Attention!
Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day.

Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ecclesiastes 8:11

Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Depravity of Man;   God Continued...;   Heart;   Impenitence;   Punishment;   Security;   Wicked (People);   Thompson Chain Reference - Delays, Divine;   Error;   Evil;   Heart;   Impenitence;   Penalty, Delayed;   Penitence-Impenitence;   Punishment;   Sin;   Sin's;   Sin-Saviour;   Sinful;   Transgression;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Heart, Character of the Unrenewed;   Long-Suffering of God, the;   Punishment of the Wicked, the;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Wrath;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Patience of God;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Heart;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, the Book of;   Joab;   Law;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ecclesiastes;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Assurance;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for August 27;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse Ecclesiastes 8:11. Because sentenceפתגם pithgam, a Divine decree or declaration. This is no Hebrew, but a mere Chaldee word, and occurs only in the later books of the Bible - Esther, Ezra and Daniel, and nowhere else but in this place. Because God does not immediately punish every delinquency, men think he disregards evil acts; and therefore they are emboldened to sin on. So this longsuffering of God, which leadeth to repentance, is abused so as to lead to farther crimes! When men sin against the remedy of their salvation, how can they escape perdition?

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8:11". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ecclesiastes-8.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


Compromise, despair and joy (8:1-17)

Wisdom helps people see the underlying meaning of things and teaches them that to act with pleasantness is better than to act with harshness (8:1). If, for example, people work in the king’s palace, they will do what the king says, partly because they have sworn before God to be obedient and partly because they will be punished if they disobey. But if they find the king’s command unreasonable, wisdom will show them a way out. They will wait for a suitable opportunity to act, then act in such a way that, though they do not disobey the king, neither do they sin against their conscience (2-5).
Despite the compromise he recommends, the writer knows that people remain uneasy about the outcome and about the future in general. They know they have no control over life or death. Just as there is no escape from a battle, so there is no guaranteed success to wrongdoers (6-8).
Often there appears to be no principle of justice at work in the world. The wicked go unpunished and, even when they are dead and buried, people still praise them for their achievements in life (9-10). It seems that this lack of punishment encourages people to sin (11-12a). The writer knows what the traditional teachers say: that those who fear God will be rewarded and those who are wicked will be punished (12b-13). But he also knows that often the opposite is true (14). People should not despair over these problems, but rather enjoy whatever God has given them in life (15). They should not spend weary days and sleepless nights puzzling over problems to which only God knows the answer (16-17).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8:11". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/ecclesiastes-8.html. 2005.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter 8

Who is as the wise man? and who knows the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom makes his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed. I counsel thee to keep the king's commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God. Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him. Where the word of the king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What are you doing? ( Ecclesiastes 8:1-4 )

The king stands as the authority. You can't really come to the king and say, "Hey, what are you doing?" And the same is true of God. Paul said, "Who are you to say unto Him that has created you, 'Why hast Thou made me thus?'" ( Romans 9:20 ) The sovereignty of the king, which also speaks to the sovereignty of God.

Whoso keeps the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man's heart discerns both time and judgment. Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be? ( Ecclesiastes 8:5-7 )

So you don't really know what's going to be, when it's going to be. The future is so uncertain.

There is no man that has power over his spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it ( Ecclesiastes 8:8 ).

No man has any power over the spirit. When the time comes for you to die, you don't have any power over your spirit to retain it, to cause your spirit to remain. No power in death. The only one who really did exercise that kind of power over his spirit was Jesus Christ. When on the cross, it said, "He bowed his head and dismissed His Spirit" ( John 19:30 ). He had earlier said unto them, "No man takes My life from Me, I give My life" ( John 10:18 ). In order to keep with what He said, "No man takes My life," when He was hanging there on the cross after He cried, "It is finished" ( John 19:30 ), "Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit" ( Luke 23:46 ), He bowed His head, and it said, "And He dismissed His Spirit." He said, "Okay, you can go now." And He died. He had power over His Spirit to dismiss it. We don't have that power.

All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man rules over another to his own hurt. And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity ( Ecclesiastes 8:9-10 ).

I see life moving on. People are soon forgotten after they die. Life is empty.

Now because 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 ( Ecclesiastes 8:11 ).

One of the common mistakes that people make is that of misinterpreting the nature of God. One aspect of God's nature is His tremendous patience with rebelling man. God is exceedingly long-suffering. God puts up with so much. He doesn't strike immediately, but oftentimes forestalls judgment for months, for years. And thus, it appears that the evil man is getting away with his evil actions, his evil deeds. And people begin to misinterpret the long-suffering of God. Because He doesn't execute His sentence speedily, because He doesn't immediately come down to the fist of judgment upon a man, a man many times thinks he's getting away with his evil. Thinks he has put one over on God. Thinks that he has been clever and has hid his sin from God, or worse yet, thinks that God is condoning what he has done. Because I'm still blessed and I'm prosperous. "I'm a prosperous cheat, so God is condoning my cheating. It doesn't matter to God that I cheat. It doesn't matter to God that I lie or I steal or whatever because look, I'm blessed. It doesn't matter to God that I'm living an immoral life, because look at all that I have." And people begin to misinterpret God's grace and God's long suffering as God's approbation for their actions and for their lives. Not so. That's a fatal mistake to make. God does know. God does see. God does care. God will judge. But because God doesn't judge immediately, because the sentence of God isn't executed speedily, because God is giving you opportunity to turn, God is giving you opportunity to repent, God is giving you the opportunity to come out of your sin and to be saved and He's very patient with you. God's not willing that any should perish but that all should come into repentance. You see, the real delay in the return of Jesus Christ is just God's unwillingness that men should perish.

As Peter is talking about the second coming of the Lord, he said, "Hey, in the last days there are going to be scoffers that are going to come saying, 'Where is the promise of Jesus coming again? They've been talking about that for years. He hasn't come and He's not going to come. Things just continue as they were from the beginning.'" But Peter said, "God isn't slack concerning His promises, as some men count slackness, but He's faithful to usward. But He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" ( 2 Peter 3:9 ). Therefore, consider ye actually this time as God's patience in order that men might be saved.

So, because God has waited so long, because God hasn't speedily executed His sentence against the evil, people begin to assume that God has just withdrawn Himself. That Jesus isn't coming again. That all of the talk of the rapture of the church and the return of Jesus Christ is just piped dreams, a misinterpretation of scriptures. And they begin to make fun of the return of Jesus Christ. They begin to scoff at it, even as Peter said they would. It's because they are misinterpreting the patience of God waiting for men to be saved, because God is not willing that any should perish. So God is very kind. He's very loving. He's very patient. He's very long-suffering. He's giving you chance after chance after chance. But it is tragic when people misinterpret God's patience and God's kindness. And thus, they give their hearts over to evil because they think that God is too remote to care. "It doesn't really matter to God how I live. God doesn't really know." And they give their hearts and their lives over to evil to live an evil life. That is a tragic, fatal mistake of misinterpreting God's grace and God's goodness to you.

Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged ( Ecclesiastes 8:12 ),

Remember he was talking about how he saw that the ungodly man was living a long life, the righteous were dying young and the ungodly were living long. So, "Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and his days be prolonged,"

yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him ( Ecclesiastes 8:12 ):

Now, in the end the best life is the life of fearing God, walking with God. Fear of the Lord is to depart from evil. So I know that in the long run that life is the best. It's going to be well with the man who has departed from evil.

But it shall not be well with the wicked ( Ecclesiastes 8:13 ),

In the end God's judgment will come. You can't escape it. God's judgment will come, and thus, I surely know it will be well with those that fear God. "But it shall not be well with the wicked."

neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he fears not before God. There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous: so I said that this also is vanity ( Ecclesiastes 8:13-14 ).

Things happen to both good and evil men. Same kind of experiences to both. A righteous man gets cancer; an unrighteous man gets cancer. A righteous man has prospered; an unrighteous man has prospered. Who makes this observation? What happens to one happens to the other. It's emptiness.

Then I commended merriment, because a man hath no better thing ( Ecclesiastes 8:15 )

And this is his human philosophy and human reasoning coming out again. Hey, it's great to be merry because a man has no better thing under the sun. And it's probably true. Under the sun, man, life is just very shallow and you live life in a very shallow level, and

under the sun the best thing to do is just to eat and drink and be merry ( Ecclesiastes 8:15 ):

Because man, that's all she wrote. That's the sum of life for you, so you might as well live it up because you're going to be burning after a while. So you know, live it up now. Life under the sun.

for that shall abide with him of his labor the days of his life, which God gives him under the sun ( Ecclesiastes 8:15 ).

Might as well enjoy what you got now, because man, it's going to be tough later.

When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:) Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it ( Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 ).

A man cannot find out the work of God though you search it out. "





Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8:11". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/ecclesiastes-8.html. 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8:11". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/ecclesiastes-8.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The limitations of Wisdom 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).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8:11". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/ecclesiastes-8.html. 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Because sentence [against] an evil work is not executed speedily,.... Any evil work done by magistrates, or others, against which the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, and is threatened with his vengeance; the decree is gone forth, the sentence is passed, God is determined upon punishment; but there is a delay of it, he exercises patience and longsuffering to answer some end of his, both towards his own people and the wicked; as well as to display some of his own perfections; but because so it is, the judgment comes not at once;

therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil; or their "heart is full to do evil" n; they have not only a fulness of sin in them naturally as is in every man's heart; but they are filled with resolution, boldness, and courage, to commit sin, promising themselves impurity from the seeming delay of justice; such an abuse do they make of the patience and forbearance of God; they become more and more hardened in sin and bent upon the commission of it.

n מלא לעשות רע "plenum ad faciendum malum", Pagninus, Montanus; "praegnano ad faciendum malum", Gussetius, p. 469.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8:11". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ecclesiastes-8.html. 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Evil of Oppressive Rulers.

      9 All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.   10 And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity.   11 Because 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 do evil a hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:   13 But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.

      Solomon, in the beginning of the chapter, had warned us against having any thing to do with seditious subjects; here, in these verses, he encourages us, in reference to the mischief of tyrannical and oppressive rulers, such as he had complained of before, Ecclesiastes 3:16; Ecclesiastes 4:1.

      1. He had observed many such rulers, Ecclesiastes 8:9; Ecclesiastes 8:9. In the serious views and reviews he had taken of the children of men and their state he had observed that many a time one man rules over another to his hurt; that is, (1.) To the hurt of the ruled (many understand it so); whereas they ought to be God's ministers unto their subjects for their good (Romans 13:14), to administer justice, and to preserve the public peace and order, they use their power for their hurt, to invade their property, encroach upon their liberty, and patronise the acts of injustice. It is sad with a people when those that should protect their religion and rights aim at the destruction of both. (2.) To the hurt of the rulers (so we render it), to their own hurt, to the feeling of their pride and covetousness, the gratifying of their passion and revenge, and so to the filling up of the measure of their sins and the hastening and aggravating of their ruin. Agens agendo repatitur--What hurt men do to others will return, in the end, to their own hurt.

      2. He had observed them to prosper and flourish in the abuse of their power (Ecclesiastes 8:10; Ecclesiastes 8:10): I saw those wicked rulers come and go from the place of the holy, go in state to and return in pomp from the place of judicature (which is called the place of the Holy One because the judgment is the Lord's,Deuteronomy 1:17, and he judges among the gods,Psalms 82:1, and is with them in the judgment,2 Chronicles 19:6), and they continued all their days in office, were never reckoned with for their mal-administration, but died in honour and were buried magnificently; their commissions were durante vitâ--during life, and not quamdiu se bene gesserint--during good behaviour. And they were forgotten in the city where they had so done; their wicked practices were not remembered against them to their reproach and infamy when they were gone. Or, rather, it denotes the vanity of their dignity and power, for that is his remark upon it in the close of the verse: This is also vanity. They are proud of their wealth, and power, and honour, because they sit in the place of the holy; but all this cannot secure, (1.) Their bodies from being buried in the dust; I saw them laid in the grave; and their pomp, though it attended them thither, could not descend after them,Psalms 49:17. (2.) Nor their names from being buried in oblivion; for they were forgotten, as if they had never been.

      3. He had observed that their prosperity hardened them in their wickedness, Ecclesiastes 8:11; Ecclesiastes 8:11. It is true of all sinners in general, and particularly of wicked rulers, that, because sentence against their evil works is not executed speedily, they think it will never be executed, and therefore they set the law at defiance and their hearts are full in them to do evil; they venture to do so much the more mischief, fetch a greater compass in their wicked designs, and are secure and fearless in it, and commit iniquity with a high hand. Observe, (1.) Sentence is passed against evil works and evil workers by the righteous Judge of heaven and earth, even against the evil works of princes and great men, as well as of inferior persons. (2.) The execution of this sentence is often delayed a great while, and the sinner goes on, not only unpunished, but prosperous and successful. (3.) Impunity hardens sinners in impiety, and the patience of God is shamefully abused by many who, instead of being led by it to repentance, are confirmed by it in their impenitence. (4.) Sinners herein deceive themselves, for, though the sentence be not executed speedily, it will be executed the more severely at last. Vengeance comes slowly, but it comes surely, and wrath is in the mean time treasured up against the day of wrath.

      4. He foresaw such an end of all these things as would be sufficient to keep us from quarrelling with the divine Providence upon account of them. He supposes a wicked ruler to do an unjust thing a hundred times, and that yet his punishment is deferred, and God's patience towards him is prolonged, much beyond what was expected, and the days of his power are lengthened out, so that he continues to oppress; yet he intimates that we should not be discouraged. (1.) God's people are certainly a happy people, though they be oppressed: "It shall be well with those that fear God, I say with all those, and those only, who fear before him." Note, [1.] It is the character of God's people that they fear God, have an awe of him upon their hearts and make conscience of their duty to him, and this because they see his eye always upon them and they know it is their concern to approve themselves to him. When they lie at the mercy of proud oppressors they fear God more then they fear them. They do not quarrel with the providence of God, but submit to it. [2.] It is the happiness of all that fear God, that in the worst of times it shall be well with them; their happiness in God's favour cannot be prejudiced, nor their communion with God interrupted, by their troubles; they are in a good case, for they are kept in a good frame under their troubles, and in the end they shall have a blessed deliverance from and an abundant recompence for their troubles. And therefore "surely I know, I know it by the promise of God, and the experience of all the saints, that, however it goes with others, it shall go well with them." All is well that ends well. (2.) Wicked people are certainly a miserable people; though they prosper, and prevail, for a time, the curse is as sure to them as the blessing is to the righteous: It shall not be well with the wicked, as others think it is, who judge by outward appearance, and as they themselves expect it will be; nay, woe to the wicked; it shall be ill with them (Isaiah 3:10; Isaiah 3:11); they shall be reckoned with for all the ill they have done; nothing that befals them shall be really well for them. Nihil potest ad malos pervenire quod prosit, imo nihil quod non noceat--No event can occur to the wicked which will do them good, rather no event which will not do them harm. Seneca. Note, [1.] The wicked man's days are as a shadow, not only uncertain and declining, as all men's days are, but altogether unprofitable. A good man's days have some substance in them; he lives to a good purpose. A wicked man's days are all as a shadow, empty and worthless. [2.] These days shall not be prolonged to what he promised himself; he shall not live out half his days,Psalms 55:23. Though they may be prolonged (Ecclesiastes 8:12; Ecclesiastes 8:12) beyond what others expected, yet his day shall come to fall. He shall fall short of everlasting life, and then his long life on earth will be worth little. [3.] God's great quarrel with wicked people is for their not fearing before him; that is at the bottom of their wickedness, and cuts them off from all happiness.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Ecclesiastes 8:11". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/ecclesiastes-8.html. 1706.