Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Ecclesiastes 8

Verse 1

A wise man understands things that a fool does not. Moreover, he is able to behave appropriately. One"s facial and general appearances reflect wise behavior (cf. Numbers 6:25; Proverbs 7:13).

Verses 1-9

The value of Wisdom of Solomon 8:1-9

In Solomon"s day, the king had far-reaching power over his subjects. Therefore it became imperative to avoid his wrath. We must keep this background in view because it lies behind what Solomon said in chapter8.

Verses 2-4

The wise man behaves appropriately in the presence of his king. He keeps his oath of allegiance that he has made before God ( Ecclesiastes 8:2). He does not resign from his service ( Ecclesiastes 8:3 a) or join in a revolt against the king ( Ecclesiastes 8:3 b). Furthermore, he does not dispute the king"s authority and sovereignty ( Ecclesiastes 8:4).

Verses 5-7

The wise person also knows when and how to speak and act ( Ecclesiastes 8:5). Often people suffer harm as a result of not knowing what will happen and when ( Ecclesiastes 8:6-7). Consequently, they misdirect their words and deeds.

Verse 8-9

Ecclesiastes 8:8 means that no one can escape the consequences of his or her own wickedness. The idea is that the king will punish him or her ( Ecclesiastes 8:9). Thus it is important to have wisdom.

Verses 10-14

There are two apparent inequities in Ecclesiastes 8:10. First, the wicked get an honorable burial. Second, people soon forget the godly. These verses provide instances of exceptions to the retribution doctrine.

Verses 10-17

The limitations of Wisdom of Solomon 8:10-17

Wisdom can enable a person to avoid the king"s wrath ( Ecclesiastes 8:2-9), but it cannot enable him or her to understand fully why God deals with people as He does ( Ecclesiastes 8:10-17).

Verse 15

In view of these contradictions, Solomon again recommended the enjoyment of life, not in a pleasure-mad way but in the sense of enjoying the fruits of one"s labor (cf. Ecclesiastes 2:24; Ecclesiastes 3:12-13; Ecclesiastes 5:18-19). This joy will make labor more enjoyable. We should receive each day"s joys as God"s good gifts and rejoice in them.

Verse 16-17

Solomon meant that even the wisest, most energetic person could not fully understand God"s ways (cf. Ecclesiastes 7:14 b; Ecclesiastes 7:28 a; Matthew 9:34). This is a point he made since Ecclesiastes 6:10.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.