In Civil Relations
v. 1. Who is as the wise man? equal to him in the right understanding of things. And who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? The advantages of true-wisdom are again emphasized. A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, a sunny countenance being the reflection of a wise and serene mind, and the boldness of his face shall be changed, for the truly cultured person avoids all coarseness, cultivating, instead, a proper form of benign conduct.
v. 2. I counsel thee to keep the king's commandment, such obedience being the course followed by true wisdom, and that in regard of the oath of God, for by such an oath the subject vows allegiance to the king. A willing loyalty is not only expedient, it is demanded by God, it comes within the Fourth Commandment.
v. 3. Be not hasty to go out of his sight, in disobedience or slavish terror; stand not in an evil thing, literally, "in an evil word," that is, it behooves the subject to be modest, yet firm, in the presence of the ruler, even if he speak an angry word; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him, the author, of course, having in mind the absolute authority of Oriental monarchs. It is surely a proof of great wisdom if a person can so conduct himself before such a potentate as to hold his own, giving way neither to terror nor to obstinacy.
v. 4. Where the word of a king is, there is power, for so his rule is established; and who may say unto him, What doest thou?
v. 5. Whoso keepeth the commandment, obeying the commands of the government in power as the representatives of God on earth, shall feel no evil thing, for naturally no punishment for transgression of the laws will strike him; and a wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment, he knows that there is a time of punishment upon every evil and therefore avoids transgressions.
v. 6. Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man, namely, of him who disregards the truth and warning contained in this fact, is great upon him, be is visited with heavy misfortune.
v. 7. For he knoweth not that which shall be, since he neglected to heed the warning and did not properly weigh the consequences of his acts; for who can tell him when it shall be? The destiny of the judgment strikes such a person with great suddenness, because he has failed to note the accepted time and the day of salvation, 2Co_6:2.
v. 8. There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit, no human being can hold and control the breath of life; neither hath he power in the day of death, he must yield up his life when it is required of him; and there is no discharge in that war, as in the case of military service, no one is exempt from obedience to the call which death sends forth; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it, the godless cannot hope to escape from the penalty of temporal and eternal death.
Over Against Tyranny and Injustice
v. 9. All this have I seen and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun, in seeking proper explanations of all the various circumstances in life, the question of tyranny also engaged his attention; there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt, for in exercising oppression the tyrant damages his own cause, 1 Kings 12.
v. 10. And so I saw the wicked buried, in an honorable burial, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, where they sat as God's representatives, and they, the godly people, were forgotten in the city where they had so done, namely, in living an honorable and upright life; this is also vanity, namely, the unequal distribution of destinies in human life.
v. 11. Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, many flagrant offenses going unpunished on account of the slowness or the miscarriage of justice, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil, for in such circumstances criminals will feel safe in assuming that punishment will not strike them.
v. 12. Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, so that, to all intents, he is safe in his sinning, yet surely I know, in spite of the apparent evidence to the contrary, that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before Him, the godly finally receiving the recognition which God intends for them;
v. 13. but it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, the punishment of God is bound finally to strike him; because he feareth not before God, Psa_73:18-20.
v. 14. There is a vanity which is done upon the earth, a circumstance which shows the emptiness of the present life, that there be just men, true children of God, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous, this strange commingling and interchange of fortunes being one of the riddles of the universe; I said that this also is vanity, it seemed to emphasize the futility of this world.
v. 15. Then I commended mirth, a proper and godly cheerfulness, because a man hath no better thing under the sun than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry, in the right use of God's gifts and blessings; for that shall abide with him of his labor the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun, it is the one sure thing to be enjoyed from earthly work.
v. 16. When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth, the travail and trouble caused by his anxious search for the grounds and aims of human action, fate, and life; (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes, in his anxiety knowing no rest;)
v. 17. then I beheld all the work of God, he made this observation with regard to all the works of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun, he is unable to solve all the mysteries which present themselves to him; because, though a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it, the mystery being beyond human understanding; yea, farther: though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it, and all human speculations regarding the motives of God in the government of the world are futile. Full and absolute trust is required on the part of God's children.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Easter