisest man admitted in actuality he knew nothing. Solomon’s confesses toward looking at the grandeur of God, the endurance of the righteous even though they are mistreated and how those bent on evil often seem to get away with their behavior. Looking at things through earthly lenses it is easy to become discouraged at such. But the driving point he makes here is no one can comprehend the greatness of God and what He’s doing. Unanswered questions abound as nothing makes sense so often.
We’ve all been there. Maybe we’re there now. We are enduring a situation where we have done everything we possibly could. We have attempted to be upright and faithful even though it has been met with hardship. This seems like the never-ending cycle of life. Our prayers for intervention fall flat. Our asking for a breath of fresh air still brings in the winds of turmoil. We are all guilty of embracing the shadows and darkness that fall upon us at times.
The very unknown of what God is doing will never be revealed until He speaks the words of it to be. Even though the evil of man oppresses, God has not lost control. It may indeed seem that way but the truth of the matter is He still is on His throne. We cannot allow the situations pressing in on us to dictate our joy, trust and faith because “Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.”
In such moments it is imperative we declare that no matter what we are facing – God knows our hardship. He has a plan. He is in control. We must circle the wagons of what little faith we may even have right now and draw into Him for such assurance. I am reminded that often God allows things to go the way they do for a tremendous movement of Him in the end. It’s often a move we never saw coming but when the chips fall there is this shock and awe of His greatness.
Where does this resonate for you personally? Where do you need to cling to such promises of truth that God is in control? All of our earthly wisdom and insight to matters, much like Solomon, we must come to a point of surrender that we really don’t know what He’s doing but we trust Him.
Ecclesiastes 8 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
For the king’s word is authoritative, and who can say to him, “What are you doing?”Ecclesiastes 8:4 HCSB
How many today question God? How many today say to Him, “What are you doing?” Just think of how many question God’s involvement in life today. We read the same theme in Job and Daniel.
If He snatches something, who can stop Him? Who can ask Him, “What are You doing?”Job 9:12 HCSB
You will be driven away from people to live with the wild animals, and you will feed on grass like cattle for seven periods of time, until you acknowledge that the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men, and He gives it to anyone He wants.”Daniel 4:32 HCSB
The sovereignty and authority of God cannot be questioned. Of course, in our sin, we do question Him. And He can handle that. A wise lady once told me, “Don’t make a habit out of questioning God. You undoubtedly will do it, but you better apologize later!”
What it really comes down to is humility. And honestly, this is what all of us need more of. If you remember in previous chapters of Ecclesiastes, Solomon is all about searching for meaning and doing it all for himself. He would have been better off discovering the riches of this life by self-sacrifice and service. That is what brings true joy.
We cannot begin to be fruitful followers of Christ until we acknowledge God’s authority and bend our knee to His leadership of love.