Ecclesiastes 8 commentary

ECCLESIASTES 8 COMMETARY EDITED BY GLE PEASE 1 Who is like the wise man? Who knows the explanation of things? Wisdom brightens a man's face and changes its hard appearance. BARES, "And who - Rather, and as he who knoweth. The possessor of wisdom excels other people: it imparts serenity to his countenance, and removes the expression of gloom or fierceness (see the marginal reference). CLARK, "Who knoweth the interpretation - פשרpesher, a pure Chaldee word, found nowhere else in the Bible but in the Chaldee parts of Daniel. “A man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine.” Every state of the heart shines through the countenance; but there is such an evidence of the contented, happy, pure, benevolent state of the soul in the face of a truly pious man, that it must be observed, and cannot be mistaken. In the Hebrew the former clause of this verse ends the preceding chapter. Who has ever been deceived in the appearance of the face that belonged to a savage heart? Those who represent, by painting or otherwise, a wise man, with a gravely sour face, striking awe and forbidding approach, have either mistaken the man, or are unacquainted with some essential principles of their art. The boldness of his face shall be changed - Instead of ישנאyeshunne, which signifies shall be hated, many of Kennicott’s and De Rossi’s MSS. have ישנהyeshunneh, shall be changed or doubled. Hence the verse might be read, “The wisdom of a man shall illuminate his face; and the strength of his countenance shall be doubled.” He shall speak with full confidence and conviction on a subject which he perfectly understands, and all will feel the weight of his observations. GILL, "Who is as the wise man?.... Who is as the first man, that was made upright, and was a wise man? not one of his sons. Or who is as the wise man, meaning himself? no man; he was the wisest of men; and yet he could not find out wisdom, and the reason of things, and the wickedness of folly, Ecc_7:25 ; how therefore should any other man? what can the man do that comes after the king? Or who is like to a wise man, to he compared to him for honour and dignity? none; not those of the highest birth and blood, of the greatest wealth and riches, or in the highest places of power and authority; a wise man is above them, they being without wisdom; and especially such as are wise to

Transcript of Ecclesiastes 8 commentary

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1 Who is like the wise man? Who knows the explanation of things? Wisdom brightens a man's face and changes its hard appearance.

BAR�ES, "And who - Rather, and as he who knoweth. The possessor of wisdom excels other people: it imparts serenity to his countenance, and removes the expression of gloom or fierceness (see the marginal reference).

CLARK, "Who knoweth the interpretation - ,pesher, a pure Chaldee word פשרfound nowhere else in the Bible but in the Chaldee parts of Daniel. “A man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine.” Every state of the heart shines through the countenance; but there is such an evidence of the contented, happy, pure, benevolent state of the soul in the face of a truly pious man, that it must be observed, and cannot be mistaken. In the Hebrew the former clause of this verse ends the preceding chapter. Who has ever been deceived in the appearance of the face that belonged to a savage heart? Those who represent, by painting or otherwise, a wise man, with a gravely sour face, striking awe and forbidding approach, have either mistaken the man, or are unacquainted with some essential principles of their art.

The boldness of his face shall be changed - Instead of ישנא yeshunne, which

signifies shall be hated, many of Kennicott’s and De Rossi’s MSS. have ישנה yeshunneh, shall be changed or doubled. Hence the verse might be read, “The wisdom of a man shall illuminate his face; and the strength of his countenance shall be doubled.” He shall speak with full confidence and conviction on a subject which he perfectly understands, and all will feel the weight of his observations.

GILL, "Who is as the wise man?.... Who is as the first man, that was made upright, and was a wise man? not one of his sons. Or who is as the wise man, meaning himself? no man; he was the wisest of men; and yet he could not find out wisdom, and the reason of things, and the wickedness of folly, Ecc_7:25; how therefore should any other man? what can the man do that comes after the king? Or who is like to a wise man, to he compared to him for honour and dignity? none; not those of the highest birth and blood, of the greatest wealth and riches, or in the highest places of power and authority; a wise man is above them, they being without wisdom; and especially such as are wise to

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salvation; these are the excellent in the earth, and the most worthy among men. Or who is a truly wise man? is there really such a person in the world, that has got to the perfection of wisdom? not one; and very few they are that can, in a true and proper sense, be called wise men. The Targum is,

"who is a wise man, that can stand against the wisdom of the Lord?''

and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? or "a word" (q)? the word of God, which is not of private interpretation? none know it rightly, but such who have the Spirit of God, the enditer of the word: Christ is the interpreter, one among a thousand; and, next to him are those who have his mind, and rightly divide the word of truth. The Targum is,

"and to know the interpretation of the words in the prophets:''

this may be understood of the solution of any difficulties in things natural or civil; and of the interpretation of any of the works of God, either in nature or providence, as well as of his word; and he is a wise man, that not only has wisdom in himself, but is able to teach others, and make them wise; can solve doubts, remove difficulties, interpret nature, the works and word of God. Aben Ezra repeats the note of similitude from the former clause, and so it may be rendered, "Who is as he that knows the interpretation of a thing", or "word?" such an one as Solomon was, Pro_1:6;

a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine: as Moses, when he came down from the mount, full fraught with the knowledge of the will of God, Exo_34:29; and as Stephen, whose wisdom and spirit, by which he spoke, were irresistible, Act_6:10; wisdom, which discovers itself in a man's words and actions, gives comeliness to his person, makes him look amiable and lovely in the eyes of others: or, it "enlightens his face" (r); by it he is able to see the difference between truth and falsehood, and what is to be done and not done; what way he should walk in, and what he should shun and avoid;

and the boldness of his face shall be changed; the ferocity and austerity of his countenance, the impudence and inhumanity that appeared in him before, through his wisdom and knowledge, are changed into meekness, gentleness, and humanity; of an impudent, fierce, and badly behaved man, he becomes meek, modest, affable, and humane; this effect natural wisdom and knowledge has on men (s); and much more spiritual and evangelical wisdom, which comes from above, and is first pure, then peaceable and gentle, Jam_3:17. Some read it, "the strength of his face shall be doubled", or "renewed" (t); he shall be changed into the same image, from glory to glory; his spiritual strength shall be renewed, and his light and knowledge increase yet more and more, 2Co_3:18. But Gussetius (u) renders it, his "boldness", or impudence, "shall be hated".

HE�RY, "Here is, I. An encomium of wisdom (Ecc_8:1), that is, of true piety, guided in all its exercises by prudence and discretion. The wise man is the good man, that knows God and glorifies him, knows himself and does well for himself; his wisdom is a great happiness to him, for, 1. It advances him above his neighbours, and makes him more excellent than they: Who is as the wise man? Note, Heavenly wisdom will make a man an incomparable man. No man without grace, though he be learned, or noble, or rich, is to be compared with a man that has true grace and is therefore accepted of God. 2. It

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makes him useful among his neighbours and very serviceable to them: Who but the wise man knows the interpretation of a thing, that is, understands the times and the events of them, and their critical junctures, so as to direct what Israel ought to do, 1Ch_12:32. 3. It beautifies a man in the eyes of his friends: It makes his face to shine, as Moses's did when he came down from the mount; it puts honour upon a man and a lustre on his whole conversation, makes him to be regarded and taken notice of, and gains him respect (as Job_29:7, etc.); it makes him lovely and amiable, and the darling and blessing of his country. The strength of his face, the sourness and severity of his countenance (so some understand the last clause), shall be changed by it into that which is sweet and obliging. Even those whose natural temper is rough and morose by wisdomare strangely altered; they become mild and gentle, and learn to look pleasant. 4. It emboldens a man against his adversaries, their attempts and their scorn: The boldness of his face shall be doubled by wisdom; it will add very much to his courage in maintaining his integrity when he not only has an honest cause to plead, but by his wisdom knows how to manage it and where to find the interpretation of a thing. He shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with his enemy in the gate.

JAMISO�, "Praise of true wisdom continued (Ecc_7:11, etc.). “Who” is to be accounted “equal to the wise man? ... Who (like him) knoweth the interpretation” of God’s providences (for example, Ecc_7:8, Ecc_7:13, Ecc_7:14), and God’s word (for example, see on Ecc_7:29; Pro_1:6)?

face to shine— (Ecc_7:14; Act_6:15). A sunny countenance, the reflection of a tranquil conscience and serene mind. Communion with God gives it (Exo_34:29, Exo_34:30).

boldness— austerity.

changed— into a benign expression by true wisdom (religion) (Jam_3:17). Maurer translates, “The shining (brightness) of his face is doubled,” arguing that the Hebrewnoun for “boldness” is never used in a bad sense (Pro_4:18). Or as Margin, “strength” (Ecc_7:19; Isa_40:31; 2Co_3:18). But the adjective is used in a bad sense (Deu_28:50).


‘Wisdom maketh his face to shine.’


‘A man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness or coarseness of his face shall be changed.’

I. In ancient days it was �OTED that piety has an effect on the countenance.—It brings refinement. It is a remarkable fact that wherever the Bible is read, wherever the Gospel is preached, those who come under its influence find the coarseness of their faces changed. They are raised in thought and feeling to a higher sphere, and that has an effect on their countenances. It is a grand thing to see the effect of conversion on a dull-faced, heavy-eyed, bloated-visaged public-house sot. It is as though a veil were lifted. There comes a new light in the eye, a new expression on

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the countenance, that leads others to take knowledge of him that he has been with Jesus. When, by Divine grace, the humblest soul gains the true wisdom, and visits the mount of communion with God, the great Father of lights maketh his face to shine, and the coarseness of his visage is changed.

II. So remarkable is this, that the inquiry has been made whether after all, the shining of the face of Moses after communion with God was merely miraculous, but rather the true effect of close intercourse with the God of light; and whether the angelic expression of Stephen was not also the true effect of his elevated spirit. Perhaps so. This we know, that there are to-day holy souls who sometimes carry on their countenances a light of their having been ‘within the veil,’ very near in communion with their Lord.

YOU�G, "Solomon seems to speak of the man who is truly wise —

pious. This appears from what follows. He knows the

interpretation of a thing — of a word or treatise — of the

Scriptures, (perhaps.) "But the natural man receiveth

not the things of the Spirit of God : for they are foolish-

ness to him : neither can he know them, because they are

.spiritually discerned." The wise man knoweth of the

doctrine, because he doeth the will of God. The babe in

human knowledge, who drinks in the spirit of God's word,

often has more correct views than " the wise and prudent"

from whom the meaning is hidden.

" A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the

boldness of his face shall be changed." Moses' face

shone miraculously, when he communed with God. Ste-

phen's face was hke that of an angel. When God's chil-

dren commune with him, their very countenances betray

it. And pious men lose the traces of dissipation, anger,

hatred, and shame, which formerly appeared on their faces.

The Lord beautifies the meek with salvation. Ps. cxlix. 4.

Hope beams in the eye ; — benevolence lights up the face

with smiles. Bridges says of godliness, " If it be too

humble to court the eye, it is too active to escape it."

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By the " boldness of his face," we are to understand

fierceness, as it is in the original. There is certainly a

great and marked difference between the fierce counte-

nance of a savage, and the benevolent face of a Christian.

Religion mollifies the whole man. The Berleburger

Bible, as quoted by Hengstenberg, says, " When, through

the transforming power of wisdom, a heart of flesh has

taken the place of the heart of stone, the inward pliancy

and docility, the soul's fear of God and his commands,

which then follow, become discernible in the countenance.''^

PULPIT, "Who is as the wise man? i.e. Who is like, equal to, the wise man? The somewhat sudden question occurs naturally after the results of the search for wisdom mentioned at the end of the last chapter. The thought is not, as in Hos_14:9 and Jer_9:12, "Who is wise?" but—�o one Call be compared with a wise man; he has no compeer. And who [like him] knoweth the interpretation of a thing? Who, so well as the wise man, understands the proper relation of circumstances, sees into human affairs and God's dispensations in the case of nations and individuals? Such a one takes the right view of life. The word pesher, "interpretation," occurs (peshar) CO�TI�UALLYin Daniel, and nowhere else and is Chaldaic. The Vulgate, which connects these two clauses with Ecc_7:1-29; renders, Quis cognovit solutionem verbi? So the Septuagint. The "word" or "saying" may be the question proposed above Concerning the happy life, or the proverb that immediately follows. But dabar is better rendered "thing," as Ecc_1:8; Ecc_7:8. A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine; Septuagint, φωτιεῖ , "will enlighten, illuminate." The serene light within makes itself visible in the outward expression; the man is contented arid cheerful, and shows this in his look and bearing. This is an additional praise of wisdom. Thus Ecclesiasticus 13:25, 26, "The heart of man changeth his countenance, whether it be for good or evil. A cheerful countenance is a token of a heart that is in prosperity." Cicero, 'De Orat.,' 3:57, "Omnes enim motus animi suum quemdam a natura habet vultum et sonum et gestum; corpusque totum homiuis et ejus omnis vultus omnesque voces, ut nervi in fidibus, ita sonant, ut motu animi quoque sunt pulsae." And the boldness of his face shall be changed. The word translated "boldness" is òÉæ , which means properly "strength," and is best taken of the coarseness and impudence engendered by ignorance and want of culture. Wisdom, when it fills the heart, changes the countenance to an open genial look, which wins confidence and love. Delitzsch refers to the well-worn lines of Ovid, 'Epist.,' 2.9. 47—

"Adde, quod ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes

Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros."

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The Septuagint, "And a man shameless in countenance will be hated," shows an alteration in the text, and does not agree with the context. Vulgate, Et potentissimus faciem illius commutabit, "And the Almighty will change his face," where again the text is not accurately followed.

PULPIT, "A wise man's superiority-in what does it consist?

I. I� PE�ETRATIO� OF I�TELLECT. He knoweth not merely things, but the interpretation thereof. Among the Chaldeans the interpretation of dreams was a special branch of wisdom professed by magicians and astrologers (Dan_2:4-13). A wise man—using the term in its widest sense—has clearer insight than ordinary mortals into the essences of things. To him pertains the faculty of searching into and discovering the causes of events. In particular he has insight into:

1. The secrets of nature. He is qualified to understand and explain phenomena which to ordinary minds are mysterious and inscrutable.

2. The events of history. He is able frequently to trace the under-currents moving society, and bringing about occurrences which to common minds are inexplicable.

3. The wonders of revelation. He can discover in sacred Scripture truths veiled to unenlightened eyes.

4. The mysteries of grace. Possessed of an unction from the Holy One, he can understand all things (1Jn_2:20, 1Jn_2:27).

II. I� ELEVATIO� OF CHARACTER. "A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine." "It scarcely needs a proof that the countenance or front of the head is regarded in Scripture as the mirror of Divine influences upon the man—of all affections, and of the entire life of soul and spirit." "In the physiognomy is reflected the moral condition of the man". "Many a poet, and seer, and martyr, and reformer, and woman of the finest fiber has at times had a face that has looked like porcelain with a light behind it". The wise man's face shines because of three things:

1. The light of truth in his understanding. The wise man is essentially a child of light. A luminous intellect makes a radiant countenance.

2. The light of purity in his heart. There are faces which glow and beam with a soft silver sheen, as it' they had shed off all that was gross and material, animal and brutish, and were spiritualized into a fine ethereal essence; because they reflect upon their surface the pure, sweet, chaste, and holy emotions that stir the clear depths of their bosoms within.

3. The light of life in his conscience. In the wise man the moral faculty is not dead, torpid, dull, and besotted; but alive, bright, sensitive, and vigorous; and WHAT COOK calls the solar look in a face "arises from the activity of the higher nature when conscience is supreme".

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III. I� REFI�EME�T OF MA��ERS. "The hardness," or strength, "of a wise man's face is changed." "The coarse ferocity of ignorance" is in him "transformed by culture" (Plumptre). What Ovid says of human learning—it.

"Makes manners gentle, rescues men from strife"—

is true of heavenly wisdom, which is "first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated," etc. (Jas_3:17). "Wisdom gives to a man bright eyes, a gentle countenance, a noble expression; it refines and dignifies his external appearance and his demeanor; the hitherto rude external, and the rude regardless, selfish, and bold deportment, are changed into their contraries" (Delitzsch). The change may be:

1. Gradual, as all moral transformations are SLOW, "from stage to stage," "first the blade and then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear;" but it must be:

2. Actual, otherwise there is no reason to suppose the individual has become possessed of wisdom; and it will eventually be:

3. Visible to all, so that all beholding him shall recognize in him the gentleness of one who has studied in wisdom's school. Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col_2:3), was the highest impersonation the world ever witnessed of true gentleness and refinement.

COFFMAN 1-5, "OBEDIENCE AN ESSENTIAL PART OF WISDOMEcclesiastes 8:1-5, by Cook in Barnes' NOTES on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, a 1989 reprint of the 1878 edition), Ecclesiastes, p. 104.">[1]

Ecclesiastes 8:1-5

"Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the hardness of his face is changed. I counsel thee, Keep the king's command, and that in regard of the oath of God. Be not hasty to go out of his presence; persist not in an evil thing: for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him. For the king's word hath power; and who may say unto him, What doest thou? Whoso keepeth the commandment shall know no evil thing; and a wise man's heart discerneth time and judgment."

A comparison of translations will reveal some uncertainties about what is actually said here. Cook's opinion that obedience to the king is the subject appears to be correct; and we know that this would be exactly what a king like Solomon would advise. As a matter of fact, respect for all legitimate authority is the foundation of all law, civilization and social order. It begins with respect for the authority of parents and teachers and CONTINUES as mandatory for all authority, as Paul himself pointed out in Romans 13. Waddey AGREED that, "The first five verses here admonish us to be submissive to governmental authority."[2]

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"A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine" (Ecclesiastes 8:1). "The claim here is that wisdom gives insight and charm."[3] "A man's wisdom illumines him and causes his stern face to shine,"[4] It is not exactly clear why this has anything to do with the paragraph. Cox's comment was that, "Culture lends an air of refinement to the face, and that it improves the carriage, demeanor and personality of the possessor."[5] Delitzsch said, "This verse announces and verifies the incomparable superiority of the wise man."[6]

"Keep the king's command ... in regard to the oath of God." (Ecclesiastes 8:2). "This is a religious duty, corresponding to Romans 13:5."[7]

"Be not hasty to go out of his presence" (Ecclesiastes 8:3). This might mean a number of things: "(1) do not desert the king in time of danger; (2) do not resign YOUR office in haste when things go wrong; (3) don't storm out of his presence in anger when you are not pleased; or, (4) don't seek to flee the country as a defector."[8] The student may take his choice!

"For he doeth whatever pleaseth him" (Ecclesiastes 8:3). Delitzsch TRANSLATED this: "The king executes anyone he pleases to execute."[9]

"Whoso keepeth the commandment shall know no evil thing" (Ecclesiastes 8:5). This should be understood in the light of many other Old Testament passages which place definite boundaries upon the obedience that any servant of God should give to the evil commandments of earthly rulers. The three Hebrew children refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar's golden image, and Daniel CONTINUED to pray to Almighty God, in spite of the specific orders of the mightiest king of antiquity that forbade their actions. The strong suggestion in these verses to the effect that a `wise man' might, through expediency, conform his views to that of some evil ruler cannot negate the truth. "If a man is really wise, he will know that the king's action or commandment is liable to correction, if it is wrong, in God's time and by God's judgment."

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR, "A man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

The human face

In all the works of God there is nothing more wonderful than the human countenance. The face is ordinarily the index of character. It is the throne of the emotions, the battlefield of the passions. It is the catalogue of character, the map of the mind, the geography of the soul. Whether we will or not, physiognomy decides a thousand things in commercial, and financial, and social, and religious domains. From one lid of the Bible to the other there is no science so recognized as that of physiognomy, and nothing more thoroughly taken for granted than the power of the soul to transfigure the face. The Bible speaks of the “face of God,” the “face of Jesus Christ,” the “face of Esau,” the “face of Israel,” the “face of Job,” the “face of the old man,” the shining “face of Moses,” the wrathful “face of Pharaoh,” the ashes on the face of humiliation, the resurrectionary staff on the face of the dead child, the hypocrites disfiguring their face, and in my text the Bible declares, “A man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine and the sourness of his face

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shall be sweetened.” And now I am going to tell you of some of the chisels that work for the disfiguration or irradiation of the human countenance. One of the sharpest and most destructive of those chisels of the countenance is—

I. Cynicism. That sours the disposition and then sours the face. It gives a contemptuous curl to the lip. It draws down the corners of the mouth and inflates the nostril as with a mal-odour. It is the chastisement of God that when a man allows his heart to be cursed with cynicism his face becomes gloomed, and scowled, and lachrymosod, and blasted with the same midnight.

II. But let Christian cheerfulness try its chisel upon a man’s countenance. Feeling that all things are for his good, and that God rules, and that the Bible being true the world’s floralization is rapidly approaching, and the day when distillery, and bomb-shell, and rifle-pit, and seventy-four pounders, and roulette-tables, and corrupt book, and satanic printing press will have quit work, the brightness that comes from such anticipation not only gives zest to his work, but shines in his eyes and glows in his cheek, and kindles a morning in his entire countenance. The grace of God comes to the heart of a man or woman and then attempts to change a forbidding and prejudicial face into attractiveness. Perhaps the face is most unpromising for the Divine Sculptor. But having changed the heart it begins to work on the countenance with celestial chisel, and into all the lineaments of the face puts a gladness and an expectation that changes it from glory to glory, and though earthly criticism may disapprove of this or that in the appearance of the face, Christ says of the newly-created countenance that which Pilate said of Him, “Behold the man!”

III. Here is another mighty chisel for the countenance, and you may call it revenge, or hate, or malevolence. This spirit having taken possession of the heart it encamps seven devils under the eyebrows. It puts cruelty into the compression of the lips. You can tell from the man’s looks that he is pursuing some one and trying to get even with him. There are suggestions of Nero, and Robespierre, and Diocletian, and thumbscrews, and racks all up and down the features. Infernal artists with murderers’ daggers have been cutting away at that visage. The revengeful heart has built its perdition in the revengeful countenance. Disfiguration of diabolic passion!

IV. But here comes another chisel to shape the countenance, and it is kindness. There came a moving day, and into her soul moved the whole family of Christian graces, with all the children and grandchildren, and the command has come forth from the heavens that that woman’s face shall be made to correspond with her superb soul. Her entire face from ear to ear becomes the canvas on which all the best artists of heaven begin to put their finest strokes, and on the small compass of that face are put pictures of sunrise over the sea, and angels of mercy going up and down ladders all a-flash, and mountains of transfiguration and noon-day in heaven. Kindness! It is the most magnificent sculptor that over touched human countenance. It makes the face to shine while life lasts, and after death puts a summer sunset between the still lips and the smoothed hair that makes me say sometimes at obsequies, “She seems too beautiful to bury.”

V. But here comes another chisel, and its name is hypocrisy. Christ with one terrific stroke in his Sermon on the Mount described this character: “When ye fast be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance; for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast.” Hypocrisy having taken possession of the soul it immediately appears in the countenance. Hypocrites are always solemn. They carry several country graveyards in their faces. They are tearful when there is nothing to cry about. A man cannot have hypocrisy in his heart without somehow showing it in his face. All intelligent people who

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witness it know it is nothing but a dramatization.

VII. Here comes another chisel, and that belongs to the old-fashioned religion. It first takes possession of the whole soul, washing out its sins by the blood of the Lamb and starting heaven right there and then. This is done deep down in the heart. Religion says, “Now let me go up to the windows and front gate of the face and set up some signal that I have taken possession of this castle. I will celebrate the victory by an illumination that no one can mistake. I have made this man happy, and now I will make him look happy. I will draw the corners of his mouth as far up as they were drawn down. I will take the contemptuous curl away from the lip and nostril. I will make his eyes flash and his cheeks glow at every mention of Christ and heaven. I will make even the wrinkles of his face lock like furrows ploughed for the harvests of joy. I will make what we call the ‘crow’s feet’ around his temples suggestive that the dove of peace has been alighting there.” There may be signs of trouble on that face, but trouble sanctified. There may be scars of battle on that face, but they will be scars of campaigns won. (T. De Witt Talmage.)

Gospel of the shining face

(with Mat_17:2):—Note the variation of the Douay version: “The wisdom of a man shineth in his countenance.” We would have been glad to stand with the disciples on the mountain to see Jesus when His face shone.

I. What is the final secret of a radiant face like that of Jesus?

1. “A man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine.” The genuine radiance of wisdom is not an outside application. Outward polish desirable, but not to be substituted for inward character.

2. There is a human wisdom in man that comes up through nature that seems to have some radiating quality. The reign of life begins with the creature fiat on his face. Ascending orders are, on the whole, increasingly erected, until man comes, the only creature with wisdom to turn his face upward. He is the “being with the upturned face.”

3. But the light of nature in man was not that which shone in the transfigured face of Jesus. This light does not come up through nature, but down from God. Entering man, it changes the qualities of the nature light. It is only when it streams out again that we also get transfiguration experiences. This light in us is the “wisdom” that makes the face shine.

II. How may we have and show this shining face?

1. Companying with Christ. The true disciple’s face will always reflect the Master’s light.

2. Busy interest in a great aim pursued for Jesus’ sake. In cheerful work the face will shine.

3. Faith in the coming triumph of the kingdom.

4. The immortal hope. Upon the disciple’s face the light is always that of the eternal city. Dying saints in pain comfort us with shining faces when we go hoping to comfort them. “Let your light shine.” (Homiletic Review.)

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HAWKER, "The Preacher is still following up his favourite discourse of the vanity of human life, through this chapter. Under various images he showeth the disappointments of men, by ways of directing the heart to wisdom.


Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

The question with which this Chapter opens, cannot fail, I should think, to bring to the gracious Reader’s recollection, Him who is indeed Wisdom itself, and in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Precious Jesus! thy face did shine with a lustre infinitely surpassing that of Moses, when in the mount of transfiguration, and before Pilate thou didst witness a good confession. And who shall say what glory beamed from thy countenance, when those who came to apprehend thee, in the garden, fell backward on the ground before thee? Oh! Lord! grant me, like thy disciples, amidst all the darkness concerning thee around, to behold thy glory, which thou dost manifest in grace, that I may be of the happy number that believe in thee to the saving of the soul; Exo_34:29; Mat_17:2; 1Ti_6:13; Joh_18:5-6; Joh_2:11.

EBC, "And to be in different, to Public Wrongs: Ecc_8:1-13

The fourth and last rule inferred from this prudent moderate view of life is, That we are to submit with hopeful resignation to the wrongs which spring from human tyranny and injustice. Unclouded by gusts of passion, the wise temperate Oriental carries a "bright countenance" to the king’s divan. Though the king should rate him with "evil words," he will remember his "oath of fealty," and not rise up in resentment, still less rush out in open revolt. He knows that the word of a king is potent; that it will be of no use to show a hot mutinous temper; that by a meek endurance of wrath he may allay or avert it. He knows, too that obedience and submission are not likely to provoke insult and contumely; and that if now and then he is exposed to an undeserved insult, any defence, and especially an angry defence, will but damage his cause. (Ecc_8:1-5) Moreover, a man who keeps himself cool and will not permit anger to blind him may, in the worst event, foresee that a time of retribution will surely come on the king, or the satrap, who is habitually unjust; that the people will revolt from him and exact heavy penalties for the wrongs they have endured: that death, "that fell arrest without all bail," will carry him away. He can see that time of retribution drawing nigh, although the tyrant, fooled by impunity, is not aware of its approach; he can also see that when it comes it will be as a war in which no furlough is granted, and whose disastrous close no craft can evade. All this execution of long-delayed justice he has seen again and again; and therefore he will not suffer his resentment to hurry him into dangerous courses, but will calmly await the action of those social laws which compel every man to reap the due reward of his deeds (Ecc_8:5-9).

Nevertheless he has also seen times in which retribution did not overtake oppressors; times even when, in the person of children as wicked and tyrannical as themselves, they "came again" to renew their injustice, and to blot out the memory of the righteous from the earth (Ecc_8:10). And such times have no more disastrous result than this, that they undermine faith and subvert morality. Men see that no immediate sentence is pronounced against the Wicked, that they live long in their wickedness and beget

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children to perpetuate it; and the faith of the good in the overruling providence of God is shaken and strained, while the vast majority of men set themselves to do the evil which flaunts its triumphs before their eyes (Ecc_8:11). None the less the Preacher is quite sure that it is the part of wisdom to trust in the laws and look for the judgments of God: he is quite sure that the triumph of the wicked will soon pass, while that of the good will endure (Ecc_8:12-13); and therefore, as a man of prudent and forecasting spirit, he will submit to injustice, but not inflict it, or at least not carry it to any dangerous excess.

The Method of the Man who seeks a Competence: Ecc_8:1-14

Suppose a young man to start in life with this theory, this plan, this aim, distinctly before him:-he is to be ruled by prudence and plain common sense: he will try to stand well with the world, and to make a moderate provision for future wants. This aim will beget a certain temperance of thought and action. He will permit himself no extravagances-no wandering out of bounds, and perhaps no enthusiasms, for he wants to establish "a good name," a good reputation, which shall go before him like "a sweet perfume" and dispose men’s hearts toward him. And, therefore, he carries a sober face, frequents the company of older, wiser men, is grateful for any hints their experience may furnish, and takes even their "reproof" with a good grace. He walks in the beaten paths, knowing the world to be impatient of novelties. The wanton mirth and crackling laughter of fools in the house of feasting are not for him. He is not to be seduced from the plain prudent course which he has marked out for himself, whether by inward provocation or outward allurements. If he is a young lawyer, he will write no poetry, attorneys holding literary men in suspicion. If he is a young doctor, homeopathy, hydropathy, and all newfangled schemes of medicine will disclose their charms to him in vain. If he is a young clergyman, he will be conspicuous for his orthodoxy, and for his emphatic assent to all that the leaders of opinion in the Church think or may think. If he is a young manufacturer or merchant, he will be no breeder of costly patents and inventions, but will be among the first to profit by them whenever they are found to pay. Whatever he may be, he will not be of those who try to make crooked things straight and rough places plain. He wants to get on; and the best way to get on is to keep the beaten path and push forward in that. And he will be patient-not throwing up the game because for a time the chances go against him, but waiting till the times mend and his chances improve. So far as he can, he will keep the middle of the stream that, when the tide which leads on to fortune sets in, he may be of the first to take it at the flood and sail easily on to his desired haven.

In all this there may be no conscious insincerity, and not much perhaps that calls for censure. For all young men are not wise with the highest wisdom, nor original, nor brave with the courage which follows Truth in scorn of consequence. And our young man may not be dowered with the love of loves, the hate of hates, the scorn of scorns. He may be of a nature essentially prudent and commonplace, or training and habit may have superinduced a second nature. To him a primrose may be a primrose and nothing more; his instinctive thought, as he looks at it, may be how he can reproduce its colour in some of his textures or extract a saleable perfume from its nectared cup. He may even think that primroses are a mistake, and that ‘tis pity they were not pot herbs; or he may assume that he shall have plenty of time to gather primroses by and by, but that for the present he must be content to pick pot herbs for the market. In his way, he may even be a religious man; he may admit that both prosperity and adversity are of God, that we must take patiently whatever He may send; and he may heartily desire to be on good terms with Him who alone "can order all things as He please."

And to be indifferent to Public Wrongs: Ecc_8:1-13

The world, we may be sure, thinks none the worse of him for that. Once more he has

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proved himself a man whose eye is steadfastly bent on "the main chance," and who knows how to seize occasions as they rise. But he, who has thus profaned the inner sanctuary of his own soul, is not likely to be sensitive to the large claims of public duty. If he sees oppression, if the tyranny of a man or a class mounts to a height which calls for rebuke and opposition, he is not likely to sacrifice comfort and risk either property or popularity that he may assail iniquity in her strong places. It is not such men as he who, when the times are out of joint, feel that they are born to set them right. Prudence is still his guide, and Prudence says, "Let things alone; they will right themselves in time. The social laws will avenge themselves on the head of the oppressor, and deliver the oppressed. You can do little to hasten their action. Why, to gain so little, should you risk so much?" And the man is content to sit still with folded hands when every hand that can strike a blow for right is wanted in the strife, and can even quote texts of Scripture to prove that in "quietness, and confidence" in the action of Divine Laws, is the true strength.

The Preacher condemns this Theory of Human Life, and declares the Quest to be still unattained: Ecc_8:14-15

This is by no means a noble or lofty view of human life; the line of conduct it prescribes is often as immoral as it is ignoble; and we may feel some natural surprise at hearing counsels so base from the lips of the inspired Hebrew Preacher. But we ought to know him, and his method of instruction, well enough by this time to be sure that he is at least as sensible of their baseness as we can be; that he is here speaking to us, not in his own person, but dramatically, and from the lips of the man who, that he may secure a good name and an easy position in the world, is disposed to accommodate himself to the current maxims of his time and company. If we ever had any doubt on this point, it is set at rest by the closing verses of the Section before us. For in these verses the Preacher lowers his mask, and tells us plainly that we cannot and must not attempt to rest in the theory he has just put before us, that to follow out its practical corollaries will lead us away from the Chief Good, not toward it. More than once he has already hinted to us that this "wisdom" is not the highest wisdom: and now he frankly avows that he is as unsatisfied as ever, as far as ever from ending his Quest; that his last key will not unlock those mysteries of life which have baffled him from the first. He still holds, indeed, that it is better to be righteous than to be wicked, though he now sees that even the prudently righteous often have a wage like that of the wicked, and that the prudently wicked often have a wage like that of the righteous (Ecc_8:14). This new theory of life, therefore, he confesses to be "a vanity" as great and deceptive as any of those he has hitherto tried. And as even yet it does not suit him to give us his true theory and announce his final conclusion, he falls back on the conclusion we have so often heard, that the best thing a man can do is to eat and to drink, and to carry a clear enjoying temper through all the days, and all the tasks, which God giveth him under the sun (Ecc_8:15). How this familiar conclusion fits into his final conclusion, and is part of it, though not the whole, we shall see in our study of the next and last section of the Book.

If, as Milton sings,

"To know That which before us lies in daily life is the prime wisdom,"

we are surely much indebted to the Hebrew Preacher. He does not "sit on a hill apart" discussing fate, freewill, foreknowledge absolute, or any lofty abstruse theme. He walks with us, in the common round, to the daily task, and talks to us of that which lies before and around us in our daily life. Nor does he speak as one raised high above the folly and weakness by which we are constantly betrayed. He has trodden the very paths we tread. He shares our craving and has pursued our quest after "that which is good." He has been

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misled by the illusions by which we are beguiled. And his aim is to save us from fruitless researches and defeated hopes by placing his experience at our command. He speaks, therefore, to our real need, and speaks with a cordial sympathy which renders his counsel very welcome.

We are so made that we can find no rest until we find a supreme Good, a Good which will satisfy all our faculties, passions, aspirations. For this we search with ardour; but our ardour is not always under law to wisdom. We often assume that we have reached our chief Good while it is still far off, or that we are at least looking for it in the right direction when in truth we have turned our back upon it. Sometimes we seek for it in the pursuit of knowledge, sometimes in pleasure and self-indulgence, sometimes in fervent devotion to secular affairs; sometimes in love, sometimes in wealth, and sometimes in a modest yet competent provision for our future wants. And if, when we have acquired the special good we seek, we find that our hearts are still craving and restless, still hungering for a larger good, we are apt to think that if we had a little more of that which so far has disappointed us; if we were somewhat wiser, or if our pleasures were more varied; if we had a little more love or a larger estate, all would be well with us, and we should be at peace. Perhaps in time we get our "little more," but still our hearts do not cry, "Hold, enough!"-enough being always a little more than we have; till at last, weary and disappointed in our quest, we begin to despair of ourselves and to distrust the goodness of God. "If God be good," we ask, "why has He made us thus-always seeking yet never finding, urged on by imperious appetites which are never satisfied, impelled by hopes which forever elude our grasp?" And because we cannot answer the question, we cry out, "Vanity of vanities! all is vanity and vexation of spirit!"

"Ah, no," replies the kindly Preacher who has himself known this despairing mood and surmounted it; "no, all is not vanity. There is a chief Good, a satisfying Good, although you have not found it yet; and you have not found it because you have not looked for it where alone it can be found. Once take the right path, follow the right clue, and you will find a Good which will make all else good to you, a Good which will lend a new sweetness to your wisdom and your mirth, your labour and your gain." But men are very slow to believe that they have wasted their time and strength, that they have wholly mistaken their path; they are reluctant to believe that a little more of that of which they have already acquired so much, and which they have always held to be best, will not yield them the satisfaction they seek. And therefore the wise Preacher, instead of telling us at once where the true Good is to be found, takes much pains to convince us that it is not to be found where we have been wont to seek it. He places before us a man of the largest wisdom, whose pleasures were exquisitely varied and combined, a man whose devotion to affairs was the most perfect and successful, a man of imperial nature and wealth, and whose heart had glowed with all the fervours of love: and this man-himself under a thin disguise-so rarely gifted and of such ample conditions, confesses that he could not find the Chief Good in any one of the directions in which we commonly seek it, although he had travelled farther in every direction than we can hope to go. If we are of a rational temper, if we are open to argument and persuasion, if we are not resolved to buy our own experience at a heavy, perhaps a ruinous, cost, how can we but accept the wise Hebrew’s counsel, and cease to look for the satisfying Good in quarters in which he assures us it is not to be found?

We have already considered his argument as it bore on the men of his own time; we have now to make its application to our own age. As his custom is, the Preacher does not develop his argument in open logical sequence; he does not write a moral essay, but paints us a dramatic picture.

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K&D, "“Who is like the wise? and who understandeth the interpretation of things? The wisdom of a man maketh his face bright, and the rudeness of his face is changed.” Unlike this saying: “Who is like the wise?” are the formulas חכם מי, Hosea 14:9, Jeremiah 11:11, Psalm 107:43, which are compared by Hitzig and others. “Who is like the wise?” means: Who is equal to him? and this question, after the scheme מי־כמכה, Exodus 15:11, presents him as one who has not his like among men. Instead of 4ה the word Ecclesiastes 2:16, etc. The syncope is, as at Ezekiel ,לחכם might be used, after 4חכם40:25, omitted, which frequently occurs, particularly in the more modern books, Ezekiel 47:22; 2 Chronicles 10:7; 2 Chronicles 25:10; 2 Chronicles 29:27; Nehemiah 9:19; Nehemiah 12:38. The regular giving of Dagesh to כ after מי, with Jethib, not Mahpach, is as at Ecclesiastes 8:7 after 4י; Jethib is a disjunctive. The second question is not 4יודע, but מיD יודע, and thus does not mean: who is like the man of understanding, but: who understands, viz., as the wise man does; thus it characterizes the incomparably excellent as such. Many interpreters (Oetinger, Ewald, Hitz., Heiligst., Burg., Elst., Zöckl.) persuade themselves that רLM ברO is meant of the understanding of the proverb, 8b. The absence of the art., says Hitzig, does not mislead us: of a proverb, viz., the following; but in this manner determinate ideas may be made from all indeterminate ones. Rightly, Gesenius: explicationem ullius rei; better, as at Ecclesiastes 7:8: cujusvis rei. Ginsburg compares ברO 1, נבון Samuel 16:18, which, however, does not mean him who has the knowledge of things, but who is well acquainted with words. It is true that here also the chief idea רLM first leads to the meaning verbum ACCORDING to which the lxx, Jer., the Targ., and Syr. translate; the Venet.: ἑρµηνείαν λόγου ); but since the unfolding or explaining ((pēshěr)) refers to the actual contents of the thing spoken, verbi and rei coincide. The wise man knows how to explain difficult things, to unfold mysterious things; in short, he understands how to go to the foundation of things.

What now follows, Ecclesiastes 8:1 , might be introduced by the CONFIRMING כי, but after the manner of synonymous parallelism it places itself in the same rank with 1a, since, that the wise man stands so high, and no one like him looks through the centre of things, is repeated in another form: “Wisdom maketh his face bright” is thus to be understood after Psalm 119:130 and Psalm 19:9, wisdom draws the veil from his countenance, and makes it clear; for wisdom is related to folly as light is to darkness, Ecclesiastes 2:13. The contrast, Lי gעזו (“and the rudeness of his face is changed”), shows, however, that not merely the brightening of the countenance, but in general that intellectual and ethical transfiguration of the countenance is meant, in which at once, even though it should not in itself be beautiful, we discover the EDUCATED man rising above the common rank. To translate, with Ewald: and the brightness of his countenance is doubled, is untenable; even supposing that אkLי can mean, like the Arab. (yuthattay), duplicatur, still עז, in the meaning of brightness, is in itself, and especially with ניוM, impossible, along with which it is, without doubt, to be understood after (az panim), Deuteronomy 28:50; Daniel 8:23, and (hē'ēz panim), Proverbs 7:13, or (bephanim), Proverbs 21:29, so that thus פנים עז has the same meaning as the post-bibl. stiffness, hardness, rudeness of countenance = boldness, want of ,פנים עDpתbashfulness, regardlessness, e.g., Shabbath 30b, where we find a prayer in these words: O keep me this day from פנים עזי and from עזות פ (that I may not incur the former or the latter). The Talm. Taanith 7b, thus explaining, says: “Every man to whom עזות פbelongs, him one may hate, as the scripture says, נא◌tי gועז (do not read אkLי).” The lxx translates µισητηήσεται will be hated, and thus also the Syr.; both have thus read as the Talm. has done, which, however, bears witness in favour of אkLי as the traditional reading. It is not at all necessary, with Hitzig, after Zirkel, to read y|shane': but boldness disfigureth his countenance; עז in itself alone, in the meaning of boldness, would, it is

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true, along with פניו as the obj. of the verb, be tenable; but the change is unnecessary, the passive affords a perfectly intelligible meaning: the boldness, or rudeness, of his visage is changed, viz., by wisdom (Böttch., Ginsb., Zöckl.). The verb נהL)שנא , Lamentations 4:1) means, Malachi 3:6, merely “to change, to become different;” the Pih. kL ,2א ,kL, Jeremiah 52:33ה Kings 25:29, denotes in these two passages a change in melius, and the proverb of the Greek, Sir. 13:24, -

Καρδία ἀντηρώπου ἀλλοιοῖ τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ

ἐάν τε εἰς ἀγαθὰ ἐάν τε εἰς κακά ,

is preserved to us in its original form thus:

לב אדם יkLא פניו

�ין לטוב Dבין לרע׃

so that thus אkL, in the sense of being changed as to the sternness of the expression of the countenance, is as good as established. What Ovid says of science: emollit mores nec sinit esse feros, thus tolerably falls in with what is here said of wisdom: Wisdom gives bright eyes to a man, a gentle countenance, a noble expression; it refines and dignifies his external appearance and his demeanour; the hitherto rude external, and the regardless, selfish, and bold deportment, are changed into their contraries. If, now, Ecclesiastes 8:1 is not to be regarded as an independent proverb, it will bear somewhat the relation of a prologue to what follows. Luther and others regard Ecclesiastes 8:1 as of the nature of an epilogue to what goes before; parallels, such as Hosea 14:9, make that appear probable; but it cannot be yielded, because the words are not חכם מי, but מי But that which follows easily subordinates itself to Ecclesiastes 8:1, in as far as .כהחfidelity to duty and thoughtfulness amid critical social relations are proofs of that wisdom which sets a man FREE from impetuous rudeness, and fits him intelligently and with a clear mind to accommodate himself to the time.

2 Obey the king's command, I say, because you took an oath before God.

BAR�ES, "Oath - A reference to the oath of allegiance taken to Solomon at his accession to the throne (the margin of 1Ch_29:24).

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CLARK, "To keep the king’s commandment - This sentence would be better translated, I keep the mouth of the king; I take good heed not to meddle with state secrets; and if I know, to hide them. Or, I am obedient to the commands of the laws; I feel myself bound by whatever the king has decreed.

In regard of the oath of God - You have sworn obedience to him; keep your oath, for the engagement was made in the presence of God. It appears that the Jewish princes and chiefs took an oath of fidelity to their kings. This appears to have been done to David, 2Sa_5:1-3; to Joash, 2Ki_11:17; and to Solomon, 1Ch_29:24.

GILL, "I counsel thee to keep the king's commandment,.... Or, "to observe the mouth of the king" (w); what he says, and do according to it when it is agreeably to the law of God, and according to the laws of the kingdom, by which he is to govern; for kings are to be honoured, obeyed, and submitted to, in the lawful discharge of their office: and such counsel and advice as this is wholesome; and, being taken, contributes much, as to the honour of kings, so to the good of kingdoms and states, and to a man's own peace and comfort. Aben Ezra supplies it,

"I command thee, or I admonish thee;''

for it may be either a charge, or art advice, respecting this and what follows. Jarchi supplies and paraphrases it thus,

"I have need, and am prepared, to observe the mouth (or keep the commandment) of the King of the world;''

and so Alshech,

"observe that which goes out of the mouth of the King of the world.''

And indeed, to understand it, not of an earthly king, but of the King of kings, as it is understood by other interpreters also, suits better with what is said of this King in the following verses; whose commandments, which are not grievous, but to be loved above fine gold, should be kept from a principle of love, without mercenary and selfish views, as they are delivered out by him, and to his glory; and such a charge as this should be attended to, and such counsel be received;

and that in regard of the oath of God; who has swore, that if his children forsake his law, and walk not in his statutes, he will visit their transgressions with a rod, and their iniquities with stripes; and therefore should be careful to keep his commandments, Psa_89:30. Those who interpret this of an earthly king, by the oath of God understand the oath of allegiance and fidelity to him, taken in the name and presence of God, and therefore for conscience's sake should obey him: or render it, "but so that thou observest the manner of the oath of God" (x); or takest care to obey him; or do nothing in obedience to kings, which is contrary to the will of God; for God is to be obeyed rather than men, Act_4:19; especially, and above all things, that is to be regarded.

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HE�RY, "A particular instance of wisdom pressed upon us, and that is subjection to authority, and a dutiful and peaceable perseverance in our allegiance to the government which Providence has set over us. Observe,

1. How the duty of subjects is here described. (1.) We must be observant of the laws. In all those things wherein the civil power is to interpose, whether legislative or judicial, we ought to submit to its order and constitutions: I counsel thee; it may as well be supplied, I charge thee, not only as a prince but as a preacher: he might do both; “I recommend it to thee as a piece of wisdom; I say, whatever those say that are given to change, keep the king's commandment; wherever the sovereign power is lodged, be subject to it. Observe the mouth of a king” (so the phrase is); “say as he says; do as he bids thee; let his word be a law, or rather let the law be his word.” Some understand the following clause as a limitation of this obedience: “Keep the king's commandment, yet so as to have a regard to the oath of God, that is, so as to keep a good conscience and not to violate thy obligations to God, which are prior and superior to thy obligations to the king. Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, but so as to reserve pure and entire to God the things that are his.”

JAMISO�, "the king’s— Jehovah, peculiarly the king of Israel in the theocracy; Ecc_8:3, Ecc_8:4, prove it is not the earthly king who is meant.

the oath of God— the covenant which God made with Abraham and renewed with David; Solomon remembered Psa_89:35, “I have sworn,” etc. (Psa_89:36), and the penalties if David’s children should forsake it (Psa_89:30-32); inflicted on Solomon himself; yet God not “utterly” forsaking him (Psa_89:33, Psa_89:34).

BENSON, "Ecclesiastes 8:2-4. I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment — All his commands which are not contrary to the will of God, who must be obeyed rather than any man, even rather than a king. In regard of the oath of God — Because of that oath which thou hast taken to keep all God’s laws, whereof this of obedience to superiors is one. Be not hasty to go out of his sight — Hebrew, to go from his face or presence, namely, in dislike or discontent to WITHDRAW thyself from the king’s service, or from obedience to him: stand not in an evil thing — If thou hast offended him, persist not to do so but humbly acknowledge thine offence, and beg his pardon; for he doth whatsoever pleaseth him — His power is uncontrollable. Where the word of a king is, there is power — Whatsoever he commands he wants not power nor instruments to execute, and therefore can easily punish thee as he pleases. And who may say unto him — Hebrew, who shall say? who will presume, or dare to say so? He does not affirm that it is unlawful to say so; for Samuel spoke in that manner to Saul, and Nathan to David, and several other prophets to the kings of Judah and Israel; but only that it is difficult and dangerous.

PULPIT, "I counsel thee to keep the king's commandment. The pronoun I stands in the Hebrew without a verb, and some take it as the answer to the question in Ecc_8:1, "Who is like the wise man?" I, who am now teaching you. But it is better to regard the pronoun as emphasizing the following rule, supplying some verb, as, "Say, advise—I, for my part, whatever others may do or advise, I counsel thee;" the injunction being given in the imperative mood. The Septuagint and Syriac omit the

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pronoun altogether. The warning implies that the writer was living under kingly, and indeed despotic, government, and it was the part of a wise man to exhibit cheerful obedience. Ben-Sira observes that wise men teach us how to serve great men (Ecclesiasticus 8:8). Such conduct is not only prudent, but really a religious-duty, even as the prophets counsel submission to Assyrian and Chaldean rulers (see Jer_27:12; Jer_29:7; Eze_17:15). The liege lord, being God's vicegerent, must be reverenced and obeyed. St. Paul, though he does not quote Ecclesiastes, may have had this passage in mind when he wrote (Rom_13:1), "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God," etc.; and (verse 5), "Ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake." The "king" in the text is understood by some to mean God, but the following clause renders this improbable, and it is wisdom in its political aspect that is here regarded. And that in regard of the oath of God. The vav is explicative; "in regard of," or "because of," as Ecc_3:18. "The oath of God" is the oath of allegiance to the king, taken in the name of God, under his invocation (comp. Exo_22:11; 1Ki_2:43). So we read (2Ki_11:17) of a covenant between king and people, and people and king, in the time of Jehoiada; �ebuchadnezzar made Zedekiah swear by God to be his vassal (2Ch_36:13); and Josephus ('Ant.,' 12.1; 11.8. 3) relates that Ptolemy Soter, son of Lagus (following herein the example of Darius), exacted an oath from the Jews in Egypt to be true to him and his successors. We know that both Babylonian and Persian monarchs exacted an oath of fealty from conquered nations, making them swear by the gods whom they worshipped, the selection of deities being left to them,

PULPIT 2-6, "Honor the king.


1. To keep the king's command. Unless conscience interposes with a clear and distinct veto, as in the cases of Moses' parents (Heb_11:23), Daniel and his companions in Babylon (Ecc_1:8; Ecc_3:16-18; Ecc_6:10), and the apostles before the Sanhedrin (Act_4:19, Act_4:20), it is the duty of all to render obedience to the civil power, kingly or magisterial, even though the doing of this should entail suffering and hardship (Rom_13:1-7; Tit_3:1; 1Pe_2:13-15).

2. To abide in the king's service. The subject should not be hasty "to go out of the king's presence," in the sense of either renouncing allegiance to the king's throne, or deserting the post of duty he has received from the king. The obligation to preserve one's loyalty, however, is not absolute. Times may come when insurrection is a duty, as in the revolution which overthrew Athaliah (2Ch_23:15; 2Ki_11:16). �or can it be maintained that statesmen should never desert their sovereigns. When these embark on projects the consciences of their ministers cannot approve, it is incumbent on these ministers to leave them. Only nations should not resort to revolutionary practices without due consideration, and statesmen should not resign their portfolios in a fit of haste.

3. To preserve the king's favor. This the subject will usually do, if he "persist not in

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an evil thing," i.e. if he take no part in conspiracies against the king's power or person; as he certainly will lose the king's favor by acting otherwise.


1. The sanctions of religion. These as much bind the subject as if the subject had individually sworn an oath in God's presence. The relationship existing between king and people being of Divine appointment, the subject is practically bound as by a solemn covenant in God's sight to render obedience and loyalty to his sovereign (cf. 2Ch_23:16; 2Ch_36:13). �or does religion exempt the subject from such obligation even when the king is unworthy and his rule oppressive (Jer_29:7; Mat_22:21).

2. The power of the king. This also a reason why the subject should not raise the standard of rebellion without just cause, or offer unreasonable resistance to the carrying out of royal commands, that the king, as representative of the supreme power of the state, is usually able to enforce obedience and loyalty at least of an external kind. "The king doeth whatsoever pleaseth him," etc. (verses 3, 4). The language applies to Oriental despots more than to constitutional monarchs.

3. The safety of the subject. Under arbitrary rule such as the Preacher alluded to, the way of submission was the way of safety. It might not, indeed, promise much good to the individual quietly to submit to a power he could not resist; but at least it would largely protect him against evil. Ideal rulers should be a fountain of blessing to their loyal as well as a force of repression to their disloyal subjects (Rom_13:3).

4. The dictates of wisdom. The subject who might feel impelled to rebellion and disobedience perceives that, as "to every purpose there is a time and judgment", since otherwise man's misery beneath the whips and scorns of time would become intolerable, so the oppression under which he groans will one day exhaust itself, come to an end, and be called up for judgment at the bar of the Supreme, if not in time and on earth, at least at the world's close, and in the unseen; and, perceiving this, the wise subject deems it better to keep the king's commandment, and maintain allegiance to the king's throne, than to enter on the dubious paths of insurrection and revolt.


1. The superior honor due from man to him who is the King of kings.

2. The loftier grounds on which the Christian soul's allegiance to God and Jesus Christ is claimed.

3. The blessedness of those who are faithful subjects of the heavenly King.

4. The folly of attempting to elude God's presence, and the danger of persisting in an evil thing.

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5. The high argument for patience supplied by the certain prospect of a future judgment.

YOU�G, "The oath of God means the oath of allegiance which subjects took, and which is implied as taken by every citi-zen of every country. The word " king" stands for any ruler — any one in lawful authority. Obedience is due to " the powers that be," and is inculcated by several consid-erations. (1.) By the oath taken by subjects. While foreigners are generally required to take the oath of alle-giance on becoming citizens, all native-born citizens are regarded as under a covenant to obey. Bridges says, " If there be no outward covenants, as in days of old, the sol-emn obligation still remains to those who stand to us in the place of God." If it does not, then foreigners are better citizens than natives, which would be absurd. Be not hasty to go out of his sight : stand not in an evil thing ; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him. 4. Where the word of a king is, there is power : and tvho may say unto hiniy What doest thou ? 5. Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing : and a wise mans heart discerneth both time and judgment.

Be not impatient at the commands of the ruler, and therefore hasty to leave duty. And persist not in the wrong. To go out of the king's sight, is to avoid duty. In Esther i. 14, seven princes are spoken of, which saw the king's face, i. e., waited obediently before him. The angels " stand before God." They wait in obedient read-iness. Jesus says of " these little ones," " their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." They stand before God, looking to catch the first intima-tion of his will, to see what commands he has for them concerning these little ones.

They wait to avenge the wrongs of these little ones ; therefore despise them not. Be obedient, is expressed by — " go not out of his presence." " Stand not in an evil thing," i. e., persist not, if you have inadvertently or wil-fully erred.

" For he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him." (2.) The second reason here given for obedience is, the ruler has power to enforce his commands. " He doeth whatsoever pleaseth him." The fourth verse is a repetition of the last part of the third, to make it emphatic.

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HAWKER, "I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God. (3) Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him. (4) Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou? (5) Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment. (6) Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. (7) For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?

I am inclined to believe, that by the King here spoken of, the preacher (who was himself the greatest king among men), meant somewhat more than any earthly king; even Jesus who is King of kings, and Lord of lords. For the word of an earthly monarch is frequently without power. But He, of whom Solomon spake, hath all power in heaven and in earth. Oh! grant, blessed Jesus, that thy word may be always accompanied with power to my heart. Mat_28:18; Luk_4:32.

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR, "I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God.

Obedience to the civil government

Notwithstanding men differ so much in their several opinions concerning human authority, and entertain such various notions about the rise and original foundation of civil government: yet it is generally agreed upon by all sides that it is absolutely necessary that there should be such a thing as government; and the common voice of reason (as well as the practice of all ages) plainly declares that the universal good of mankind can in no wise be carried on without it. From hence it appears to be the interest of mankind in general that government should be kept up and maintained; but because men are so partial to themselves, as through pride, ambition, or revenge, to overlook and disregard the public good, when it stands in competition with their own private advantage: God in His wisdom has thought fit not to leave us to the guidance and direction of natural reason only, but has also by His revealed will more strongly enforced our obligation to contribute in our several capacities towards promoting the public good and common welfare of society. In discoursing upon which words I propose to consider them—

I. As they related particularly to the people of Israel. They may admit of this paraphrase: I advise and counsel you to pay all dutiful submission to your king and governor, to obey his commands in all instances which are not contrary to God’s laws; and thus I counsel thee to observe the king’s commandment, not only in point of prudence and humane policy, because he can do whatsoever pleaseth him, and has an absolute power to inflict punishment upon such as shall dare to disobey his commands; but upon a more weighty and religious account, because your disobedience will not only render you obnoxious to the wrath and displeasure of a powerful earthly prince, but provoke to anger the great God of heaven and earth, in whose presence you have obliged yourself by an oath to bear true allegiance to your sovereign; and who (as you very well know) has denounced severe threatenings against all such as shall presume to swear falsely by his name, and has positively declared that he will not hold him guiltless who is not careful to perform unto

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the Lord his oath.

II. As containing the ground and reason of our obedience to government. That obedience is due from subjects to their governors is a truth fairly deducible from natural reason; and that it is the duty of all men to comply with the laws of the particular constitution of the place where they live, the Scriptures evidently declare. They acquaint us that governors are the ministers of God, appointed for the common good of society, that whosoever resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God. As for the grounds and reasons upon which our obedience to government is founded, they are many and various; some take their force from those laws which the voice of reason dictates; some from those precepts and commands which are contained in the books of Scripture; some from that personal security which it has been the custom among many nations for the supreme authority to require of the several members which are under its jurisdiction; and from those engagements and promises which subjects have given the government to which they belong, that they will obediently submit to such rules and orders as the legislative power shall think fit to enjoin them to observe. An oath is a solemn appeal to Almighty God, as a Witness and Avenger. As a Witness to the truth of what we affirm, and the sincerity of our resolution to perform and do what we promise. As an Avenger in case we deliver for a truth what we know or believe to be false, and do not actually design to perform what we promise. It is therefore a most shameful and abominable practice to play fast and loose with things of so sacred a nature: it is one of the vilest as well as most dangerous sins a man can commit, one of the greatest indignities he can offer to his Creator; it is in a manner as enormous a crime as the calling in question God’s infinite truth and knowledge, and near as hazardous a provocation as that of bidding defiance to His almighty power. (T. Payne, M. A.)

K&D, "The faithfulness of subjects, Koheleth says, is a religious duty: “I say: Observe well the kings' command, and that because of the oath of God.” The author cannot have written Ecclesiastes 8:2 as it here stands; אני hovers in the air. Hitzig reads, with Jerome, L, and hears in Ecclesiastes 8:2-4 a servile person speaking who veils himself in theמרcloak of religion; in Ecclesiastes 8:5-8 follows the censura of this corrupt theory. but we have already remarked that Ecclesiastes 8:2 ACCORDS with Romans 13:5, and is thus not a corrupt theory; besides, this distribution of the expressions of the Book of Koheleth between different speakers is throughout an expedient resting on a delusion. Luther translates: I keep the word of the king, and thus reads �Lא; as also does the Jer. Sanhedrin 21b, and Koheleth rabba, under this passage: I observe the command of the king, of the queen. In any case, it is not God who is meant here by “the king;” the words: “and that because of the oath of God,” render this impossible, although Hengst. regards it as possible; for (1) “the oath of God” he understands, against all usage, of the oath which is taken to God; and (2) he maintains that in the O.T. scarcely any passage is to be found where obedience to a heathen master is set forth as a religious duty. But the prophets show themselves as morally great men, without a stain, just in this, that they decidedly condemn and unhesitatingly chastise any breach of faith committed against the Assyrian or Chaldean oppressor, e.g., Isaiah 28:15; Isaiah 30:1; Ezekiel 17:15; cf. Jeremiah 27:12. However, although we understand (mělěk) not of the heavenly, but of an earthly king, yet מרLא does not recommend itself, for Koheleth records his experience, and derives therefrom warnings and admonitions; but he never in this manner presents himself as an example of virtue. The paraenetic imper. מרL is thus not to be touched. Can we then use ani elliptically, as equivalent to “I say as follows”? Passages such as Jeremiah 20:10 (Elst.), where לאמר is omitted, are not at all the same. Also Ezekiel 34:11, where הנני is strengthened by ani, and the expression is not

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elliptical, is not in point here. And Isaiah 5:9 also does not APPLY to the case of the supposed ellipsis here. In an ingenious bold manner the Midrash helps itself in Lev 18 and Num 14, for with reference to the self-introduction of royal words like פרעה אני it explains: “Observe the I from the mouth of the king.” This explanation is worthy of mention, but it has little need of refutation; it is also contrary to the accentuation, which gives Pashta to ani, as to ראה, Ecclesiastes 7:27, and לבד, Ecclesiastes 7:29, and thus places it by itself. Now, since this elliptical I, after which we would place a colon, is insufferably harsh, and since also it does not recommend itself to omit it, as is done by the lxx, the Targ., and Syr., - for the words must then have a different order, מרL המלך פי, - it is most advisable to supply אמר�י, and to write אם אני or אני אם, after Ecclesiastes 2:1; Ecclesiastes 3:17-18. We find ourselves here, besides, within an I section, consisting of sentences interwoven in a Mashal form. The admonition is solemnly introduced, since Koheleth, himself a king, and a wise man in addition, gives it the support of the authority of his person, in which it is to be observed that the religious motive introduced by ו explic. (vid., Ewald, §340b) is not merely an appendix, but the very point of the admonition. Kleinert, INCORRECTLY: “Direct thyself according to the mouth of the king, and that, too, as according to an oath of God.” Were this the meaning, then we might certainly wish that it were a servile Alexandrian court-Jew who said it. But why should that be the meaning? The meaning “wegen” because of, which is usually attributed to the word-connection עלדברת here and at Ecclesiastes 3:18; Ecclesiastes 7:14, Kleinert maintains to be an arbitrary invention. But it alone fits these three passages, and why an arbitrary invention? If ברOעל־, Psalm 45:5; Psalm 79:9, etc., means “von wegen” on ACCOUNT of, then also על־דברת will signify “propter rationem, naturam,” as well as (Psalm 110:4) ad rationem. ב אלL is, as elsewhere ב יהL, e.g., Exodus 22:10, a promise given under an appeal to God, a declaration or promise strengthened by an oath. Here it is the oath of obedience which is meant, which the covenant between a king and his people includes, though it is not expressly entered into by individuals. The king is designated neither as belonging to the nation, nor as a foreigner; that which is said is VALID also in the case of the latter. Daniel, Nehemiah, Mordecai, etc., acted in conformity with the words of Koheleth, and the oath of vassalage which the kings of Israel and Judah swore to the kings of Assyria and of Babylon is regarded by the prophets of both kingdoms as binding on king and people.

3 Do not be in a hurry to leave the king's presence. Do not stand up for a bad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases.

BAR�ES, "Stand not ... - i. e., “Do not persist in rebellion.”

CLARK, "Be not hasty - I consider the first five verses here as directions to courtiers, and the more immediate servants of kings.

Be steadily faithful to your sovereign. Do not stand in an evil thing. If you have done

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wrong, do not endeavor to vindicate yourself before him; it is of no use; his power is absolute, and he will do what he pleases. He will take his own view of the subject, and he will retain it. The language of a despotic sovereign was ever this, Sic volo sic jubeo, stat pro ratione voluntas; “I will this. I command that. No hesitation! My will is law!” Therefore it is added here, Where the word of a king is, there is power - influence, authority, and the sword. And who may say unto him, whether he acts right or wrong, What doest thou? Ecc_8:4. No wonder in such governments there are so many revolutions; but they are revolutions without amendment, as it is one tyrant rising up to destroy another, who, when seated in authority, acts in the way of his predecessor; till another, like himself, do to him as he has done to the former. In our country, after a long trial, we find that a mixed monarchy is the safest, best, and most useful form of government: we have had, it is true, unprincipled ministers, who wished to turn our limited into an absolute monarchy; and they were always ready to state that an absolute monarchy was best. Granted; provided the monarch be as wise, as holy, and as powerful as God!

GILL, "Be not hasty to go out of his sight,.... But of the sight of the King of kings. Do not think to hide thyself from him, for there is no fleeing from his presence, Psa_139:7; it is best, when under some consternation, as the word (y) signifies, or under some fearful apprehension of his wrath and indignation, to fall down before him, acknowledge the offence, and pray for pardon: and to this purpose is the Targum,

"and in the time of the indignation of the Lord, do not cease to pray before him; being terrified (or troubled) before him, go and pray, and seek mercy of him;''

and with which agrees the note of Jarchi,

"be not troubled, saying that thou wilt go and free from his presence, to a place where he does not rule, for he rules in every place.''

Such who interpret this of an earthly king suppose this forbids a man going out from the presence of a king in a pet and passion, withdrawing himself from his court and service in a heat, at once;

stand not in an evil thing; having done it, continue not in it; but repent of it, acknowledge and forsake it, whether against God or an earthly king;

for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him; which best agrees with the King of kings, who does what he pleases, in heaven above and in earth below, both in nature, providence, and grace; see Job_23:13; though earthly kings indeed have long hands, as is usually said, and can reach a great way, and do great things, especially despotic and arbitrary princes, and it is very difficult escaping their hands. The Targum is,

"for the Lord of all worlds, the Lord will do what he pleases.''

HE�RY, "We must not be forward to find fault with the public administration, or quarrel with every thing that is not just according to our mind, nor quit our post of

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service under the government, and throw it up, upon every discontent (Ecc_8:3): “Be not hasty to go out of his sight, when he is displeased at thee (Ecc_10:4), or when thou art displeased at him; fly not off in a passion, nor entertain such jealousies of him as will tempt thee to renounce the court or forsake the kingdom.” Solomon's subjects, as soon as his head was laid low, went directly contrary to this rule, when upon the rough answer which Rehoboam gave them, they were hasty to go out of his sight, would not take time for second thoughts nor admit proposals of accommodation, but cried, To your tents, O Israel! “There may perhaps be a just cause to go out of his sight; but be not hasty to do it; act with great deliberation.” (3.) We must not persist in a fault when it is shown us: “Stand not in an evil thing; in any offence thou hast given to thy prince humble thyself, and do not justify thyself, for that will make the offence much more offensive. In any ill design thou hast, upon some discontent, conceived against thy prince, do not proceed in it; but if thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or hast thought evil, lay thy hand upon thy mouth,” Pro_30:32. Note, Though we may by surprise be drawn into an evil thing, yet we must not stand in it, but recede from it as soon as it appears to us to be evil.

JAMISO�, "hasty— rather, “Be not terror-struck so as to go out of His sight.” Slavishly “terror-struck” is characteristic of the sinner’s feeling toward God; he vainly tries to flee out of His sight (Psa_139:7); opposed to the “shining face” of filial confidence (Ecc_8:1; Joh_8:33-36; Rom_8:2; 1Jo_4:18).

stand not— persist not.

for he doeth— God inflicts what punishment He pleases on persisting sinners (Job_23:13; Psa_115:3). True of none save God.

PULPIT, "Further advice concerning political behavior. Be not hasty to go out of his (the king's) sight. Do not, from some hasty impulse, or induced by harsh treatment, cast off your allegiance to your liege lord. We have the phrase, "go away," in the sense of quitting of service or desertion of a duty, in Gen_4:16; Hos_11:2. So St. Peter urges servants to be subject unto their masters, "not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward" (1Pe_2:18). Solomon might have given this advice to the Israelites who were ready to follow Jeroboam's lead; though they could have remained loyal to Rehoboam only from high religious motives. But it is better to bear even a heavy yoke than to rebel. The Septuagint has, "Be not hasty; thou shalt go from his presence"—which seems to mean, "Be not impatient, and all will be well." But the authorized rendering is correct (comp. Ecc_10:4). We may quote Mendelssohn's comment cited by Chance on Job_34:16, "This is a great rule in politics, that the people must have no power to pronounce judgment upon the conduct of a king, whether it be good or bad; for the king judges the people, and not the reverse; and if it were not for this rule, the country would never be quiet, and without rebels against the king and his law." Stand not in an evil thing; Vulgate, �eque permaneas in opere malo, "Persist not in an evil affair." But the verb here implies rather the engaging in a matter than CO�TI�UI�G an undertaking already begun. The "affair" is conspiracy, insurrection; and Koheleth warns against entering upon and taking part in any such attempt. This seems to be the correct explanation of the clause; but it is, perhaps intentionally, ambiguous, and is capable of other interpretations. Thus Ginsburg, "Do not stand up (in a passion) because of

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an evil word." Others, "Obey not a sinful command," or "Hesitate not at an evil thing," i.e. if the king orders it. Wordsworth, referring to Psa_1:1. renders, "Stand not in the way of sinners," which seems to be unsuitable to the context. The Septuagint gives, "Stand not in an evil word" ( λόγῳ , perhaps "matter"). The reason for the injunction follows. For he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him. The irresponsible power of a despotic monarch is here signified, though the terms are applicable (as some, indeed, take them as alone appertaining) to God himself (but see Pro_20:2). The Septuagint combines with this clause the commencement of the following verse, "For he will do whatsover he pleases, even as a king using authority ( ἐξουσιάζων )." Some manuscripts add λαλεῖ , "he speaks."

K&D, "The warning, corresponding to the exhortation, now follows: One must not thoughtlessly avoid the duty of service and homage due to the king: “Hasten not to go away from him: join not in an evil matter; for he executeth all that he desireth.” Regarding the connection, of two verbs with one idea, lying before us in אל־… תלך , as e.g., at Zechariah 8:15; Hosea 1:6, vid., Gesen. §142. 3b. Instead of this sentence, we might use אל־תבהל ללכת מפניו, as e.g., Aboth v. 8: “The wise man does not interrupt another, and hastens not to answer,” i.e., is not too hasty in answering. As with עם, to be with the king, Ecclesiastes 4:15 = to hold with him, so here מפניו הלךmeans to take oneself away from him, or, as it is expressed in Ecclesiastes 10:4, to leave one's station; cf. Hosea 11:2: “They (the prophets of Jahve) called to them, forthwith they betook themselves away from them.” It is possible that in the choice of the expression, the phrase נבהל מפני, “to be put into a state of alarm before any one,” Job 23:15, was not without influence. The indef. רע דבר, Deuteronomy 17:1; Deuteronomy 23:10, cf. Deuteronomy 13:12; Deuteronomy 19:20, 2 Kings 4:41, etc., is to be referred (with Rosenm., Knobel, Bullock, and others) to undertakings which aim at resisting the will of the king, and reach their climax in conspiracy against the king's throne and life (Proverbs 24:21 ). אל־תעמד ב might mean: persist not in it; but the warning does not presuppose that the entrance thereon had already taken place, but seeks to prevent it, thus: E�TERnot, go not, engage not, like ('amad bederek), Psalm 1:1; ('amad babrith), 2 Kings 23:3; cf. Psalm 106:23; Jeremiah 23:18. Also the Arab. ('amada li) = intendit, proposuit sibi rem, is compared; it is used in the general sense of “to make toward something, to stretch to something.” Otherwise Ewald, Elst., Ginsb., and Zöckl.: stand not at an evil word (of the king), provoking him to anger thereby still more, - against Ecclesiastes 8:5, where רע דבר, as generally (cf. Psalm 141:4), means an evil thing, and against the close connection of ב עמד, which is to be presupposed. Hitzig even: stand not at an evil command, i.e., hesitate not to do even that which is evil, which the king commands, with the remark that here a servilismus is introduced as speaking, who, in saying of the king, “All that pleaseth him he doeth,” uses words which are used only of God the Almighty, John 1:14; Psalm 33:9, etc. Hengst., Hahn, Dale, and others therefore dream of the heavenly King in the text. But proverbs of the earthly king, such as Proverbs 20:2, say the very same thing; and if the Mishna Sanhedrin ii. 2, to which Tyler refers, says of the king, “The king cannot himself be a judge, nor can any one judge him; he does not give evidence, and no evidence can be given against him,” a sovereignty is thus attributed to the king, which is formulated in 3b and established in the verse

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4 Since a king's word is supreme, who can say to him, "What are you doing?"

GILL, "Where the word of a king is, there is power,.... Or "dominion" (z). Authority goes along with his word of command; and there is an inferior magistracy, a subordinate power under him, ready to execute his will upon the rebellious and disobedient. Jarchi interprets it, the word of the holy blessed God; and the Targum, the word of that King who rules over all the world; where his word of doctrine comes, not in word only, it is with power: his written word is quick and powerful; the word of his Gospel preached is the power of God to salvation; or is accompanied with power to enlighten dark minds, quicken dead sinners, unstop deaf ears, soften hard hearts, and deliver men from the slavery of sin and Satan; it makes men, of enemies, friends to God, Christ, and good men; transforms them by the renewing of their minds, and comforts and establishes saints; all which is attributed to the word; and are the effects of almighty power, Heb_4:12; his word of command also comes with power, being clothed with his authority; and is submitted to by his people in the day of his power upon them, who readily and cheerfully obey it;

and who may say unto him, what dost thou? call him to an account for, or complain of any of his works of creation, providence, or grace? This best agrees with God than with an earthly king; and is said of him elsewhere, Job_9:12.

JAMISO�, "God’s very “word” is “power.” So the gospel word (Rom_1:16; Heb_4:12).

who may say, etc.— (Job_9:12; Job_33:13; Isa_45:9; Dan_4:35). Scripture does not ascribe such arbitrary power to earthly kings.

PULPIT, "Where the word of a king is, there is power. A further confirmation of the last thought. More accurately, "Inasmuch as the word of a king is powerful" (shilton, Ecc_8:8). This last word is used in Daniel (Dan_3:2) for "a lord," or "ruler." The king does as he thinks fit because his mandate is all-powerful, and must be obeyed, And who may say unto him, What doest thou? The same expression is found applied to God (Job_9:12; Isa_45:9; Wis. 12:12). The absolute authority of a despot is spoken of in the same terms as the irresistible power of Almighty God. Εἰκὼν δὲ βασιλεύς ἐστιν ἔµψυχος Θεοῦ . "God's living image is an earthly king."

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR, "Where the word of a king ii there is power.

The king’s word

The reference is, doubtless, to certain kings who lived in ancient times, perchance, for

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instance, to Solomon himself. But we speak to-day not of an earthly ruler, but of a heavenly. There is another King, one Jesus, who shares with His Father the throne of the universe, whose word stands fast for ever. May we love Him so well, and trust Him so perfectly, that His word, whatever it is, shall have due power with us. There is power in it, and we shall do well to yield to it at once. Happy the subjects of this holy King whose word while it is powerful is always sweet, and true, and tender.

I. Throughout his vast dominions the word of God and Christ exercises indisputable and irresistible influence. How small are the kingdoms of this earth, how great and glorious are the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ. I know that as yet we see not all things put under Him, but even now the sun never sets upon His kingdom, and countless worlds, for aught we know, are rolling towards His feet. He is already “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” Alike in nature, providence and grace, He sits supreme. He is ordaining end ordering all things. Let your doubts and fears be gone; He fainteth not, neither is He weary, He is neither sleeping nor hunting, nor journeying. His sceptre is still in His hand, and the hand is not shrunken nor feeble. While God lives and reigns all is well!

II. The word of a king has power—special power, perhaps—in his throne room. If God’s word and Christ’s have power in any place, they may be supposed to have special influence in the very centre of His palace. There He sits at His Father’s side, sharing the Father’s glory, rejoicing in His well-deserved renown; His word has power there if nowhere else. Elsewhere, rebellion may seek to lift its hideous head, but not there. The angels wait upon Him, bright servitors, whose only joy it is to fly at His command, to do His bidding, whatever it may be. The spirits of just men made perfect circle round Him, serving Him day and night in His temple; men and women, aye, and little children too, rejoice to run the errands of the King, and so to show their love; while mysterious living creatures bow before His face and help to swell the anthem that ever rises to His praise.

III. Even when the King was travelling in disguise there was still power in His word. He was King of hearts; He summoned men to join His train with just that irresistible “Follow Me.” He was King of the elements, so that the winds and waves hearkened to His voice, and laid themselves to rest like cowed beasts within their lairs. He was King of disease, so that however virulent or longstanding, it fled and ceased at His command. He was King of death: “Lazarus, co, me forth,” He cried, with a loud voice, and Lazarus came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes. He was King of Satan, for though the devil bade Him fall at his feet and worship him, Christ got the victory again and again. He was King of sin, for only He could say to those who had long been dead in trespasses and sins, “Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee.” He was a King, every inch of Him, from His cradle to His grave.

IV. The word of a king has special power in his audience chamber. In the palace of which I speak, there is an apartment set aside for the special purpose of holding interviews with those who would petition the king. To it subjects of every name, and race, and degree, are always welcome; nay, our King, if I may so say, sits even in the gate, so that applicants who have not boldness to venture to the palace can still approach Him. There He stretches out His silver sceptre, welcoming all who have petitions to present and pleas to urge. In this audience chamber the word of the King has power. He permits you to pray, and that permit none can cancel. He gladly hears your arguments, and if they are such as He has prompted, they will avail with Him. There is power in His word of promise; He has never recalled one. He has never failed to fulfil one. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” He may keep you waiting a little while, according to His wisdom, but the blessing is already on the wing. If your heart is open

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for it, it will soon come fluttering in.

V. The word of a king is heard in his banqueting hall. Jesus is never so happy as when He feasts His saints. He loves them to commune with Him, he rejoices when their meditation of Him is sweet, and when, instead so much of speaking to Him, they employ their spiritual powers in hearing and listening to His voice. There is power in every word He speaks, power in the invitation that He issues, and in the welcome that He utters to all. What a knack He has of making His guests feel at home. How readily He sets them at their ease. How charmingly He makes them understand that all that He has is theirs, that the good things on the table are net for ornament, but can be taken, tasted and enjoyed.

VI. There is power is the king’s word, moreover, on the battlefield. “The Lord is a Man of war; the Lord is His name.” He fights, as we do, with weapons that are not carnal but spiritual. There is a sword that goeth out of His mouth, that is the word of the King’s power. It strikes terror like a barbed arrow into the hearts of the King’s enemies. When He sounds His battle cry, even Midian is put to confusion and to flight. On this same battlefield He inspires His followers. If He says “Up guards and at them,” though we be but a thin red line, we will charge the serried ranks of the enemy. If He bids us lie in the trenches, though it may not be such congenial work, we will do it, for there is a power in His word we dare not resist. There is, moreover, enabling power in it. We can hold ourselves in reserve if God bids us do so. If He sends us out on pioneer work, or on sentry-go—this is lonely work—we will do either, for there will be sufficient grace whatever the King’s orders are. His very word is omnipotent, and we are omnipotent if we obey it!

VII. There is power in the king’s word in foreign courts. We talk about “the Great Powers of Europe.” Comparatively speaking they are powerful, with their armies and their navies and their armaments and exchequers, but oh, there is a greater Power than all of these of both worlds rolled into one. And we are servants of that great Power, ambassadors of God who, in Christ’s stead warn arid rebuke and beseech. (T. Spurgeon.)

The word of a king

Kings in Solomon’s day had a vast amount of power, for their word was absolute. When such a monarch happened to be wise and good, it was a great blessing to the people; for “a king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.” But if he was of a hard, tyrannical nature, his subjects were mere slaves, and groaned beneath a yoke of iron. We do not sufficiently give thanks for the blessings of a constitutional government. There is, however, one King whose power we do not wish in any degree to limit or circumscribe. God doeth as He wills amongst the armies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of this lower world; none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou? In this we greatly rejoice.

I. First, we would see the power of the word of the Lord in order to excite our awe of Him. What are we poor creatures of a day? Man proposes, but God disposes; man resolves, but God dissolves; that which man expecteth, God rejecteth; for the word of the Lord standeth for ever, but man passes away and is not. Think of the day before all days when there was no day but the Ancient of Days, and when God dwelt all alone; then He willed in His mind that there should be a world created. “He spake, and it was done: He commanded, and it stood fast.” When the Lord created He used no hand of cherubim or seraphim: all that we read in the sublimely simple record of Genesis is, “God said, let

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there be,” and there was. His word accomplished all, and when He wills to destroy either one man or a million His word is able to work His will. Oh, how we ought to worship Thee, thou dread Supreme, upon whose word life and death are made to hang! I might in another division of this part of my subject remind you of the power which attends both His promises and His threatenings. God has never promised without performing in due time to the last jot and tittle. Hath He said, and shall He not do it? Hath He commanded, and shall it not come to pass? There is power in God’s word to foretell, so that, when He tells what is to be in the future, we know that it shall come to pass. “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate.” Thus saith the Lord, “I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” In the word of the Lord also there is power to predestinate as well as to foretell, so that what He decrees is fixed and certain. “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” Let us worship the great Ordainer, Benefactor, and Ruler, whose every word is the word of a King, in which there is power.

II. Secondly, we would think of the power of God’s word in order to ensure our obedience to it. Whenever God gives a word of command it comes to us clothed with authority, and its power over our minds should be immediate and unquestioned. The sole authority in the Church is Christ Himself: He is the Head of His Church, and His word is the only authority by which we are ruled. Every precept that He gives lie intends us to keep; He does not ordain it that we may question it; He commands that we may obey. Let me refer you to what Solomon says in verse 2: “I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment.” This is admirable counsel for every Christian: if the commandment were of the wisest of men, we might break it, and perhaps do right in breaking it; but if it be the King who gives the command, even the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the King in Zion, then the advice of the Preacher is wise and weighty. Solomon goes on to say, “Be not hasty to go out of His sight.” There is such power in God’s word that I would have you also obey this precept, and seek to remain in His presence. Walk in communion with Christ in whatever path He may point out to you. Never mind how rough it is: do not imagine it is the wrong road because it is so rough; rather reckon it to be right because it is rough, for seldom do smoothness and rightness go together. Oh, to abide in Christ the Word, and to have His word abiding in us! Solomon then says, “Stand not in an evil thing.” There is such power in the word of God that He can readily destroy you, or heavily chastise you, therefore be quick to amend, and “stand not in an evil thing.” Repent, obey, submit, confess, seek pardon at once.

III. And now, thirdly, To inspire our confidence, let us think that “where the word of a king is, there is power.” If there is a heart here that is seeking mercy, if you can go before God with such a promise as this in your mouth, “Let the wicked forsake his way,” etc., that word of His is not a mere sound, there is the power of truth in it. If you do what He there bids you do you shall find that He can and will abundantly pardon. Do you tell me that you cannot conquer your evil passions and corrupt desires? Here is a promise from the word of the Lord, “From all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” Now come and plead these precious promises, there is power in them, they are the words of a King, and if you plead them at the mercy-seat you shall become a new creature in Christ Jesus: old things shall pass away; all things shall become new. And are there any of you who are struggling at this time with a remaining corruption which you cannot conquer? Now come and lay hold of the promise that you shall overcome, and plead it before the mercy-seat. If you do but get any promise of God suited to your case, make quick use of it, for there is power in it; it is the word of a King! Then, also, are there any of you in great

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trouble? Remember His word, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” Go and tell him that He has thus spoken, and that He has therein pledged Himself to deliver you out of all afflictions: and be sure of this, He will be as good as His word. Do you expect soon to die? Are you somewhat distressed because sickness is undermining your constitution? Be not afraid, for His Spirit teaches you to sing, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me: Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”

IV. I address myself to all people of God who are associated in Church-fellowship, and striving to do the Lord’s service; and to you who will be so associated here. My text is to be used to direct your efforts you need power; not the power of money, or mind, or influence, or numbers; but “power from on high.” All other power may be desirable, but this power is indispensable. Spiritual work can only be done by spiritual power. I counsel you in order to get spiritual power in all that you do to keep the King’s commandment, for “where the word of a king is, there is powers” Whatsoever you find in Scripture to be the command of the King, follow it, though it leads you into a course that is hard for the flesh to bear: I mean a path of singular spirituality and nonconformity to the world. Remember that, after all, the truth may be with the half-dozen, and not with the million. Christ’s power may be with the handful as it was at Pentecost, when the power came down upon the despised disciples, and not upon the chief priests and scribes, though they had the sway in religious matters. If we want to win souls for Christ we must use the Word of God to do it. Other forms of good work languish unless the Gospel is joined with them. Set about reforming, civilizing, and elevating the people, and you will lose your time unless you evangelize them. Then again, if you want power, you must use this Word in pleading. If your work here is to be a success, there must be much praying; everything in God’s house is to be done with prayer. Give me a praying people, and I shall have a powerful people. The Word of the King is that which gives power to our prayers. There is power in accepting that Word, in getting it into you, or receiving it. You never keep the truth till you have received this Word of a King into your spiritual being, and absorbed it into your spiritual nature. Oh, that you might every one of you eat the Word, live on it, and make it your daily food! And then, there is power in the practising of it. Where there is life through the King’s Word, it will be a strong life. The sinner’s life is a feeble life; but an obedient life, an earnest Christian life, is a life of strength. Even those who hate it and abhor it cannot help feeling that there is a strange influence about it which they cannot explain, and they must respect it. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

K&D, "“Inasmuch as the word of a king is powerful; and who can say to him: What doest thou?” The same thing is said of God, Job 9:12; Isaiah 45:9; Daniel 4:32, Wisd. 12:12, but also of the king, especially of the unlimited monarch of a despotic state. Baasher verifies as ש� at Ecclesiastes 2:16; cf. Genesis 39:9, Genesis 39:23; Greek, ἐν ω and ἐφ ω . Burger arbitrarily: quae dixit (דבר for דבר), rex, in ea potestatem habet. The adjectival impers. use of the noun (shilton) = potestatem habens, is peculiar; in the Talm. and Midrash, (shilton), like the Assyr. (siltannu),

NOTE: Vid., Fried. Delitzsch's Assyr. Stud. p. 129f.)

means the ruler (vid., under Ecclesiastes 5:8). That which now follows is not, as Hitzig supposes, an opposing voice which makes itself heard, but as Ecclesiastes 8:2 is compared with Romans

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13:5, so is Ecclesiastes 8:5 with Romans 13:3.

5 Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.

BAR�ES, "Feel - literally, know. The meaning is, “He who obeys the commandment (i. e., the word of the king, Ecc_8:4), will not be an accomplice in any act of rebellion; and if he be a wise man he discerns (literally knows) that the king’s commandment or action is liable to correction, if it be wrong, in God’s time and by God’s judgment.” Compare Ecc_3:11, Ecc_3:17.

CLARK, "Both time and judgment - It is a matter of great importance to be able to discern When and How both to speak and act; but when time and manner are both determined, the matter comes next. What shall I speak? What shall I do? When, how, and what answer to time, manner, and knitter. To discern all these, and act suitably, is a lesson for a philosopher, and a study for a Christian.

GILL, "Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing,.... Either the commandment of an earthly king, which should be kept, when agreeably to the laws of the nation, and not inconsistent with the commands of God; and such as do observe it "know no evil" (a), as it may be rendered, or no sorrow; they live peaceably and quietly, and enjoy the favour and protection of the government under which they are, and have praise of men; see Rom_13:3; or the commandments of the heavenly King, the singular being put for the plural; so the Targum,

"whoso keepeth the commandments of the Lord shall know no evil in the world to come.''

Nor in this world neither; no evil befalls them; what may be thought to be so is for their good; though they know and are conscious of the evil of sin, and commit it, yet not willingly, and with love to it, and so as to make it the work of their lives; but lament it, repent of it, and forsake it, and do not feel the evil of punishment for it; yea, such enjoy much good; have much communion with God; large discoveries of his love; dwell in him, and shall at last dwell with him in the heavenly city; see Joh_14:21;

and a wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment; he knows not only

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what is his duty to do, both with respect to God and men, to a temporal prince or the King eternal; but he knows also the most fit and convenient time of doing it; and lays hold on every opportunity that offers, and which may be called "redeeming time", Gal_6:10; and he knows the right manner in which it should be performed, with all the agreeable circumstances of it, which he carefully observes; or he knows the judgment that will be passed, or the punishment that will be inflicted on delinquents, either by God or men; and therefore is careful to keep the commandment, and avoid it: and especially he remembers there is a judgment to come, when everything will be brought to an account; and, though he does not know the precise day and hour, yet he knows there will be such a time; so some render it, "the time of judgment" (b): the Targum is,

"and the time of prayer, and of judgment, and of truth, is known by the heart of the wise.''

HE�RY, "We must prudently accommodate ourselves to our opportunities, both for our own relief, if we think ourselves wronged, and for the redress of public grievances: A wise man's heart discerns both time and judgment (Ecc_8:5); it is the wisdom of subjects, in applying themselves to their princes, to enquire and consider both at what season and in what manner they may do it best and most effectually, to pacify his anger, obtain his favour, or obtain the revocation of any grievous measure prescribed. Esther, in dealing with Ahasuerus, took a deal of pains to discern both time and judgment, and she sped accordingly. This may be taken as a general rule of wisdom, that every thing should be well timed; and our enterprises are then likely to succeed, when we embrace the exact opportunity for them.

2. What arguments are here used to engage us to be subject to the higher powers; they are much the same with those which St. Paul uses, Rom_13:1, etc. (1.) We must needs be subject, for conscience-sake, and that is the most powerful principle of subjection. We must be subject because of the oath of God, the oath of allegiance which we have taken to be faithful to the government, the covenant between the king and the people, 2Ch_23:16. David made a covenant, or contract, with the elders of Israel, though he was king by divine designation, 1Ch_11:3. “Keep the king's commandments, for he has sworn to rule thee in the fear of God, and thou hast sworn, in that fear, to be faithful to him.” It is called the oath of God because he is a witness to it and will avenge the violation of it. (2.) For wrath's sake, because of the sword which the prince bears and the power he is entrusted with, which make him formidable: He does whatsoever pleases him; he has a great authority and a great ability to support that authority (Ecc_8:4): Where the word of a king is, giving orders to seize a man, there is power; there are many that will execute his orders, which makes the wrath of a king, or supreme government, like the roaring of a lion and like messengers of death. Who may say unto him, What doest thou? He that contradicts him does it at his peril. Kings will not bear to have their orders disputed, but expect they should be obeyed. In short, it is dangerous contending with sovereignty, and what many have repented. A subject is an unequal match for a prince. He may command me who has legions at command. (3.) For the sake of our own comfort: Whoso keeps the commandment, and lives a quiet and peaceable life, shall feel no evil thing, to which that of the apostle answers (Rom_13:3), Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power of the king? Do that which is good, as becomes a dutiful and loyal subject, and thou shalt ordinarily have praise of the same. He that does no ill shall feel no ill and needs fear none.

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JAMISO�, "feel— experience.time— the neglect of the right “times” causes much of the sinful folly of the spiritually

unwise (Ecc_3:1-11).

judgment— the right manner [Holden]. But as God’s future “judgment” is connected with the “time for every purpose” in Ecc_3:17, so it is here. The punishment of persisting sinners (Ecc_8:3) suggests it. The wise man realizes the fact, that as there is a fit “time” for every purpose, so for the “judgment.” This thought cheers him in adversity (Ecc_7:14; Ecc_8:1).

PULPIT, "Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing. This is an encouragement to obedience to royal authority (comp. Pro_24:21, Pro_24:22; Rom_13:3). The context plainly shows that it is not God's commandment that is spoken of (though, of course, the maxim would be very true in this case), but the king's. �or is it necessarily a servile and unreasoning obedience that is enjoined. Koheleth is dealing with generals. Such cases as that of Daniel and the three children, where obedience would have been sinful, are not here taken into consideration. "Shall feel," literally, "shall know," i.e. experience no physical evil. Quiet submission to the powers that be guarantees a peaceful and happy life. Ginsburg and others translate, "knoweth not an evil word," i.e. is saved from abuse and reproach, which seems somewhat meager, though the Septuagint gives, Οὐ γνώσεται ῥῆµα πονηρόν . The Vulgate is better, �on experietur quidquam malt. And a wise man's heart discerneth (knoweth) both time and judgment. The verb is the same in both clauses, and ought to have been so translated. The "heart" includes the moral as well as the intellectual faculties; and the maxim says that the wise man bears oppression and remains unexcited even in evil days, because he is convinced that there is a time of judgment coming when all will be righted (Ecc_12:14). The certainty of retributive justice is so strong in his mind that he does not resort to rebellion in order to rectify matters, but possesses his soul in patience, leaving the correction of abuses in God's hands. Septuagint, "The wise man's heart knoweth the time of judgment," making a hendiadys of the two terms. The Vulgate has tempus et responsionem, "time and answer."

YOU�G, "In the fifth verse another reason is given for obedience. (3.) There is safety in obedience. " Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing." Also a fourth reason is given. (4.) A wise subject looks at present consequences and the future judgment. " A wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment." These same arguments for obedience to rulers are used by Paul. Rom. xiii. 1-7; Titus iii. 1. Also by Peter, 1 Pet. ii. 13-18. Such views as these must be inculcated and maintained under all administrations, and in all circumstances. But if rulers direct us to do what is contrary to God's word, we are to " obey God rather than man."

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A wise man's heart discerneth the fit time — the riijht opportunity, and the final result of conduct — the judgment of God upon it, favourable or unfavourable. It may be that this passage refers to the rectifying of abuses in a government. If so, it means, the wise man knows when to seek to rectify them ; and thinks of the responsibility —the judgment of God upon his conduct. If there are abuses in the government or country, the wise man will seek the proper time of undertaking the office of a re-former, and the proper method; looking to the judgment of God (and of posterity.)

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR, "A wise man’s heart disoerneth both time and judgment.

A watchnight meditation

Of all seasons of the year the present one inclines us most to thought. If, when the old year is dying, or when the new is being born, men will not think, it is very doubtful if they will ever think at all.

I. A man who is not utterly unwise will see that this is a time for review. It is said of the Emperor Titus that he used to review each day as it drew to its close, and if he could not recall anything which he had done for the good of others he set it down in his note-book that he had lost a day. It was not a bad rule for a heathen king, but hardly good enough for a Christian man. And yet some of us who live in the mid-day of the Gospel do not aim so high, with the poor result that we hit something very much lower than the mark set before us. We come short of the glory of doing the Divine will. It is bad enough to lose one day, but how about losing three hundred and sixty-five? Yes, unless it has been lived in God, consciously in Him and for Him, we may set it down as lost. Let us all find opportunity for a quiet, earnest talk with the hours of the year that has gone. Look well at the old before you greet the new. It will make the new all the better, and when in its turn it becomes old the task of reviewing it will not be so unpleasant.

II. A man of wisdom will see that this is an appropriate time for reconciliations. Has there been a little rift in friendship’s lute? Now is a good time for mending the instrument and bringing back the harmony, music for the King of kings. Take the tide of good feeling at the flood, and be reconciled to those whom for a while thou mayest have been alienated. “When death, the great reconciler, has come, it is never our tenderness we repent of, but our severity.” Let us see to it that we enter the new year at peace with God. He is reconciled in Christ to us. Why should we stand out?

III. The wise man who observeth time and judgment will hear a voice at this particular time appealing to his generosity. Yea, there is more than one voice speaking to us on this behalf. There is the very voice of poverty itself speaking in plaintive tones to those who have the sympathetic ear. There is the voice of our own joys and comforts reminding us of the distress of those who are devoid of these things.

IV. This is a time for consecration. To consecrate ourselves to God is to recognize the supreme fact of our existence and to act upon it. This is the time of all times for consecration, while the goodness of God is passing before us. As the mercies of the year marshal past us in grand and swift review let us listen to their pleading and present ourselves to God. (T. Jackson.)

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The wise man’s improvement of time

I. The Christian’s spiritual discernment of time.

1. The wise man marks with a discerning eye the successive developments which time has made of God’s gracious purposes towards our guilty race.

2. The man who is spiritually “wise,” and divinely taught, solemnly ponders the devastations of time. And how fearful have been his ravages! He has overturned the mightiest empires, sapped the loftiest towers, and laid low the proudest cities. But above all, time has with irresistible flood swept away in succession the countless millions of our race. Tamerlane the Tartar reared a vast pyramid, formed of the skulls of those victims whom he had slain in battle; but death wages a more fatal contest over a wider field; and for us “there is no discharge from that war.” Diseases in all their sad variety are his ministers; and were a pyramid to be erected by him of human bones, it would pierce the clouds of heaven.

3. The Christian marks and ponders the shortness of time. What are six, or ten, or a hundred thousand years? They are but units in eternity’s countless reckoning; they are but drops in eternity’s unfathomable and shoreless ocean. But when we reckon time by the period of man’s life, “the days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength” in some “they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for we are soon cut off, and we flee away.” Life is truly like the bridge which the moralist describes; a mighty multitude presses to cross it, but it is filled with openings through which the passengers are continually dropping into a dark and rapid river beneath, and but a few are left; and as these approach the other side they, too, fall through and perish. The Christian, “knowing the time,” learns to die daily; he cherishes more and more of the pilgrim spirit, and in all his plans and prospects he acts continually under the practical influence of the apostle’s appeal (Jas_4:13-15). Ye merchants and busy tradesmen, I ask, is it thus in your case? Is such wise discernment of the shortness of time yours?

4. The wise man’s heart also discerneth the swiftness of time. And thus it is that human life is compared to “a tale that is told,” to “the weaver’s shuttle” flying rapidly across the web.

5. Finally, the Christian discerns that time is a precious talent for which he must give an account.

II. The lessons and duties suggested by the year that is past, and that which has now begun.

1. In a public and national sense this has been a truly memorable year.

2. The past year is memorable in the review of it, in your history as families.

3. How solemn and affecting to you as a congregation is the review of the past year!

III. In reference to the year on which we have now entered, what important duties devolve upon us!

1. Let us never forget that as we live in a world of change, it becomes us to expect changes and trials, and to calculate upon the probability of being called away by death, ere the year has closed.

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2. Let the disciples of the Lord Jesus remember their solemn responsibility to live for the glory of God.

3. Finally, let us unite our prayers with those of the people of God of every name who are met at this season to supplicate, with one accord, the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the Church and the world. (John Weir.)

K&D,"“Whoso remaineth true to the commandment will experience nothing evil; and the heart of the wise man will know a time and judicial decision.” That by מצוה is here to be understood not the commandment of God, at least not immediately, as at Proverbs 19:16 (Ewald), but that of the king, and generally an injunction and appointment of the superior authority, is seen from the context, which treats not of God, but of the ruler over a state. Knobel and others explain: He who observeth the commandment engageth not with an evil thing, and the wise mind knoweth time and right. But ידע is never thus used (the author uses for this, ב עמד), and the same meaning is to be supposed for the repeated ידע: it means to arrive at the knowledge of; in the first instance: to suffer, Ezekiel 25:14; cf. Isaiah 9:8; Hosea 9:7; in the second, to experience, Joshua 24:31; Psalm 16:11. It may also, INDEED, be translated after Ecclesiastes 9:12: a wise heart knoweth time and judgment, viz., that they will not fail; but why should we not render ידע both times fut., since nothing stands in the way? We do not TRANSLATE: a wise heart, a wise mind (Knobel), although this is possible, 1 Kings 3:12 (cf. Psalm 90:12), but: the heart of a wise man, which is made more natural by Ecclesiastes 10:2, Proverbs 16:23. The heart of a wise man, which is not hurried forward by dynastic oppression to a selfish forgetfulness of duty, but in quietness and hope (Lamentations 3:26) awaits the interposition of God, will come to the knowledge that there is an eth, a time, when oppression has an end, and a (mishpat), when it suffers punishment. Well adapted to the sense in which eth is here used is the remark of Elia Levita in his Tishbi, that זמן corresponds to the German Zeit and the Romanic tempo, but עת to the German Ziel and the Romanic termino. The lxx translates καιρὸν κρίσεως ; and, inf act, עת ום is a hendiadys, which, however, consists in the division of one conception into two. The heart of the wise man remaining true to duty will come to learn that there is a terminus and judicial decision, for everything has an end when it falls under the fate for which it is ripe, especially the sinner.

6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man's misery weighs heavily upon him.

BAR�ES, "Because, therefore - , Or, as in Ecc_8:7, “for.”The possibility of God’s time and judgment being in opposition to a king’s purpose or

commandment Ecc_8:5, suggests the thought that such discord is a misery (evil, Ecc_

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6:1) common to man (or, mankind).

CLARK, "To every purpose there is time - chaphets, every volition, every thing חפץthat depends on the will of man. He has generally the opportunity to do whatever he purposes; and as his purposes are frequently evil, his acts are so too: and in consequence his misery is great.

GILL, "Because to every purpose there is time and judgment,.... There is a fit season, and a right and proper manner of doing everything that is to be done; see Ecc_3:1; which a wise man discerns; and which when a man hits upon, it prevents a great deal of mischief, which for want of it comes upon men, as the following clause shows; some refer this to the punishment of the wicked, and to a future judgment. So the Targum,

"to every business there is a time good and evil, and according to the judgment of truth the whole world is judged;''

and to the same purpose Jarchi,

"there is a time fixed for the visitation of the wicked, and there is judgment before the Lord; this is vengeance or punishment;''

therefore the misery of man is great upon him; he not observing the right time and manner of doing what he ought, brings much trouble upon himself; his days are few and full trouble, and every day has a sufficiency of evil in because of the evil of sin, the evil of misery presses upon him, and is a heavy burden on him Jarchi's note is,

"when the wickedness of a man is great, then cometh his visitation.''

HE�RY, "Solomon had said (Ecc_8:5) that a wise man's heart discerns time and judgment, that is, a man's wisdom will go a great way, by the blessing of God, in moral prognostications; but here he shows that few have that wisdom, and that even the wisest may yet be surprised by a calamity which they had not any foresight of, and therefore it is our wisdom to expect and prepare for sudden changes. Observe, 1. All the events concerning us, with the exact time of them, are determined and appointed in the counsel and foreknowledge of God, and all in wisdom: To every purpose there is a time prefixed, and it is the best time, for it is time and judgment, time appointed both in wisdom and righteousness; the appointment is not chargeable with folly or iniquity.

JAMISO�, "therefore the misery, etc.— because the foolish sinner does not think of the right “times” and the “judgment.”

PULPIT, "Because. This and the three following clauses all begin with ki, "since," "for," and the conjunction ought to have been similarly rendered in all the places.

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Thus here, for to every purpose there is time and judgment. Here commences a chain of argument to prove the wisdom of keeping quiet under oppression or evil rulers. Everything has its appointed time of duration, and in due course will be brought to judgment (see Ecc_3:1, Ecc_3:17; 41:14). Therefore (for) the misery of man is great upon him. This is a further reason, but its exact signification is disputed. Literally, the evil of the man is heavy upon him (comp. Ecc_6:1). This may mean, as in the Authorized Version, that the affliction which subjects suffer at the hand of a tyrant becomes insupportable, and calls for and receives God's interposition. Or "the evil" may be the wickedness of the despot, which presses heavily upon him, and under retributive justice will ere long bring him to the ground, and so the oppression will come to an end. This seems to be the most natural interpretation of the passage. The Septuagint, reading differently, has, "For the knowledge of a man is great upon him." Though what tiffs means it is difficult to say.

YOU�G, "Because to every business (of man) there is a proper time, or a limited period, disregard to which causes failure ; and this is followed by the judgment; therefore the misery of man is increased upon him. " It is appointed to all men once to die, and after that the judgment." Man is in misery, because his opportunities are misimproved, and the judgment follows. " If thou hadst known, even thou ; at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace ! — but now they are hid from thine eyes." Luke xix. 42. The verses which follow confirm this interpretation.

COFFMAN, "REGARDING THE PROBLEM OF ANXIETY"For to every purpose there is a time and judgment; because the misery of man is great upon him; for he knoweth not that which shall be; for who can tell how it shall be? There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power over the day of death; and there is no discharge in war; neither shall wickedness deliver him that is given to it."

"The misery of man is great ... for he knoweth not that which shall be" (Ecclesiastes 8:6-7). The misery which is mentioned here is of a particular kind, derived from man's ignorance of the future. This ignorance is summarized in Ecclesiastes 8:8, under four uncertainties. The literal Hebrew for the first clause is, "Man's evil is great upon him."[11] However, there is absolutely nothing in man's ignorance of the future that causes him misery, unless he gives himself over to anxiety and worry because of it.

It is the glory of the New Testament revelation that men are relieved of all considerations that should result in their worrying and anxiety. (Matthew 6:25-34; 1 Peter 5:7). "But Solomon did not know God and did not know the hope that Christians have about the future."[12]

The Christian may face the future with confidence and hope. Oh, to be sure, we do not know what a day may bring forth; but we know Him who does know! Furthermore,

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whatever happens to my loved ones, or my property, or my body, or my country, or anything else, nothing can happen to me! Why? The Christ himself has promised, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world"! (Matthew 28:20).

I know not where his islands lift

Their fronded palms in air;

I only know I cannot drift

Beyond his loving care.[13]

Ecclesiastes 8:6b-7 here are rendered thus: "Although man is greatly troubled by ignorance of the future, who can tell him what it will bring"?[14]

"There is no man that hath power, etc." (Ecclesiastes 8:8). Here are given the four uncertainties mentioned above, the verse means that, "Not even great wealth will enable the wealthy to defy these limitations."[15] No discharge in war regards the uncertainty that threatens one who may be drafted into a war by some absolute monarch. Of course, this is only one of a thousand evil things that might happen to any person. The mention of God in Ecclesiastes 8:13, below, supports the view of Eaton that, "Solomon eventually turns to a POSITION of faith as the only remedy for all the uncertainty."[16]

BENSON, "Ecclesiastes 8:6-7. Because to every purpose there is a time, &c. — There is a fit way and season for the accomplishment of every BUSINESS, which is known to God, but for the most part hidden from man. See notes on Ecclesiastes 3:1. Therefore the misery of man is great — Because there are few who have wisdom to discern this, most men expose themselves to manifold miseries. For he knoweth not that which shall be —Men are generally ignorant of future EVENTS, and of the success of their endeavours, and therefore their minds are disquieted, and their expectations frequently are disappointed, and they fall into many mistakes and miscarriages, which they might prevent if they foresaw the issues of things; who can tell when it shall be? — No wise man, no astrologer, no soothsayer can discover this.

K&D, "“For there is a time and decision for everything, for the wickedness of man becomes too great.” From Ecclesiastes 8:6 there follow four clauses with כי; by such monotonous repetition of one and the same word, the author also elsewhere renders the exposition difficult, affording too free a space for understanding the כי as CONFIRMING, or as hypothetical, and for co-ordinating or subordinating to each other the clauses with כי. Presupposing the CORRECTNESS of our exposition of Ecclesiastes 8:5 , the clause Ecclesiastes 8:6 with כי may be rendered parenthetically, and that with כי in Ecclesiastes 8:6 hypothetically: “an end and decision the heart of the wise man will come to experience (because for everything there is an end and decision), supposing that the wickedness of man has become great upon him, i.e., his burden of guilt has reached its full measure.” We suppose thereby (1) that בה, which appears from the accent on the ult. to be an adj., can also be the 3rd pret., since before ע the tone has gone back to áh (cf. Genesis 26:10; Isaiah 11:1), to protect it from being put aside; but generally the accenting

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of such forms of עע hovers between the penult. and the ult., e.g., Psalm 69:5; Psalm 55:22; Proverbs 14:19. Then (2) that עליו goes back to האדם without distinction of persons, which has a support in Ecclesiastes 6:1, and that thus a great רעה is meant lying upon man, which finally finds its punishment. But this view of the relation of the clauses fails, in that it affords no connection for Ecclesiastes 8:7. It appears to be best to co-ordinate all the four כי as members of one chain of proof, which reaches its point in Ecclesiastes 8:8 , viz., in the following manner: the heart of a wise man will see the time and the judgment of the ruler, laying to his heart the temptation to rebellion; for (1) as the author has already said, Ecclesiastes 3:17: “God will judge the righteous as well as the wicked, for there is with Him a time for every purpose and for every act;” (2) the wickedness of man (by which, as Ecclesiastes 3:9 shows, despots are aimed at) which he has committed, becomes great upon him, so that suddenly at once the judgment of God will break in upon him; (3) he knows not what will be done; (4) no one can tell him how (quomodo) it, the future, will be, so that he might in any way anticipate it - the judgment will overwhelm him unexpectedly and irretrievably: wickedness does not save its possessor.

7 Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?

BAR�ES, "When - Or, as in the margin. For the meaning of this verse, compare marginal references.

GILL, "For he knoweth not that which shall be,.... Or that "it shall be" (b); that he ever shall have the opportunity again he has lost, nor what is to come hereafter; what shall be on the morrow, or what shall befall him in the remaining part of his days; what troubles and sorrows he shall meet with, or what will be the case and circumstances of his family after his death;

for who can tell him when it shall be? or "how it shall be" (c)? how it will be with him or his; no one that pretends to judicial astrology, or to the art of divination, or any such devices, can tell him what is to come; future things are only certainly known by God; none but he can tell what will certainly come to pass; see Ecc_3:22; Jarchi interprets it of a man's not considering for what God will bring him to judgment, and that no man can tell him the vengeance and punishment that will be inflicted.

HE�RY, "We are very much in the dark concerning future events and the time and season of them: Man knows not that which shall be himself; and who can tell him whenor how it shall be? Ecc_8:7. It cannot either be foreseen by him or foretold him; the stars cannot foretel a man what shall be, nor any of the arts of divination. God has, in wisdom, concealed from us the knowledge of future events, that we may be always ready for

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changes. 3. It is our great unhappiness and misery that, because we cannot foresee an evil, we know not how to avoid it, or guard against it, and, because we are not aware of the proper successful season of actions, therefore we lose our opportunities and miss our way: Because to every purpose there is but one way, one method, one proper opportunity, therefore the misery of man is great upon him; because it is so hard to hit that, and it is a thousand to one but he misses it. Most of the miseries men labour under would have been prevented if they could have been foreseen and the happy time discovered to avoid them. Men are miserable because they are not sufficiently sagacious and attentive.

JAMISO�, "he— the sinner, by neglecting times (for example, “the accepted time,and the day of salvation, 2Co_6:2), is taken by surprise by the judgment (Ecc_3:22; Ecc_6:12; Ecc_9:12). The godly wise observe the due times of things (Ecc_3:1), and so, looking for the judgment, are not taken by surprise, though not knowing the precise “when” (1Th_5:2-4); they “know the time” to all saving purposes (Rom_13:11).

PULPIT, "For he knoweth not that which shall be. The subject may be man in general, or more probably the evil tyrant. The clause contains a third reason for patience. The despot cannot foresee the future, and goes on blindly filling up the measure of his iniquity, being unable to take any precautions against his inevitable fate (Pro_24:22). Quem Deus vult perdere prius dementat. For who can tell him when it shall be? rather, how it shall be. The fourth portion of the argument. The infatuated man knows not the time when the blow will fall, nor, as here, the manner in which the retribution will come, the form which it will take. Septuagint," For how it shall be, who will tell him?" The Vulgate paraphrases inaccurately, Quia ignorat prae-terita, et futura nullo scire potest nuntio, "Because he knoweth not the past, and the future he can ascertain by no messenger."

PULPIT 7-9, "The sorrowful tale of man's misery upon the earth.

I. �O K�OWLEDGE OF THE FUTURE. �either himself can foresee, nor can any one inform him, either what shall be or how it shall be. Man's acquaintance with the future amounts at best to a "perhaps."

II. �O EXEMPTIO� FROM DEATH. This great truth stated in a threefold form.

1. �o man can retain his spirit, or hold it back, when the hour strikes for it to be breathed forth, any more than he can hold back the winds of heaven when the moment has arrived for them to blow.

2. �o man has power over the day of his dearly, to defer it, to remove it to a dim and distant future, or to hasten it to bring it near, any more than he has power over the day of his birth. His times both of coming into and of going out from the world are in God's hand.

3. �o man can procure a discharge from the war with the king of terrors, either for himself or another, any more than a conscript could escape the battle when drawn

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for service by an Oriental despot. All without exception must go forth to the final conflict (Heb_9:27).

III. �O ESCAPE FROM RETRIBUTIO�. The wicked may hope that in some way or other it may be possible for them to evade the due reward of their transgressions; but such hope is taken from them by the fact that God will one day bring every secret thing into judgment, whether it has been good, or whether it has been evil (Ecc_12:14).

IV. �O IMMU�ITY FROM OPPRESSIO�. Though it cannot be affirmed that all are oppressed—else where were the oppressors?—yet it cannot be guaranteed beforehand that any one will not be oppressed, since "there is a time wherein one man hath power over another to his hurt" (Est_8:9).


1. Leave the future with God, and live in the present.

2. Prepare for that day which will come on all like a thief in the night.

3. So live that the recompense of the future will be that which belongs to righteousness.

4. Avoid being an oppressor, and rather be oppressed.

K&D, "Verse 7-8Ecclesiastes 8:7 and Ecclesiastes 8:8 thus CONTINUE the For and For: “For he knoweth not that which shall be; for who can tell him who it will be? There is no man who has power over the wind, to restrain the wind; and no one has authority over the day of death; and there is no discharge in the war; and wickedness does not save its possessor.” The actor has the sin upon himself, and bears it; if it reaches the terminus of full measure, it suddenly overwhelms him in punishment, and the too great burden oppresses its bearer (Hitzig, under Isaiah 24:20). This עת ומש comes unforeseen, for he (the man who heaps up sins) knoweth not id quod fiet; it arrives unforeseen, for quomodo fiet, who can show it to him? Thus, e.g., the tyrant knows not that he will die by assassination, and no one can say to him how that will happen, so that he might make ARRANGEMENTS for his protection. Rightly the lxx κατηὼς ἔσται ; on the contrary, the Targ., Hitzig, and Ginsburg: when it will be;

(Note: The Venet. ἐν ω , as if the text had באשר.)

but כאשר signifies quum, Ecclesiastes 5:1; Ecclesiastes 5:3; Ecclesiastes 8:16, but not quando, which must be expressed by מתי (Mishnic אימת, אימתי ).

Now follows the concluding thought of the four כי, whereby Ecclesiastes 8:5 is established. There are four impossibilities enumerated; the fourth is the point of the enumeration constructed in the form of a numerical proverb. (1) No man has power over

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the wind, to CHECK the wind. Ewald, Hengst., Zöckl., and others understand רוח, with the Targ., Jerome, and Luther, of the Spirit (חיים( tir רוח); but man can limit this physically when he puts a violent termination to life, and must restrain it morally by ruling it, Proverbs 16:32; Proverbs 25:28. On the contrary, the wind hrwch is, after Ecclesiastes 11:5, incalculable, and to rule over it is the exclusive prerogative of Divine Omnipotence, Proverbs 30:4. The transition to the second impossibility is mediated by this, that in רוח, ACCORDING to the usus loq., the ideas of the breath of animal life, and of wind as the breath as it were of the life of the whole of nature, are interwoven. (2) No one has power over the day of death: death, viz., natural death, comes to a man without his being able to see it before, to determine it, or to change it. With שליט there here interchanges שלטון, which is rendered by the lxx and Venet. as abstr., also by the Syr. But as at Daniel 3:2, so also above at Ecclesiastes 8:4, it is concr., and will be so also in the passage before us, as generally in the Talm. and Midrash, in contradistinction to the abstr., which is שלטן, after the forms דרבן, אבדן , etc., e.g., Bereshith rabba, c. 85 extr.: “Every king and ruler שלטון who had not a שולטן, a command (government, sway) in the land, said that that did not satisfy him, the king of Babylon had to place an under-Caesar in Jericho,” etc.

NOTE: Regarding the distinction between שלטון and שלטן, vid., Baer's Abodath Jisrael, p. 385.)

Thus: no man possesses rule or is a ruler … .

A transition is made from the inevitable law of death to the inexorable severity of the law of war; (3) there is no discharge, no dispensation, whether for a time merely (missio), or a full discharge (dimissio), in war, which in its fearful rigour (vid., on the contrary, Deuteronomy 20:5-8) was the Persian law. Even so, every possibility of escape is cut off by the law of the divine requital; (4) wickedness will not save (מלט, causative, as always) its lord (cf. the proverb: “Unfaithfulness strikes its own master”) or possessor; i.e., the wicked person, when the עת ום comes, is hopelessly lost. Grätz would adopt the reading is certainly that to which the ,רשע or of the ,רשע בעל but the fate of the ;רשע instead of עשרconcatenation of thought from Ecclesiastes 8:6 leads, as also the disjunctive accent at the end of the three first clauses of Ecclesiastes 8:8 denotes. But that in the words בעל רשע(not בעלי) a despotic king is thought of (בעליו, as at Ecclesiastes 5:10, Ecclesiastes 5:12; Ecclesiastes 7:12; Proverbs 3:27; cf. under Proverbs 1:19), is placed beyond a doubt by the epilogistic verse:

8 �o man has power over the wind to contain it [1] ; so no one has power over the day of his death. As no one is discharged in time of war, so wickedness will not release those who practice it.

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BAR�ES, "Neither hath he power - Rather: “and there is no power.” Compare Ecc_3:19.

No discharge ... - i. e., “No exemption from the final hour of struggle between life and death.”

Wickedness - Though the life of the wicked may be prolonged Ecc_7:15, yet wickedness itself has no inherent power to prolong that life.

CLARK, "There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit - The Chaldee has, “There is no man who can rule over the spirit of the breath, so as to prevent the animal life from leaving the body of man.” Others translate to this sense: “No man hath power over the wind to restrain the wind; and none has power over death to restrain him; and when a man engages as a soldier, he cannot be discharged from the war till it is ended; and by wickedness no man shall be delivered from any evil.” Taking it in this way, these are maxims which contain self-evident truths. Others suppose the verse to refer to the king who tyrannizes over and oppresses his people. He shall also account to God for his actions; he shall die, and he cannot prevent it; and when he is judged, his wickedness cannot deliver him.

GILL, "There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit,.... Which is not to be understood of the wind, which the word used sometimes signifies, and of men's having no power to restrain that, or hinder it from blowing; for to what purpose should Solomon mention this? rather it may be considered as a check upon despotic and arbitrary princes not to stretch their power too far; since they had none over the spirits or minds of men, and could not hinder them from thinking ill of them, and wishing ill to them, nor restrain their hatred of them; whatever power they had or exercised over their bodies and estates, they had none over their spirits, or their consciences; no lawful power to restrain them from their to God, nor to oblige them to do that which he has forbidden; nor to compel them to anything against conscience; nor to bind their consciences in matters indifferent: or as an argument with subjects to obey the commands of their sovereign; since it is not in their power to restrain the spirit and wrath of princes, which is as the roaring of a lion, and as: he messengers of death, Pro_16:14; particularly to be careful that they do not commit any capital offence, for which sentence may be passed to take away life; when it will not be in their power to retain it; nor rescue themselves out of the hands of justice and the civil magistrate, but must submit. Or else it is to be understood of every man's spirit at the hour of death, and of the unavoidableness of it, as the next clause explains it; and by "spirit" is meant, either the sensitive soul, the same with the spirit of a beast, without which the body is dead, and is like the wind that passeth away, and ceaseth when the breath is stopped; or the rational soul, the spirit that is committed to God, and returns to him at death, Luk_23:43. This a man has not power over to dismiss or retain at pleasure; he cannot keep it one moment longer when it is called for and required by the Father of spirits, the Creator of it; he has not power "to restrain" (d) it, as in a prison, as the word signifies, as Alshech observes; whence Aben Ezra says, that the spirit or soul in the body is like a prisoner in a prison; but nothing, that attends a man in this life, or he is in possession of, can keep the soul in this prison, when the time of its departure is come; not riches, nor honours, nor

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wisdom and leaning, nor strength and youth, nor all the force of medicine; the time is fixed, it is the appointment of God, the bounds set by him cannot be passed, Ecc_3:2, Job_14:5. The Targum is,

"no man has power over the spirit of the soul to restrain the soul of life, that it might not cease from the body of man;''

and to the same sense Jarchi,

"to restrain the spirit in his body, that the angel of death should not take him;''

neither hath he power in the day of death; or "dominion" (e); death strips a man of all power and authority, the power that the husband has over the wife, or parents over their children, or the master over his servant, or the king over his subjects; death puts down all power and authority: it is an observation of Jarchi's, that David after he came to the throne is everywhere called King David, but, when he came to die, only David, 1Ki_2:1; no king nor ruler can stand against death any more than a beggar; up man is lord of death any more than of life, but death is lord of all; all must and do submit to it, high and low, rich and poor; there is a day fixed for it, and that day can never be adjourned, or put off to another; and as man has not power to deliver himself in the day of death, so neither his friend, as the Targum, nor any relation whatever;

and there is no discharge in that war; death is a warfare as well as life, with which nature struggles, but in vain; it is an enemy, and the last that shall be destroyed; it is a king, and a very powerful one; there is no withstanding him, he is always victorious; and there is no escaping the battle with him, or fleeing from him; a discharge of soldiers in other wars is sometimes obtained by interest, by the entreaty of friends, or by money; but here all cries and entreaties signify nothing; nor does he value riches, gold, or all the forces of strength; see 2Sa_12:18; under the old law, if a person had built a new house, or married a wife, or was faint hearted, he was excused and dismissed; but none of these things are of any avail in this war, Deu_20:5; captives taken in war are sometimes dismissed by their conquerors, or they find ways and means to make their escape; but nothing of this kind can be done when death has seized on the persons of men. Some render it, there is "no sending to" or "in that war" (f); there is no sending forces against death to withstand him, it is to no purpose; there is no sending a message to him to sue for a peace, truce, or reprieve; he will hearken to nothing; there is no sending one in the room of another, as Jarchi observes,

"a man cannot say, I will send my son, or my servant;''

no surrogation is allowed of in this case, as David wished for, 2Sa_18:33. Aben Ezra interprets it, no armour, and so many interpreters; and so the Targum;

"nor do instruments of armour help in war;''

in this war: in other wars a man may put on a helmet of brass and a coat of mail, to protect and defend him, or throw darts and arrows; but these signify nothing when death makes his approach and attack;

neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it; or "the masters of it" (g); that is, from death; neither Satan the wicked one, as Jerom, who is wickedness itself,

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and with whom wicked men are confederate, can deliver them from death; nor sinners the most abandoned deliver themselves, who have made a covenant with it, and an agreement with hell, Isa_28:15; such who are masters of the greatest wicked craft and cunning, and who devise many ways to escape other things, can contrive none to escape death; nor will riches gotten by wickedness deliver the owners of them from death; see Pro_10:2; This sense is mentioned by Aben Ezra, and not to be despised.

HE�RY, "Whatever other evils may be avoided, we are all under a fatal necessity of dying, Ecc_8:8. (1.) When the soul is required it must be resigned, and it is to no purpose to dispute it, either by arms or arguments, by ourselves, or by any friend: There is no man that has power over his own spirit, to retain it, when it is summoned to return to God who gave it. It cannot fly any where out of the jurisdiction of death, nor find any place where its writs do not run. It cannot abscond so as to escape death's eye, though it is hidden from the eyes of all living. A man has no power to adjourn the day of his death, nor can he by prayers or bribes obtain a reprieve; no bail will be taken, no essoine [excuse], protection, or imparlance [conference], allowed. We have not power over the spirit of a friend, to retain that; the prince, with all his authority, cannot prolong the life of the most valuable of his subjects, nor the physician with his medicines and methods, nor the soldier with his force, not the orator with his eloquence, nor the best saint with his intercessions. The stroke of death can by no means be put by when our days are determined and the hour appointed us has come. (2.) Death is an enemy that we must all enter the lists with, sooner or later: There is no discharge in that war,no dismission from it, either of the men of business or of the faint-hearted, as there was among the Jews, Deu_20:5, Deu_20:8. While we live we are struggling with death, and we shall never put off the harness till we put off the body, never obtain a discharge till death has obtained the mastery; the youngest is not released as a fresh-water soldier, nor the oldest as miles emeritus - a soldier whose merits have entitled him to a discharge.Death is a battle that must be fought, There is no sending to that war (so some read it), no substituting another to muster for us, no champion admitted to fight for us; we must ourselves engage, and are concerned to provide accordingly, as for a battle. (3.) Men's wickedness, by which they often evade or outface the justice of the prince, cannot secure them from the arrest of death, nor can the most obstinate sinner harden his heart against those terrors. Though he strengthen himself ever so much in his wickedness(Psa_52:7), death will be too strong for him. The most subtle wickedness cannot outwit death, nor the most impudent wickedness outbrave death. Nay, the wickedness which men give themselves to will be so far from delivering them from death that it will deliver them up to death.

JAMISO�, "spirit— “breath of life” (Ecc_3:19), as the words following require. Not “wind,” as Weiss thinks (Pro_30:4). This verse naturally follows the subject of “times” and “judgment” (Ecc_8:6, Ecc_8:7).

discharge— alluding to the liability to military service of all above twenty years old (Num_1:3), yet many were exempted (Deu_20:5-8). But in that war (death) there is no exemption.

those ... given to— literally, the master of it. Wickedness can get money for the sinner, but cannot deliver him from the death, temporal and eternal, which is its penalty (Isa_28:15, Isa_28:18).

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PULPIT, "This verse gives the conclusion of the line of argument which confirms the last clause of Ecc_8:5. There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit. If we take "spirit" in the sense of "the breath of life," explaining the clause to mean that the mightiest despot has no power to retain life when his call comes, we have the same thought repeated virtually in the next clause. It is therefore bettor to take ruach in the sense of "wind" (Gen_8:1). �o one can control the course of the wind or know its way (comp. Ecc_11:5, where the same ambiguity exists; Pro_30:4). Koheleth gives here four impossibilities which point to the conclusion already given. The first is man's inability to check the viewless wind or to know whence it comes or whither it goes (Joh_3:8). Equally impotent is the tyrant to influence the drift of events that is bearing him on to his end. God's judgments are often likened to a wind (see Isa_41:16; Wis. 4:4; 5:23). �either hath he power in the day of death; rather, over the day of death. The second impossibility concerns the averting the hour of death. Whether it comes by sickness, or accident, or design, the despot must succumb; he can neither foresee nor ward it off (1Sa_26:10, "The Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall go down into battle, and perish;" Ecclesiasticus 14:12, "Remember that death will not be long in coming, and that the covenant of the grave is not showed unto thee"). And there is no discharge in that war. The word rendered "discharge" (mishlachath) is found elsewhere only in Psa_78:49, where it is translated "sending," "mission," or "band." The Septuagint here has ἀποατολή ; the Vulgate �ec sinitur quiescere ingruente bello. The Authorized Version is doubtless correct, though there is no need to insert the pronoun "that." The severity of the law of military service is considered analogously with the inexorable law of death. The Hebrew enactment (Deu_20:5-8) allowed exemption in certain cases; but the Persian rule was inflexibly rigid, permitting no furlough or evasion during an expedition. Thus we read that when (Eobazus, the father of three sons, petitioned Darius to leave him one at home, the tyrant replied that he would leave him all three, and had them put to death. Again, Pythius, a Lydian, asking Xerxes to exempt his eldest son from accompanying the army to Greece, was reviled by the monarch in unmeasured terms, and was punished for his presumption by seeing his son slain before his eyes, the body divided into two pieces, and placed on either side of the road by which the army passed, that all might be warned of the fate awaiting any attempt to evade military service (Herod; 4.84; 7.35). The passage in the text has a bearing on the authorship and date of our book, is as seems most probable, the reference is to the cruel discipline of Persia. This is the third impossibility; the fourth follows. �either shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it; its lord and master. Septuagint, τὸν παρ αὐτῆς , "its votary." Ginsburg translates resha "cunning;" but this seems foreign to the sentiment, which is concerned with the despot's impiety, injustice, and general wickedness, not with the means by which he endeavors to escape the reward of his deeds. The fact is, no evil despot, however reckless and imperious, can go long unpunished. He may say in his heart, "There is no God," or, "God hideth his face, and sees him not," but certain retribution awaits him, and may not be avoided. Says the gnome—

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Ἄγει τὸ θεῖον τοὺς κακοὺς πρὸς τὴν δίκνη .

"Heaven drives the evil always unto judgment"

YOU�G, "�o man hath power to keep his spirit from leaving the body when the hour of death arrives. " There is an ap-pointed time to man upon the earth." The spirit must then go to God.

The soldier sometimes gets a discharge, and escapes the conflict. But in the war with death there is no discharge. The battle must be fought. Wickedness shall not deliver its lord. But there is One who can give victory. " Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ."


L If earthly rulers are to he obeyed, in view of their power and our safety ; how much more is our heavenly Ruler to be obeyed for the same reasons !

All things are under the control of law. For matter there are what we call the laics of nature. So uniform are they that it is considered miraculous when they are suspended. Some of these laws are still hidden, notwith-standing the onward rapid march of science. But could we enter into the secret springs of all motion and life, we should discover that all are under law — God working out his own mysterious purposes.

For rational and intelligent beings there are other laws of vast moment. There are moral, mental, civil, and ecclesiastical laws ; — some directly from God, — others through the agency of his creatures.

What laws there may be for angels, it is not necessary for us to know. But they too are under government, and will be judged. God is the author of civil government, and we should be obedient because he is. " The powers that be are ordained of God, wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake." It will be a heaven on earth when every child is dutiful, —every citizen obedient, — every inferior respectful ; and all in authority just and good like their heavenly Ruler. On the other hand nothing is worse than anarchy ! — Ambitious

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men plotting and overturning their government ; — no con-trol in the state, in the church, in the family ; — every man's life insecure, because there is no law. The heart sickens at the contemplation.

Obedience to God is more essential still, in view of his authority and our safety. " There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save, and to destroy." James iv. 12. God made known his law on mount Sinai amid thunders, and light-nings, and earthquakes, and fire, and darkness ! And if God was so terrible in givinor his law, what will he be in judging us for transgressing it? Then the people were terrified with the voices, and smoke, and sounding of the trumpet. But what will be the consternation of that day " when the Lord shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God !" �ot mount Sinai only, but the world shall be in flames. The heavens shall be wrapped together as a scroll. God's voice shall be heard calling, ^^ Awake, ye dead, and come to judgment /" Countless millions will stand before the great Judge, not to receive a law, but to hear a sen-tence. Then the sorrows of the disobedient will be^in, not to end ! But tliis Lawgiver is " able to save !" " Bless the Lord, O my soul," for salvation ! He " is able to save ?o the uttermost !" He is willing ! �ow he waits to be gracious. In the confidence of faith let us commit all, now, and for ever, into those hands that fashioned the heavens ; and into that heart that beats with unchangeable love.

H. Death is an enemy that we must all encounter ; and either conquer or be conquered by him. " There is no dis-charge in that war." The soldier goes forth to do battle for his country. With strong arm and brave heart, he is prepared to execute the will of his commander. But he may never be brought into the mortal strife. He may be discharged ere he hear the trlimpet calling him to the fray. Peace may be proclaimed ere he have a chance to show his prowess. �ot so in this dread encounter with death. Face to face we must all stand before this hideous foe, and feel his cold steel penetrating our vitals. We shrink back ; it may be we ask to be discharged. But the conflict must come sooner or later. If we get a furlough, it is but for a season, when we must return and meet the foe. �o age nor condition is exempt. Friends cannot rescue us; — phy-sicians cannot. The rich and the powerful must come to the encounter, as well as the poor and helpless. Ward-

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law says, " The power that sways millions with a nod, fails here. The wealth that procures for its owner all that his heart can wish, fails here. The might of the warrior, which has slain his thousands, and which no human arm could withstand, fails here. The most earnest desire of life, and the tears, and the wailings, and the fond caresses of disconsolate affection — all fail here." Of all the hun-dreds of millions that have lived before us, only two were ever discharged. Enoch and Elijah were spared the en-counter, by an honourable discharge. Jesus alone had power to waive the conflict ; and he would not. He was the true volunteer. " �o man," he said, " taketh my life from me ; — but I lay it down of myself I have power to lay it down; and I have power to take it again." John x. 18. Others are hke drafted soldiers — they are not gen-erally volunteers. They enter the conflict because they must enter it. And yet by divine grace multitudes enter it cheerfully — joyfully.

In this battle we must conquer or be conquered. If we fight the battle alone, unaided by our glorious Leader, we shall be utterly conquered. Sin will sting and pierce our souls with mortal power. " The sting of death is sin." The law will clamour for justice. Conscience will lash the soul with scorpion terror. Vengeance will destroy. We must have help, or we are undone. But if the Cap-tain of our salvation lead us, we shall rejoice in a glorious victory. We shall shout, " O death, where is thy sting ? O grave, where is thy victory ? Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ." Stephen thus conquered when the rough stones were man-ghng his flesh and breaking his bones. With a face radi-ant with glory, like the face of an angel, he gazed into the very heaven of heavens, and "saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing " to receive him. And his prayer was, " Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

Polycarp prayed, or rather praised, as his persecutors were about to light the fire to consume his body ; " I praise thee that thou hast judged me worthy of this day and hour, to take part in the number of thy witnesses, in the cup of Christ " Jerome, of Prague, sang hymns in going to the place of execution ; and asked that the fire might be kindled before his eyes rather than behind him. The last words that he sang, as the fire consumed his body, were :

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"This soul in flames, I oiFer, Christ, to thee !"

Lawrence Saunders embraced and kissed the stake, say-ing, " Welcome the cross of Christ, welcome everlasting life." And thousands as brave as they have fought the good fight, and laid hold on eternal life. Lord, give us grace to suffer, and then give us glory ! Amen.

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR, "There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit.

Death an unpreventable exit of the spirit

1. It is implied that man has a spirit.

2. Man’s power over his spirit is not absolute.

He has some power over it; power to excite it to action, direct its thoughts, control its impulses, train its faculties, and develop its wonderful resources. Self-government is the duty of every man. But whatever the amount of power he may have over his spirit, he is utterly unable to “retain” it here, to keep it in permanent connection with the body. From this fact I deduce three practical lessons.

I. We should take proper care of this “spirit” while we have it with us.

II. We should keep this “spirit” ever in readiness for its exit. It requires to have its errors corrected, its guilt removed, its pollutions cleansed away.

III. Efforts for the permanent entertainment of this “spirit” here are to the last degree unwise. What are men doing here? On all hands they are endeavouring to provide for their spirits a permanent entertainment. “Soul, thou hast much goods,” etc. “Wherefore do ye spend your labour for that which satisfieth not?” (Homilist.)

The uncertainty of life

Autumn, with its tinted leaves, its slanting shadows, and brief sunshine, points out the same truth as the text. Man is powerless—much as he might wish it—to check the fast falling shower of faded foliage, or to throw back the shadows of the sundial. The fortune of the world could not procure a moment’s respite from that silent and regular work of decay which is going on in the surrounding world. So, likewise, “No man hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit.” Each one of us must gradually pass away from the visible universe. When that solemn moment arrives, there will be those who would long to retain us by their side—those who have yet to learn that the “communion of saints” is not broken by the accident of death. And yet it cannot be; we must let go our hold of the departing soul. Others will long and vainly struggle to remain behind themselves. As we contemplate the prospect of death, a new stimulus should be given to duty and action. For it has been well said, “Duty is done with all energy then only when we feel ‘the night cometh when no man can work’ in all its force.” Let me lead your thoughts then for a brief space in this direction. “Redeem the time.” This is the precept, the echo of a past inspiration, which the Holy Spirit of God would still sound in our ears as we look forward to the termination of present life. Spend the life in earnest, and as if the whole future depended upon it. Spend to-day as if there were no certain to-morrow. Be watchful about little things, and especially the brief moments of time. The few pence and

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the fragments of food have their value. (A. WilIiamson, M. A.)

There is no discharge in that war.—

The battle of life

The leaves are always falling from the forest trees in autumn-time. Unheard, unnoticed, they flutter every morning to the ground, but anon there is a crash in the forest as a giant tree, decayed, comes headlong to the earth, and the winds that helped to bring it down seem to moan among the trees that still stand firm. “Howl, fir-tree, for the cedar has fallen.” Sometimes even the falling of a leaf is noticed, if it happens to tumble down exactly at one’s feet, or even the falling of a little branch or twig will startle one, should it chance to light upon one’s head or hand. It is even so with mortals in the matter of death.

I. There is no “casting off” of weapons in the war. In every other war there is, for one or other of the contending parties obtains a return in triumph, a blowing of the trumpet and a beating of the drums, an unharnessing of armour and a laying by of sword and spear and shield, a tide of congratulations flowing in from king or queen, and from a grateful country that has been delivered from impending danger. “But,” says the Preacher, “there is no casting off of weapons in that war.” It must be fought out to the bitter end, it must be waged till the vanquished combatant at last surrenders at discretion to the Black Prince of death. The struggle begins at birth. What tussles the infants have for life! Have we not seen them from their earliest breath fighting with the dragon that, as it were, waited for their birth? Fight, little stranger, fight! Fight thou must if thou wouldest live at all, for there are, even in thy weakest days, a thousand enemies who fain would drain thy life away! Moreover, the fight is specially fierce at times. When sickness threatens, and disease invades, and when we are called to pass through places specially unwholesome, or to engage in occupations peculiarly perilous, oh, how hot the battle then becomes.

II. Another rendering of this remarkable expression will give us this idea, there is no “casting off” weapons in that war. By this, I understand that there is not in any mortal hand a weapon, of whatsoever a description, that is likely to avail against this king of fears. You know how it is in the present day with the art of war, as some are pleased to call it. If one man invents a gun of special calibre, or a bullet of peculiarly penetrating powers, another forthwith invents an armour that resists them both; this has no parallel in the matter of life and death. There can be found for death’s shot and shell no armour that can resist it. Goliath’s spear, though it be like a weaver’s beam, will not defend him from the stroke of death; Saul’s javelin, though he aim it better than when he cast it at active David, is not likely to pin death to the wall; and the gilded sword of bribery, with its jewelled hilt, is vain against this adversary. Elizabeth exclaimed, “All my possessions for a moment of time!” but there was no casting of the weapons in that war, even for the virgin queen. We are virtually defence-less. “It is appointed unto man to die.”

III. Yet, again, there is this rendering of the passage. “there is no sending of a substitute in that war,” I believe that the conscription, where it obtains, allows for substitution; that one may, at least on certain conditions, send another in his place to serve his country; but there is no such provision here. There is, indeed, the possibility of one taking another’s place temporarily. A brave miner, for instance, has said to another in equal peril with himself, “Only one of us can get out of this: you may go, and I will die.” “Death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” If this be true, is it not very

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marvellous how unconcerned most are! It was enjoined upon the ancient Thebans that before they erected a house they should build a sepulchre in its neighbourhood, and the Egyptians were wise enough to bring round at their feasts an image of death, that the guests might be reminded of their mortality. “Ponder, O man, eternity,” for “there is no sending of a substitute in that war.”

IV. There is no exemption from fighting in this battle—no excuse from joining in this campaign. We all are hastening to the bourne from which no traveller returns. You know that in the days of Moses there were certain exemptions and excuses in connection with the military service. Such was the mercy of God that He arranged that, if a man had built a new house, he was not called to take up arms, he must go and dedicate it. After the house-warming he might go to the battle, but not before. Or if one had planted a vineyard, he should wait till he had eaten of it: lest another should reap the result of his labours. ‘Twas the same with the newly-married man; and for the faint-hearted there was this kind provision made, that they should go back to their homes; not, indeed, so much for their own sakes, aa lest their brethren should become faint-hearted too. There are no such considerations in this case: there cannot be. I heard only last week of one who was married for two short days, and was taken under heartrending circumstances from his bride. We sometimes talk about sudden death, and it is awfully sudden for those who are looking on and living still, but I believe there should be no such thing as sudden death to any who know the power of death and the certainty of it. (T. Spurgeon.)

Christian life-service

I would use our text as an illustration of the Christian life and the Christian’s life allegiance: “There is no discharge in that war.”

I. So runs the summons. Now, this Book of God is full of sentences which bind the conscience of every believer, and compel an irrevocable self-consecration. But, aside from all the direct expressions of Scripture, is the spirit of the Christ life to which we are conformed, commanding in the consecration which it exhibits and influences. Oh, how soon the soldier comes to mirror his captain! There was somewhat of Napoleon in every member of the Old Guard—somewhat of his fortitude, his steadfastness, his untiring perseverance, whatsoever might be the harassing or hindering circumstances of the march. Even so does he who has given his pledge to Christ, and who persistently avows his relationship to Him, come to receive somewhat of the spirit of Christ and His constancy of devotion. There are no vacations, there are no furloughs, there are no personal interests. “If any man will come after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me”—day by day, year by year, even unto the end—saith the Lord who hath redeemed us.

II. But beyond the summons, “There is no discharge in that war,” so gladly responds the soldier. There is no joy like that of those who go forth to those daily battles against sin in the name of the God of Israel. Their battle songs would befit a banquet, and their triumph of spirit is a presage and earnest of their triumph of possession.

1. Gratitude inspires consecration. “There is no discharge in that war,” responds the soldier gladly. “What shall I render unto the Lord?” is the constant self-inquiry. Such a grateful soul is covetous most of all of opportunities. He does not check the calls upon him for exertion. He seeks everywhere for occasions to manifest the love which swells and rules within him.

2. But hope expects coronation! It is the mainspring of the wheel. It is the life-preserver on the tide. It is the double wing of the soul in its effort to rise above the

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things restraining and hindering it. And every believer responds, “There is no discharge in that war”: I want none; for hope expects coronation. It is not presumptuous hope, because it is founded upon the purposes of the Word of God.

III. So requires the service. Thus does our Divine Saviour sum up the work He does for us, in us, and by us. That which He makes the great impulse of our hearts is also a necessity of our work.

1. We have the conflict with evil about us. John Wesley’s old motto is the grand talisman of success: “We are all at it; we are always at it.” Such steadfastness in Christian example and influence is that for which the times most imperatively cry.

2. But beyond that there is the conquest of sin in thine own soul to which thou art called; for “better is he that ruleth his own spirit than he that taketh a city.” Time after time God’s people are tempted to return to the city from which they have set out, and there is that within them which is constantly hinting, suggesting, constraining them to return. Now, if thou art to meet this, thou must battle by little and by little. Character is not built up in a day; it is a very slow process, even as God changes the contour of the earth. No volcanic action in the sudden manifestation of power is to be expected. No man grows instantly very good or very bad. By steps we descend, and by steps we ascend in our tendency towards God. But there is never a time when we outgrow this necessity of conflict in this world. (S. H. Tyng, D. D.)

BENSON, "Ecclesiastes 8:8. No man hath power over the spirit — That is, over the soul of man; to retain the spirit — To keep it in the body beyond the time which God hath allotted to it. This is added as another evidence of man’s misery. Neither hath he power in the day of death — Or, against the day, that is, to avoid, or delay that day; and there is no discharge — As there is in other wars; in that war — In that fatal conflict between life and death, when a man is struggling with death, though to no purpose, for death will be always conqueror. Neither shall wickedness deliver, &c. — And although wicked men, who most fear death, use all possible means to FREE themselves from it, yet they shall not escape it. The most subtle wickedness cannot out-wit death, nor the most daring wickedness out-brave it.

HAWKER, "There is no man that hath power over the 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.

It were devoutly to be prayed for, that the very solemn truth contained in this verse, was so solemnly considered by an unthinking world. As no man dies by proxy, but each for himself, as it is appointed unto men once to die; oh! that the sure judgment that follows, were duly thought of, and as earnestly provided for! Reader! have you solemnly; seriously, deliberately considered this? How are you provided? To die Christless; is to die hopeless. Have you pondered over the awful state of unpardoned sin? Have you considered the preciousness of Christ, and his blood? Think, my brother, solemnly think, of these things. Remember what the wise man here saith, That there is no discharge in that war. Oh! for grace to live Christ, that we may die in Christ. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord. Rev_14:13.

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9 All this I saw, as I applied my mind to everything done under the sun. There is a time when a man lords it over others to his own [2] hurt.

BAR�ES, "To his own hurt - Or, “to the hurt of the subject.” The case is still that of an unwise king whose command is obeyed Ecc_8:2 even to the hurt of the wise man who obeys him.

CLARK, "One man ruleth over another to his own hurt - This may be spoken of rulers generally, who, instead of feeding, fleece the flock; tyrants and oppressors, who come to an untimely end by their mismanagement of the offices of the state. All these things relate to Asiatic despots, and have ever been more applicable to them than to any other sovereigns in the world. They were despotic; they still are so.

GILL, "All this have I seen,.... Observed, taken notice of, and thoroughly considered; all that is said above, concerning the scarcity of good men and women, the fall of our first parents, the excellency of wisdom, the necessity and advantage of keeping the king's commandment, the time and manner of doing it, the evil consequences that follow an inattention to these things, ignorance of what is to come, and the unavoidableness of death;

and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun; not so much to mechanic works and manual operations performed by men, as to moral or immoral works, and chiefly the work of Providence with respect to good and bad men, the consequence of which were the following observations;

there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt; or "the man ruleth over men" (h); for this is not to be understood of private rule in families, of the parent over his children, or master over his servant, but of a king over his subjects; who is the man, the principal man in the kingdom; and such a man ruling in an arbitrary and tyrannical way is to his own detriment in the issue. So Rehoboam; by his oppressive government, lost ten tribes out of twelve. Some have lost their whole kingdoms, and come to an untimely end; as well as ruined their immortal souls. Some render it "to his hurt" (i); to the hurt of those that are ruled, when it should be for their good, the protection of their persons and properties; but instead of that they lay heavy burdens upon them, take away their property, and injure and insult their persons. So the Targum,

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"to do ill to him.''

But Jarchi interprets it of the king himself. Some take it in both senses; and so it is usually in fact, that wicked princes rule to their own hurt, and the hurt of their subjects.

HE�RY, "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, Ecc_3:16; Ecc_4:1.

1. He had observed many such rulers, Ecc_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 (Rom_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.

JAMISO�, "his own hurt— The tyrannical ruler “hurts” not merely his subjects, but himself; so Rehoboam (1Ki_12:1-33); but the “time” of “hurt” chiefly refers to eternal ruin, incurred by “wickedness,” at “the day of death” (Ecc_8:8), and the “time” of “judgment” (Ecc_8:6; Pro_8:36).

PULPIT, "All this have I seen (Ecc_5:18; Ecc_7:23); i.e. all that has been mentioned in the preceding eight verses, especially the conviction of retributive justice. He gained this experience by giving his mind to the consideration of men's actions. There is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt. This version is certainly incorrect. A new sentence is not commenced here, but the clause is closely connected with what precedes; and "his own hurt" should he "his [equivocally] hurt." Thus Wright and Volck: "All this have I seen, even by applying my heart to all the work that is done under the sun, at a time when man ruleth over man to his hurt." Most modern commentators consider that the hurt is that of the oppressed subject; but it is possible that the sense is intentionally ambiguous, and the injury may be that which the despot inflicts, and that which he has to suffer. Both these have been signified above. There is no valid reason for making, as Cox does, this last clause commence Ecc_8:10, and rendering, "But there is a time when a man ruleth over men to their hurt."

YOU�G, "Archbishop Whately' and others argue that the doc-trine of immortality is not taught in the Old Testament. But this is one among the many striking evidences of the blindness of men. Certainly the doctrine of immortalityIs taught in almost every book of the Bible. Did Moses

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live and die without a hope of heaven '' When God said to him, " I am the God of Abraham," did not Moses un-derstand it as Jesus did, that Abraham was then living ? —that God asserted that he was the God of a living man ? Had David no faith in a future life when he said, " Thou shalt lead me by thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory ?" Did not Job know that in his flesh (after worms should devour his body) he should see God ? So in these verses a future state is kept in view.

In pursuing his investigations of life's advantages, Solo-mon looked at it in all its aspects. He would naturally ask if there were any advantage in power and authority. Here he tells us the result of his inquiry. The ruler often ruled " to his ow?i hurtJ^ And indeed nothing is more common. Even good rulers often have so great an amount of care and perplexity, that life becomes a burden, and the heart is crushed. Authority is good only as a means of usefulness. But if there is no future state, bet-ter would it be to spare one's self the trouble and perplex-ity. Bad rulers, however, are especially intended.

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR, "All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun.

The contemplation of human life

The writer means, by “applying his heart,” the exercise of his attention and his judgment. He observed, thought, and formed opinions on the works of men spread over the earth. We are placed in a very busy world, full of “works,” transactions, events, varieties of human character and action. We witness them—hear of them—think of them—talk of them. Now, it is a matter of great importance that we should do this wisely, so as be turn these things to a profitable account. In the first place, if this attention to the actions and events of the world be employed merely in the way of amusement, there will be little good. It is so with many. They have no fixed, serious interest and purpose to occupy their minds; no grand home-business within their own spirits. Yet they must have something to keep their faculties in a pleasant activity, or cull it play. The mind, therefore, flies out as naturally and eagerly as a bird would from an opened cage. The attention rambles hither and thither, with light momentary notices of things; great and small;—here, there or yonder; it is all one; “welcome!” and “begone!” to each in turn. Now, how useless is such a manner of “applying the heart”! But there may be another manner much worse than useless. For attention may be exercised on the actions, characters and events among mankind in the direct service of the evil passions; in the disposition of a savage beast, or an evil spirit; in a keen watchfulness to descry weakness, in order to make a prey of it:—in an attentive observation of mistake, ignorance, carelessness, or untoward accidents,-in order to seize, with remorseless selfishness, unjust advantages;—in a penetrating inquisition into men’s conduct and character in order to blast them; or (in a lighter mood) to turn them indiscriminately to ridicule. Or there may be such an exercise in the temper of envy, jealousy or revenge; or (somewhat more excusably, but still mischievously) for the purpose of exalting the

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observer in his own estimation. But there would be no end of describing the useless and pernicious modes of doing that which our text expresses. Let us try to form some notion of what would be the right one. In doing so there is one most important consideration to be kept in mind; that is, the necessity of having just principles or rules to be applied in our observation of the world. With the aid of these we are to look on this busy mingled scene of all kinds of actions and events. And we might specify two or three chief points of view in which we should exercise this attention and judgment. And the grand primary reference with which we survey the world of human action should be to God; we should not be in this respect “without God in the world.” We are exercising our little faculty on the scene; let us recollect One whose intelligence pervades it all, and is perfect in every point of it! Let us think, again, while we are judging He is judging! “There is at this instant a perfected estimate in an unseen mind of this that I am thinking how to estimate!—if that judgment could lighten on me, and on its subject!” Our minds, also, should be habituated, in looking at this world of actions, to recognize the Divine government over it all; to reflect that there is one sovereign, comprehensive scheme, proceeding on, to which they are all in subordination. Again, our exercise of observation and judgment on men’s actions should have a reference to the object of forming a true estimate of human nature. How idle to be indulging in speculative and visionary theories about this in the midst of a world of facts! In connection with this, we may add that the observant judgment of the actions of mankind should have some reference to the illustration and confirmation of religious truths. These truths may thus be embodied, as it were, in a substantial form of evidence and importance. We may just name, for instance, the doctrine of the fall and the depravity of man. Look, and impartially judge, whether “the works done under the sun” afford any evidence on that subject! The necessity of the conversion of the soul. For whence does all the evil in action come from? Is the heart becoming drained into purity by so much evil having come from it? Alas! there is a perennial fountain, unless a Divine hand close it. We may name the doctrine of a great intermediate appointment for the pardon of sin—its pardon through a propitiation, an atonement. We look at the life of a sinner, a numerous train of sins. Think intently on the malignant nature of sin; and, if there be truth in God, it is inexpressibly odious to Him; then if, nevertheless, such sinners are to be pardoned, does it not eminently comport with the Divine holiness—is it not due to it—that in the very medium of their pardon, there should be some signal and awful fact of a judicial and penal kind to record and render memorable for ever a righteous God’s judgment, estimate, of that which He pardons? The necessity of the operating influence of a Divine Spirit is also illustrated. A faithful corrective reference to ourselves in our observation of others is a point of duty almost too plain to need mentioning. The observation should constantly turn into reflection, which yet it is very unapt to do, except when self-complacency can be gratified. Might we suggest one other point of reference in our looking on the actions of men, namely the comparison and the difference between what men are doing “under the sun,” and what they will all, ere long, be doing somewhere else? Think of all that have done all “the works under the sun,” ever since that luminary began to shine on this world,—now in action in some other regions! Think of all those whose actions we have beheld and judged—those recently departed—our own personal friends! Have not they a scene of amazing novelty and change; while yet there is a relation, a connecting quality between their actions before and now. Lastly, our exercise of attention and judgment on “every work that is done under the sun” should be under the habitual recollection that soon we shall cease to look on them; and that, instead, we shall be witnessing their consequences; and in a mighty experience also, ourselves, of consequences. This thought will enforce upon us incessantly, that all our observation should be most diligently turned to the account of true wisdom and our own highest

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improvement. (J. Foster.)

HAWKER, "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.

Reader, have you never seen what Solomon here saith he saw? If not, I have. How many indeed have mine eyes beheld of such men. They lived, they triumphed, they came and went amidst the throng of worshippers; they had their day of sensual enjoyments: and oh! what a day it was! And now, where are they? They are as much forgotten as though they had never been: their very memorial is perished with them. Oh! for grace so to live to Jesus, that in his book of life our names may he had in everlasting remembrance! Reader, pray read that solemn passage, Rev_19:11-15.

SBC, "Ecclesiastes 8:9

The writer of these words means by "applying his heart" the exercise of his attention and his judgment. He was a general observer, with an exercise of his judgment. The Holy Scriptures plainly encourage an exercise of thoughtful attention on the actions and characters of men, and the course of the world’s events. But now comes the question as to the proper manner of doing this, so that it may really be beneficial.

I. If this attention to the actions and events of the world be employed merely in the way of amusement, there will be little good.

II. It is necessary to have just principles or rules to be applied in our observation of the world. And in this matter the most fatal error is to take from the world itself our principles for judging the world. They must be taken absolutely from the Divine authority, and always kept true to the dictates of that.

III. Notice two or three points of view or general references in which we should exercise this attention and judgment. (1) The grand primary reference with which we survey the world of human action should be to God. (2) Our observation should have reference to the object of forming a true estimate of human nature. (3) It should have reference to the illustration and confirmation of religious truths. (4) A faithful corrective reference to ourselves in our observation of others is a point of duty almost too plain to need mentioning. (5) Our exercise of attention and judgment on "every work that is done under the sun "should be under the habitual recollection that soon we shall cease to look on them; and that instead we shall be witnessing their consequences, and in a mighty experience also ourselves of consequences.

J. Foster, Lectures, 2nd series, p. 16.


"All this have I seen and APPLIED my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time when one man hath power over another to his hurt. So I saw the wicked buried, and they came to the grave; and they that had done right went away from the holy place, and were forgotten in the city: this also is vanity. Because sentence against an

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evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is full set in them to do evil. Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and prolong his days, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, that fear before him: 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."

"When one man hath power over another to his hurt" (Ecclesiastes 8:9). An alternate reading here from the margin (American Standard Version) reads the last two words here as his own hurt. Hendry, however, disagreed with this, "It means to the hurt of the ruled, not that of the ruler."[18] Loader also AGREED that, "The people in power used their power to hurt others."[19] We should ignore the marginal reading.

"So I saw the wicked buried ... etc." (Ecclesiastes 8:10). "The precise meaning of this verse cannot now be recovered."[20] One may find several pages of discussions in C. F. Keil, Keil-Delitzsch's Old Testament Commentaries regarding the various possible meanings; but the various translations indicate that no certainty EXISTS. Here is an example:

"Then I saw wicked men borne to their tombs, and as men returned from the sacred place, they were praised in the very city where they had acted so. This too is futility."[21] "Any restoration of Ecclesiastes 8:10 remains doubtful."[22]

Fleming's comment on this was, "It is difficult to see any principle of justice operating in the world. The wicked remain unpunished; and even after they are dead and buried people still praise them in the very city where they did their evil."[23] We might add that, "This is par for the course; it goes on all the time."

"Because sentence is not executed against an evil work speedily ... the heart of men ... is set ... to do evil" (Ecclesiastes 8:11). This is an eternal principle of righteous government that wrongdoers should be punished quickly; and this verse indicates that failure to obey this principle has the effect of encouraging evil. In AMERICA today, we see how true this is. The average time required to execute sentence upon a vicious murderer runs into many years, sometimes exceeding a whole decade.

We like this TRANSLATION: "Because the sentence for wrongdoing is not quickly executed, that is why men's minds are filled with thoughts of doing evil."[24]

"It shall be well with them that fear God ... it shall not be well with the wicked" (Ecclesiastes 8:12-13). It is amazing that some scholars try to find a `scandal' in the Word of God. Look at this:

"Here is a clear affirmation of the `scandal' given by the success and prosperity of the wrongdoer: `the sinner does evil a hundred times and survives.' But this is immediately

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followed by another affirmation that seems to DENY it and that seems to side with the traditional optimism of the sages that God will judge the wicked."[25]

We have read a hundred similar exclamations by scholars who seem to think that there is something inconsistent with the occasional success and prosperity of a grossly wicked man and the untimely end of some righteous person, as being in some manner contradictory to the blessed promises in the word of God (not merely the wisdom of the sages) that the Lord blesses the righteous and punishes the wicked. Ridiculous! both in the Book of Job, and in the previous chapter here, we have CONTINUALLY pointed out that this is exactly what should be expected in a world rushing headlong in rebellion against God.

What is written here is exactly the way it is. Yes, sinners prolong their days in prosperity; but it is still true that it shall be well with the righteous and it shall not be well with the wicked. But, of course, Roland E. Murphy `fixed' this `scandal' by calling the statements that it should be well with the righteous and not well with the wicked as, "an addition by a later hand."[26]

In this passage, it is clear enough that the author (Solomon), "Knows the general rule that those who fear God will fare well and live long, and that those who do not fear God will not (Ecclesiastes 8:12-13); but he also knows cases that do not conform to the general rule; and for that reason he calls it all vanity."[27] Solomon was dead wrong in this. Any vanity and vexation that derive from such exceptions to God's will should not be directed against God, as it appears that Solomon might have been tempted to do. It should be directed against man's rebellious wickedness against God's rule. In that alone is the true explanation of the exceptions and the cause of them. The rebellion of Adam's race against God is the full and sufficient explanation of our evil world and its wallowing in its own miseries.

Solomon's false view here that "all is vanity," was due solely to his blindness to the reality and consequences of sin. Fleming NOTED that, "The traditional teaching did not satisfy him, ... that it made `no sense."'[28] This was not due to anything that Solomon ever saw on earth that was any different from that which he should have expected, but solely to his having turned away from God's Word.

BENSON, "Ecclesiastes 8:9-10. All this I have seen — All these things before mentioned; and APPLIED my heart unto every work — I have been a diligent observer of all actions and events. There is a time when one man ruleth, &c. — There are some kings, who use their power tyrannically, whereby they not only oppress their people, but hurt themselves, bringing the vengeance of God upon their own heads. And so I saw — In like manner; the wicked — Wicked princes or rulers, buried — With state or pomp; who had come and gone — Had administered public justice, which is frequently signified by the phrase of coming in and going out before the people; from the place of the holy — The seat of majesty and judgment, which may well be termed, the place, or seat, of the holy —That is, of God, often called the holy one; who is in a SPECIAL manner present in, and presides over those places where justice is administered: and for whom, and in whose

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name and stead, magistrates act, who, therefore, are called gods. And the tribunal seems to be so called here, to aggravate their sin, who, being advanced by God into so high and sacred a place, betrayed so great a trust, and both practised and encouraged that wickedness which, by their office, they were obliged to suppress and punish. And they were forgotten — Although they designed to perpetuate their names and memories to succeeding ages; in the city where they had so done — Where they had lived in great splendour, and were buried with great magnificence, which one might have thought would have kept up their remembrance, at least, in that place. This is also vanity — That men should so earnestly thirst after, and please themselves with worldly glory, which is so SOON extinct, and the very memory of which is so quickly worn out of the minds of men

K&D, "“All that I have seen, and that, too, directing my heart to all the labour that is done under the sun: to the time when a man rules over a man to his hurt.” The relation of the clauses is mistaken by Jerome, Luther, Hengst., Vaih., Ginsburg, and others, who BEGIN a new clause with עת: “there is a time,” etc.; and Zöckl., who ventures to interpret The clause .(”every work that is done under the sun“) 4ל־מע וגו as epexegetical of עת וגו is an adverbial subordinate clause (vid., under Ecclesiastes 4:2): et advertendo ונתוןquidem animum. עת is accus. of time, as at Jeremiah 51:33; cf. Psalm 4:8, the relation of ('eth asher), like L מק, Ecclesiastes 1:7; Ecclesiastes 11:3. All that, viz., the wisdom of patient fidelity to duty, the perniciousness of revolutionary selfishness, and the suddenness with which the judgment comes, he has seen (for he observed the actions done under the sun), with his own eyes, at the time when man ruled over man לו לרע, not: to his own the ruler's injury (Symm., Jerome), but: to the injury (lxx, Theod., τοῦ κακῶσαι αὐτόν , and thus also the Targ. and Syr.) of this second man; for after ('eth asher), a description and not a judgment was to be expected. The man who rules over man to the hurt of the latter rules as a tyrant; and this whole section, beginning with Ecclesiastes 8:1, treats of the right wisdom of life at a time of tyrannical government.

10 Then too, I saw the wicked buried-those who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise [3]in the city where they did this. This too is meaningless.

BAR�ES, "i. e., “I saw wicked (rulers) buried, who came into the world and went from the Holy place (the seat of authority and justice, Deu_19:17; 2Ch_19:6), and they were forgotten in the city where they had so ruled to the hurt of their subjects: this -their death and oblivion - shews their lot also to be vanity.” Others interpret the verse: “I have seen wicked men buried; and (others) came into the world, and from the Holy place they went out of the world, and were forgotten in the city where they had done rightly”

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(compare 2Ki_7:9).

CLARK, "Who had come and gone from the place of the holy - The place of the holy is the sacred office which they held, anointed either as kings or priests to God; and, not having fulfilled the holy office in a holy way, have been carried to their graves without lamentation, and lie among the dead without remembrance.

GILL, "And so I saw the wicked buried,.... Or "truly" (k), verily, as the Targum, this is matter of fact; or "then I saw", as Aben Ezra and others, upon applying his heart to every work; or when be observed particularly wicked magistrates, he took notice that some of them continued in their power until death, and died in their beds, and were carried to their graves in great pomp and state, and interred in a very magnificent manner, when they deserved no burial at all, but, as King Jeconiah, to be buried with the burial of an ass;

who had come and gone from the place of the holy; which most understand of the same persons, of wicked magistrates buried, who kept their posts of honour and places of power and authority as long as they lived; and went to and came from the courts of judicature and tribunals of justice, in great state and splendour; where they presided as God's vicegerents, and therefore called the place of the holy, Psa_82:1; or though they were sometimes deposed, yet they were restored again to their former dignity; or though they died and were buried, yet in a sense rose again in their children that succeeded them, so Aben Ezra: but it seems better to understated it of other persons, and render the, words thus, "and they came, and from the place of the holy", or "the holy place they walked" (l); that is, multitudes came to attend the funeral of such rich and mighty men, and walked after or followed the corpse; and ever, the priests and Levites from the temple made a part of the funeral procession, and walked in great solemnity from thence to the place of interment, which was usually without the city;

and they were forgotten in the city where they had done; all their evil deeds were forgotten, their acts of oppression and injustice, as if they had never been done by them. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions are, "and they were praised in the city"; panegyrics upon them were written and rehearsed, monuments were erected to their honour, with large encomiums of them; and so it may be read by the change of a letter; and Jarchi says, do not read "forgotten", but "praised"; and so he says it is interpreted by their Rabbins. The whole may be considered in a very different view thus "but then I saw", &c. such arbitrary rulers die, and laid in the grave, one after another, and their names have been buried in oblivion, and never remembered more in the city where they have exercised so much power and authority. The latter part of the text is by many understood of good men, and rendered thus, "and" or "but on the contrary they were forgotten in the city where they had done right" (m); their persons and their good deeds were remembered no more; but this seems contrary to Psa_112:6. The Targum paraphrases the whole thus;

"and in truth I have seen sinners that are buried and destroyed out of the world, from the holy place where the righteous dwell, who go to be burned in hell; and they are forgotten among the inhabitants of the city; and as they have done, it is done to them;''

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this is also vanity; the pompous funeral of such wicked magistrates.

HE�RY, "He had observed them to prosper and flourish in the abuse of their power (Ecc_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, Deu_1:17, and he judges among the gods,Psa_82:1, and is with them in the judgment, 2Ch_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, Psa_49:17. (2.) Nor their names from being buried in oblivion; for they were forgotten, as if they had never been.

JAMISO�, "the wicked— namely, rulers (Ecc_8:9).buried— with funeral pomp by man, though little meriting it (Jer_22:19); but this

only formed the more awful contrast to their death, temporal and eternal, inflicted by God (Luk_16:22, Luk_16:23).

come and gone from the place of the holy— went to and came from the place of judicature, where they sat as God’s representatives (Psa_82:1-6), with pomp [Holden]. Weiss translates, “Buried and gone (utterly), even from the holy place they departed.” As Joab, by Solomon’s command, was sent to the grave from the “holy place” in the temple,which was not a sanctuary to murderers (Exo_21:14; 1Ki_2:28, 1Ki_2:31). The use of the very word “bury” there makes this view likely; still “who had come and gone” may be retained. Joab came to the altar, but had to go from it; so the “wicked rulers” (Ecc_8:9) (including high priests) came to, and went from, the temple, on occasions of solemn worship, but did not thereby escape their doom.

forgotten— (Pro_10:7).

YOU�G, "This verse may refer to wicked rulers, who had de-

parted this life. �ot only was there no profit to them in

life, but there was no advantage afterward. They were

buried as others, buried after being in honour — in the

place of the holy ; nay, forgotten as unworthy of a place

in the affections of the living. There is a chmax here :

first, in the place of honour — then dead — buried — forgot-


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The " place of the holy " is the court, senate, or sanctu-

ary. All these should be considered holy places. There

may here be an allusion to iii. 16, where wickedness was

in the place of judgment, and iniquity in the place ol

righteousness. Alas, too often has the senate decreed

wickedness, and the bench pronounced unrighteously.

But those who have so done have gone from the place of

the holy, and perished in name — in estate — in person.

" I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading

himself like a green bay-tree. Yet he passed away, and

lo, he was not : yea, I sought him, but he could not be

found." Ps. xxxvii. 35, 36.

PULPIT, "And so ( åÌáÀëÅï ); then, in like manner, under the same circumstances (Est_4:16). The writer notes some apparent exceptions to the law of retribution of which he has just been speaking, the double particle at the beginning of the verse implying the connection with the preceding statement. I saw the wicked buried. "The wicked" are especially the despots (Ecc_8:9). These are carried to their graves with every outward honor and respect, like the rich man in the parable, who "died, and was buried" (Luk_16:22). Such men, if they had received their due reward, far from having a pompous and magnificent funeral (which would befit only a good and honored life), would have been buried with the burial of an ass (comp. Isa_14:19; Jer_22:19). So far the Authorized Version is undeniably correct. What follows is as certainly inaccurate as it is unintelligible. Who had come and gone from the place of the holy; literally, and they came, and from the place of the holy they went. The first verb seems to mean, "they came to their rest," they died a natural death. The words, in themselves ambiguous, are explained by the connection in which they stand (comp. Isa_57:2). Wright renders, "they came into being," and explains it with the following clause, "they went away from the holy place," as one generation coming and another going, in constant succession. But if, as we suppose, the paragraph applies to the despot, such an interpretation is unsuitable. Cox's idea, that oppressive despots "come again" in the persons of their wicked children, is wholly unsupported by the text. The verse admits and has received a dozen explanations differing more or less from one another. A good deal depends upon the manner in which the succeeding clause is translated, And they were forgotten in the city where they had so done. As the particle rendered "so" (ken) may also mean "well," "rightly," we get the rendering, "even such as acted justly," and thus introduce a contrast between the fate of the wicked man who is honored with a sumptuous funeral, and that of the righteous whose name is cast out as pollution and soon forgotten. So Cheyne ('Job and Solomon') gives, "And in accordance with this I have seen ungodly men honored, and that too in the holy place (the temple, Isa_18:7), but those who had acted rightly had to depart, and were forgotten in the

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city." Against this interpretation, which has been adopted by many, it may reasonably be urged that in the same verse ken would hardly be used in two different senses, and that there is nothing in the text to indicate a change of subject. It seems to me that the whole verse applies to the wicked man. He dies in peace, he leaves the holy place; the evil that he has done is forgotten in the very city where he had so done, i.e. done wickedly. "The place of the holy" is Jerusalem (Isa_48:2; Mat_27:53) or the temple (Mat_24:15). He is removed by death from that spot, the very name of which ought to have cried shame on his crimes and impiety. The expression seems to picture a great procession of priests and Levites accompanying the corpse of the deceased tyrant to the place of burial, while the final clause implies that no long lamentation was made over him, no monument erected to his memory (see the opposite of this in the treatment of Josiah, 2Ch_35:24, 2Ch_35:25). They who consider "the righteous " to be the subject of the last clauses see in the words, "from the holy place they departed," an intimation that these were excommunicated from the synagogue or temple, or banished from the promised land, on account of their opinions. I would translate the passage thus: In like manner have I seen the wicked buried, and they came to their rest, and they went from the holy place, and were forgotten in the city where they had so (wickedly) acted. The versions have followed various readings. Thus the Septuagint: "And then I saw the impious brought unto graves, and from the holy place; and they departed and were praised in the city, because they had so done;" Vulgate, "I have seen the impious buried, who also, while they still lived, were in the holy place, and were praised in the city as if men of just doings." Commenting oh this version, St. Gregory writes, "The very tranquility of the peace of the Church conceals many under the Christian name who are beset with the plague of their own wickedness. But if a light breath of persecution strikes them, it sweeps them away at once as chaff from the threshing-floor. But some persons wish to bear the mark of Christian calling, because, since the name of Christ has been exalted on high, nearly all persons now look to appear faithful, and from seeing others called thus, they are ashamed not to seem faithful themselves; but they neglect to be that which they beast of being called. For they assume the reality of inward excellence, to adorn their outward appearance; and they who stand before the heavenly Judge, naked from the unbelief of their heart, are clothed, in the sight of men, with a holy profession, at least in words" ('Moral.,' 25:26). This is also vanity. The old refrain recurs to the writer as he thinks on the prosperity of the wicked, and the conclusions which infidels draw therefrom. Here is another example of the vanity that prevails in all earthly circumstances.

PULPIT, "Before, at, and after death; or, the wicked and the good-a contrast.

I. BEFORE DEATH. In the character of their lives. Each lives and acts in accordance with his character of soul.

1. The wicked acts wickedly. Spends his days

(1) without religion, having no fear of God before his eyes (Psa_36:1; Rom_3:18);

(2) without morality, taking pleasure in disobedience to God's Law (Eph_2:2; Eph_

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(3) and without hope (Eph_2:12), having no happy outlook beyond the grave.

2. The righteous acts rightly.

(1) Worshipping in the temple of the holy;

(2) learning in the school of the holy;

(3) walking in the ways of the holy; and

(4) cherishing the hopes of the holy. These different characteristics belong to the wicked and the righteous in all ranks and classes of society.

II. AT DEATH. In the style of their funerals. Both come to the grave, the house appointed for all the living (Job_30:23), like Dives and Lazarus (Luk_16:22); perhaps after having lived respectively as these did—the wicked clothing themselves in fine linen and faring sumptuously every day; the good lying in rags and sores at the rich man's gate, and feeding on the crumbs from the rich man's table. But from this point their paths and experiences diverge.

1. The wicked have a burial. They are borne to the place of sepulture with pomp and pageantry, and in presence of assembled crowds are committed to the dust. Wealth and honor wait upon them to their last resting-places, and do the utmost to provide quiet and peaceful couches for their lifeless corpses. Oftentimes, if not always, is this the fortune of the ungodly who have defied the Almighty, despised religion, insulted morality, and yet increased in riches and grown great in power.

2. The good simply go away. They vanish from the scene of their sufferings and labors, no one knows when or how. Whether they nave a funeral no one cares. Certainly their departure is not marked by long trains of mourners going about the streets. Their obsequies, conducted by angels, are not observed by the passing crowds of busy men on earth. This also is a frequent lot of good men at death, though it must not be assumed that good men are never carried to their graves amid lamentations and tears (2Ch_24:16; Act_8:2).

III. AFTER DEATH. In the treatment of their memories. Both pass into the unseen, and have no more knowledge of what transpires on this side the veil. But their lots upon the other side are frequently as different from each other as before.

1. The wicked are remembered. Forgotten, it may be, and forsaken by God, but not by men who admired their splendor, and perhaps envied or feared their greatness when living.

2. The good are forgotten. Remembered indeed by God, but not by men, who suffer their names to pass into oblivion; as saith the poet—

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"The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interred with their bones."

('Julius Caesar,' act 3. sc. 2.)


1. Study to live well by acting well.

2. Seek a lodging for thy soul when it must leave thy body.

3. Commit the care of thy memory to God and good men.

4. Envy neither the present nor the future lot of the wicked.

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR, "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.

The wicked man’s life, funeral and epitaph

I. In the first place, here is some good company for you; some with whom you may walk to the house of God, for it is said of them that they did come and go from the place of the holy. By this, I think we may understand the place where the righteous meet to worship God. God’s house may be called “the place of the holy.” Still, if we confine ourselves strictly to the Hebrew, and to the connection, it appears that by the “place of the holy” is intended the judgment-seat—the place where the magistrate dispenses justice; and, alas I there be some wicked who come and go even to the place of judgment to judge their fellow-sinners. And we may with equal propriety consider it in a third sense to represent the pulpit, which should be “the place of the holy”: but we have seen the wicked come and go even from the pulpit, though God has never commanded them to declare his statutes. Happy the day when all such persons shall be purged from the pulpit; then shall it stand forth “clear as the sun, fair as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners.” “I have seen the wicked come and go from the place of the holy.”

II. And now we are going to his funeral. I shall want you to attend it. There is a man who has come and gone from the place of the holy. He has made a very blazing profession. He has been a county magistrate. Now, do you see what a stir is made about his poor bones? There is the hearse covered with plumes, and there follows a long string of carriages. The country people stare to see such a long train of carriages coming to follow one poor worm to its resting-place. What pomp! what grandeur! Will you just think of it, and who are they mourning for? A hypocrite! Who is all this pomp for? For one who was a wicked man; a man who made a pretension of religion; a man who judged others, and who ought to have been condemned himself. But possibly I may have seen the wicked man buried in a more quiet way. He is taken quietly to his tomb with as little pomp as possible, and he is with all decency and solemnity interred in the grave. And now listen to the minister. If he is a man of God, when he buries such a man as he ought to be buried, you do not hear a solitary word about the character of the deceased; you hear nothing at all about any hopes of everlasting life. He is put into his grave. As for the

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pompous funeral, that was ludicrous. A man might almost laugh to see the folly of honouring the man who deserved to be dishonoured, but as for the still and silent and truthful funeral, how sad it is! We ought to judge ourselves very much in the light of our funerals. That is the way we judge other things. Look at your fields to-morrow. There is the flaunting poppy, and there by the hedge-rows are many flowers that lift their heads to the sun. Judging them by their leaf, you might prefer them to the sober-coloured wheat. But wait until the funeral when the poppy shall be gathered and the weeds shall be bound up in a bundle to be burned—gathered into a heap in the field to be consumed, to be made into manure for the soil. But see the funeral of the wheat. What a magnificent funeral has the wheat-sheaf. “Harvest home” is shouted as it is carried to the garner, for it is a precious thing. Even so let each of us so live, as considering that we must die. But there is a sad thing yet to come. We must look a little deeper than the mere ceremonial of the burial, and we shall see that there is a great deal more in some people’s coffins besides their corpses. If we had eyes to see invisible things, and we could break the lid of the hypocrite’s coffin, we should see a great deal there. There lie all his hopes. The wicked man may come and go from the place of the holy, but he has no hope of being saved. He thought, because he had attended the place of the holy regularly, therefore he was safe for another world. There lie his hopes, and they are to be buried with him. Of all the frightful things that a man can look upon, the face of a dead hope is the most horrible. Wrapt in the same shroud, there lie all his dead pretensions. When he was here he made a pretension of being respectable; there lies his respect, he shall be a hissing and a reproach lev ever. But there is one thing that sleeps with him in his coffin that he had set his heart upon. He had set his heart upon being known after he was gone. He thought surely after he had departed this life he would be handed down to posterity and be remembered. Now read the text—“And they were forgotten in the city where they had so done.” There is his hope of fame. I have often noticed how soon wicked things die when the man dies who originated them. Look at Voltaire’s philosophy; with all the noise it made in his time—where is it now? There is just a little of it lingering, but it seems to have gone. And there was Tom Paine, who did his best to write his name in letters of damnation, and one would think he might have been remembered. Butt who cares for him now? Except amongst a few, here and there, his name has passed away. And all the names of error, and heresy, and schism, where do they go? You hear about St. Austin to this day, but you never hear about the heretics he attacked. Everybody knows about Athanasius, and how he stood up for the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ; but we have almost forgotten the life of Arius, and scarcely ever think of those men who aided and abetted him in his folly. Bad men die out quickly, for the world feels it is a good thing to be rid of them; they are not worth remembering. But the death of a good man, the man who was sincerely a Christian—how different is that! And when you see the body of a saint, if he has served God with all his might, how sweet it is to look upon him—ah, and to look upon his coffin too, or upon his tomb in after years!

III. We are to write his epitaph; and his epitaph is contained in these short words: “this also is vanity.” And now in a few words I will endeavour to show that it is vanity for a man to come and go from the house of God, and yet have no true religion. Why, although you must deplore a wicked man’s wickedness as a fearful crime, yet there is some kind of respect to be paid to the man who is downright honest in it; but not an atom of respect to the man who wants to be a cant and a hypocrite. (C.H. Spurgeon.)

The funeral of the wicked

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I. Wicked men buried.

1. A truly sad scene. Wicked men going to their graves, their probation over, the means of improvement ended.

2. A common scene. Death does not wait for a man’s repentance.

II. Who were once in connection with religious ordinances. “Who had come and gone from the place of the holy.” This suggests:—

1. The religious craving of human nature. The soul everywhere is restless for a God. All feel the want, whatever their character.

2. The power of man to resist Divine impressions.

3. The surest way to contract guilt. “it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha,” etc.

4. There is no necessary power in religious means to improve men.

III. Passing from the memory of the living. There is a greater tendency in the living to forget the wicked than the good. It is true that some giants of depravity have stamped their impress on the heart of ages; such as Nero, Caligula, Napoleon, etc.; but the great mass of wicked men sink into oblivion, whilst the “righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.” What are the powers of mind that prompt men to remember the departed?

1. Gratitude is a commemorative power. Men instinctively remember the good, but what benefits have the wicked wrought?

2. Love is a commemorative power. Those who have had power to draw out the esteem and admiration of the soul will not easily, if ever, fade from the memory. The mystic hand of love will hold them close to the heart. But who can love in a moral sense the wicked?

3. Hope is a commemorative power. Those from whom we anticipate good we do not easily forget. What good can be anticipated from the wicked? Future meetings, should they ever take place, will be very fearful things. (Homilist.)

K&D, "“And then I have seen the wicked buried, and they came to rest; but away from the holy place they had to depart, and were forgotten in the city, such as acted justly: also this is vain.” The double particle בכן signifies, in such a manner, or under such circumstances; with “I have seen” following, it may introduce an observation coming under that which precedes (בכן = Mishnic בכך), or, with the force of the Lat. inde, introduce a further observation of that ruler; this temporal signification “then” (= אז), ACCORDING to which we have TRANSLATED, it has in the Targ. (vid., Levy's W.B.).

(Note: Cf. 2,וכן Chronicles 32:31; Ewald, §354a; Baer's Abodath Jisrael, pp. 384, 386.)

Apparently the observation has two different classes of men in view, and refers to their fate, contradicting, according to appearance, the rectitude of God. Opposite to the רש(“the wicked”) stand they who are described as וגו אשר: they who have practised what is rightly directed, what stands in a right relation (vid., regarding כן, as noun, under Proverbs 11:19), have brought the morally right into practice, i.e., have acted with fidelity and

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honour (כן עשה, as at 2 Kings 7:9). Koheleth has seen the wicked buried; ראה is followed by the PARTICIP. as predic. obj., as is שמע, Ecclesiastes 7:21; but קבורים is not followed by ובאים (which, besides not being distinct enough as part. perfecti, would be, as at Nehemiah 13:22, part. praes.), but, according to the favourite transition of the particip. into the finite, Gesen. §134. 2, by ובאו, not ובאו; for the disjunctive Rebîa has the fuller form with waa; cf. Isaiah 45:20 with Job 17:10, and above, at Ecclesiastes 2:23. “To ENTER in” is here, after Isaiah 47:2, = to enter into peace, come to rest.

(Note: Cf. Zunz, Zur Gesch. u. Literatur, pp. 356-359.)

That what follows ומם does not relate to the wicked, has been mistaken by the lxx, Aquila, Symm., Theod., and Jerome, who translate by ἐπῃνήθησαν , laudabantur, and thus read ישתבחו (the Hithpa., Psalm 106:47, in the pass. sense), a word which is used in the Talm. and Midrash along with שתכחו.

(Note: The Midrash Tanchuma, Par. יתרו, init., uses both expressions; the Talm. Gittin 56b, APPLIESthe passage to Titus, who took away the furniture of the temple to magnify himself therewith in his city.)

The latter, testified to by the Targ. and Syr., is without doubt the CORRECT reading: the structure of the antithetical parallel members is chiastic; the naming of the persons in 1a a precedes that which is declared, and in 1a bit follows it; cf. Psalm 70:5 , Psalm 75:9 . The fut. forms here gain, by the retrospective perfects going before, a past signification. מק קד, “the place of the holy,” is equivalent to מקום קדוש, as also at Leviticus 7:6. Ewald understands by it the place of burial: “the upright were driven away (cast out) from the holy place of graves.” Thus e.g., also Zöckl., who renders: but wandered far from the place of the holy … those who did righteously, i.e., they had to be buried in graves neither holy nor honourable. But this form of expression is NOT FOUND among the many designations of a burial-place used by the Jews (vid., below, Ecclesiastes 12:5, and Hamburger's Real-Encykl. für Bibel u. Talm., article “Grab”). God's-acre is called the “good place,”

(Note: Vid., Tendlau's Sprichw., No. 431.)

but not the “holy place.” The “holy place,” if not Jerusalem itself, which is called by Isaiah II (Isaiah 48:2), Neh., and Dan., ('ir haqqodesh) (as now (el-(ḳuds)), is the holy ground of the temple of God, the τόπος ἃγιος (Matthew 24:15), as Aquila and Symm. translate. If, now, we find min CONNECTED with the verb (halak), it is to be presupposed that the min designates the point of departure, as also השלך מן, Isaiah 14:19. Thus not: to wander far from the holy place; nor as Hitz., who points יהלכו: they pass away (perish) far from the holy place. The subject is the being driven away from the holy place, but not as if יהל were causative, in the sense of יוליכו fo esne, and meant ejiciunt, with an indef. subj. (Ewald, Heiligst., Elst.), - it is also, Ecclesiastes 4:15; Ecclesiastes 11:9, only the intens. of Kal, - but יהל denotes, after Psalm 38:7; Job 30:28, cf. Job 24:10, the meditative, dull, SLOW walk of those who are compelled against their will to depart from the place which they love (Psalm 26:8; Psalm 84:2.). They must go forth (whither, is not said, but probably into a foreign country; cf. Amos 7:17), and only too soon are they

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forgotten in the city, viz., the holy city; a younger generation knows nothing more of them, and not even a gravestone brings them back to the memory of their people. Also this is a vanity, like the many others already REGISTERED - this, viz., that the wicked while living, and also in their death, possess the sacred native soil; while, on the contrary the upright are constrained to depart from it, and are soon forgotten. Divine rectitude is herein missed. Certainly it exists, and is also recognised, but it does not show itself always when we should expect it, nor so soon as appears to us to be salutary.

11 When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.

CLARK, "Because sentence - pithgam, a Divine decree or declaration. This is no פתגםHebrew, 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?

GILL, "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.

HE�RY, "He had observed that their prosperity hardened them in their wickedness, Ecc_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

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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.

JAMISO�, "The reason why the wicked persevere in sin: God’s delay in judgment (Mat_24:48-51; 2Pe_3:8, 2Pe_3:9). “They see not the smoke of the pit, therefore they dread not the fire” [South], (Psa_55:19). Joab’s escape from the punishment of his murder of Abner, so far from “leading him to repentance,” as it ought (Rom_2:4), led him to the additional murder of Amasa.

YOU�G, "God is long-suffering, and the sentence against wicked

men is therefore delayed. This should lead the wicked

to repentance. But it often produces the contrary effect,

and men mock and say, "Where is the promise of his

coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things con-

tinue as they were from the beginning of the creation."

2 Pet. iii. 4. They consider delays as failures.

Some wicked men have repented, being overcome by

God's goodness; but multitudes have taken advantage

thereby to sin. Their hearts are " fully set in them to do

evil." But the execution of the sentence will come

sooner or later. It may come " with the feet of wool

(softly); but it will strike with the hands of lead." Alas

for the victim when his time coineth ! The long-suffering

of God waited in the days of �oah ; but when the time

came, the sentence was executed most fearfully. Bishop

Taylor says, as quoted by Bridges : " Vice first is pleasing ;

then it grows easy ; then delightful ; then frequent ; then

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habitual; then confirmed; then the man is impenitent;

then obstinate ; then he resolves never to repent ; and

then he is damned.''^

This verse refers especially to rulers, but is a general

proposition including all men. The Hebrew word Djn-)

{pithegam) translated sentence, is one of the words relied

upon to prove that this book was written after the days

of Solomon, because a " later Hebrew " word or Chaldaic.

But Gesenius says that the word " would seem to come

from an antique form, in which both the t and g were pre-

served." Persian — peighdm. Some of Solomon's au-

ditors may have been from foreign countries, and familiar

with the word. Because it is not found in any book of

the Bible before Solomon's time, it is no evidence that it

was not known in his time. In Esther i. 20, it is trans-

lated decree. It was a word used by Memucan, a Per-

sian, and was probably an Eastern word of ancient date.

" Chaldaic words occur in the book of Job, the Proverbs,

&c." (Home, Vol. ii. p. 32.) These books of the Old

Testament are as old as Solomon's time, certainly.

PULPIT, "The verse states one of the results of God's forbearance in punishing the evil. Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily. The verse begins with asher, "because," as in Ecc_4:3; Ecc_6:12, which connects the sentence with the allegation of vanity just preceding, as well as with what follows. Pithgam, "sentence," "edict," is a foreign word of Persian origin, found in Est_1:20 and in Chaldee portions of Ezra (Ezr_4:17) and Daniel (Dan_4:14, etc.). God seems to us to delay in punishing the guilty because we behold only one little portion of the course of his providence; could we take a more comprehensive view, anomalies would disappear, and we should see the end of these men (Psa_73:17). But a contracted, skeptical view leads to two evils—first, a weakening of faith in God's moral government; and second, a miserable fatalism which denies man's responsibility and saps his energy. Of the former of these results Koheleth here treats. Therefore the heart of the sons of men. The heart is named as the seat of thought and the prime mover of action (comp. Ecc_9:3; Est_7:5; Mat_15:18, Mat_15:19). Is fully set in them to do evil; literally, is full in them; i.e. their heart becomes filled with thoughts which are directed to evil, or full of courage, hence "emboldened" to do evil. Vulgate, absque timore ullo filii hominum perpetrant mala; Septuagint, "Because

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there is no contradiction ( ἀντίῤῥησις ) made on the part of ( ἀπὸ ) those who do evil speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully persuaded ( ἐπληροφορήθη ) in them to do evil." The long-suffering of God, instead of leading such men to repentance, hardens them in their infidelity (Psa_73:11). Primarily, the reference is still to tyrannical despots, who, in their seeming impunity, are em-boldened to pursue their evil course. But the statement is true generally. As Cicero says, "Quis ignorat maximam illecebram esse peccandi impunitatis spem?" ('Pro Milone,' 16.).

PULPIT 11-13, "Solemn thoughts for serious moments.

I. A GREAT DISTI�CTIO� I� THE CHARACTERS OF ME�. Between the righteous and the wicked (Ma 3:18), the sinner and the saint, the man that fears God and the soul that fears him not. This distinction eclipses all others. Other distinctions affect the externals, this the essentials of man's being. The fear of God the root of all goodness in the soul (Psa_111:10).

II. A GREAT FACT I� THE DIVI�E ADMI�ISTRATIO�. That sentence is already pronounced (Eze_18:4), and will eventually be executed (unless intercepted by grace) on every evil work (Psa_11:6; Psa_34:21; Rom_1:18; Rom_5:12; Rom_6:21, Rom_6:23; Jas_1:15). A sermon on the certainty of future judgment. The principle of the Divine government is one of moral retribution. To each man according as his work shall be—evil to the evil, good to the good.

III. A GREAT DISPLAY OF DIVI�E CLEME�CY. Though pronounced, yet is sentence not executed against every evil work. Sometimes in God's providence retribution follows swiftly upon the heels of crime. For the most part, however, the infliction of the sentence is deferred—to give the sinner space to repent, to reveal to him the greatness of his guilt, and to melt him by a personal experience of undeserved kindness. "Account the long-suffering of our God salvation" (2Pe_3:15).

IV. A GREAT I�STA�CE OF HUMA� IMPIETY. "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." The abuse of clemency a sadder sign of depravity than the violation of commandment; to trample on God's mercy a greater wickedness than to break his Law.

V. A GREAT DIVERGE�CE I� I�DIVIDUAL EXPERIE�CE. Between that of the long-lived and deeply-dyed sinner who defies the Divine Law and despises the Divine mercy, and that of the good man and humble who fears God and walks in his commandments and ordinances. The former, in spite of all his shameless audacity and boundless impiety, attains not to real happiness—"it shall not be well with the wicked," either here or hereafter (Isa_3:11). The former, notwithstanding his depressed condition, and perhaps brief life, is possessed of the secret of inward felicity—"it shall be well with them that fear God," both in this world and the next (Isa_3:10; 1Ti_4:8).


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Ecc_8:11. 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.

SI� is in itself an evil of a crimson dye; nevertheless its malignity may be greatly increased by the aggravations with which it is attended. One can scarcely conceive any thing that can enhance its guilt so much, as the committing of it in hopes that God’s mercy will pardon it. Yet this is the very ground on which the world indulge themselves in the commission of it. “Because,” &c.

I. The extent of man’s wickedness—

That sin exists in the world is visible to all; but the degree in which it prevails is very little known. In what way men sin, we may judge from the exceeding depth of colouring which there is in the picture before us. They sin,

1. Habitually—

[All are not equally vicious in their lives, but all forget God, and neglect their own souls. Successive years serve only to confirm this habit. We may all adopt the confession of the church of old [�ote: Jer_3:25.].]

2. Deliberately—

[It were well if we never sinned, but through ignorance or inadvertence: but what schemes have we formed for the accomplishment of sinful purposes! How often have we seen the sinfulness of our desires, and yet gratified them [�ote: Rom_1:32.]! The very bent and inclination of our souls has been towards wickedness [�ote: Job_15:16.].]

3. Without restraint—

[A regard to our reputation or interests may impose some restraint. A fear of hell may also prevent the gratification of some desires: but few are kept from evil, like Joseph, by the fear of God [�ote: Gen_39:9.]: that is the only restraint which proves uniformly effectual [�ote: Jam_2:11.].]

4. Without remorse—

[We must at times have felt some convictions of conscience, but we, for the most port, stifle them by company, amusements, &c. Many attain to dreadful hardness of heart and impenitence [�ote: 1Ti_4:2.]. The prophet’s description may well be applied to each of us [�ote: Jer_8:5-6.].]

Thus are “men’s hearts fully set in them to do evil”—

[They walk after the imagination of their own hearts: neither mercies nor

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judgments can prevail with them to do otherwise.]

If their sins were followed by a visible and immediate punishment, men would not dare to live in this manner; but God defers the execution of his judgments.

II. The occasion of it—

God is not an unconcerned spectator of sin. He has appointed a day for the revelation of his righteous judgment. At present he forbears to inflict vengeance. This very forbearance emboldens men to sin—“because,” “therefore.” From the delay of punishment men think,

1. That there is but little “evil” in sin—

[God indeed calls sin “an evil work:” but his forbearance towards sinners is thought to indicate indifference. This however is a fatal delusion. He has marked the evil of sin in many awful instances [�ote: 2Pe_2:4-6.]: he will soon undeceive this blind infatuated world [�ote: Eph_5:6.].]

2. That there is no “sentence” gone forth against it—

[Men would gladly persuade themselves that they have no cause to fear. The temptation whereby the serpent beguiled Eve is cherished by them [�ote: Gen_3:4.]. But the wrath of God is indeed denounced against sin [�ote: Rom_2:8-9.]. Every species and degree of sin renders us obnoxious to his displeasure [�ote: Rom_1:18.].]

3. That the sentence (if there be any) will never be “executed”—

[Since God defers punishing, it seems possible that he may decline it altogether. The apparent disproportion between the offence and the punishment seems to countenance this idea. To confirm our hope we are apt to compare God with ourselves [�ote: Psa_50:21.]. But, however long God delay, he will surely strike at last [�ote: Ecc_8:12-13.].]

Thus it is that men act in every age—

[David mentions this effect as arising from it in his day [�ote: Psa_55:19.]. St. Peter foretells the prevalence of this iniquity in the last days [�ote: 2Pe_3:3-4.]. Experience proves how universally it obtains at this hour.]


1. How great the folly, as well as wickedness, of unregenerate men!

[If there were only a bare possibility of eternal punishment, how mad were it to CO�TI�UE in sin! But God has pledged himself that he will inflict it on the

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impenitent [�ote: Mat_25:46.]. Every moment’s CO�TI�UA�CE in sin increases the condemnation [�ote: Rom_2:4-5.]. What extreme folly then is it so to abuse the forbearance of God! May we be ashamed of ourselves, and repent in dust and ashes.]

2. What need have we to be cleansed by the blood and Spirit of Christ!

[What but the blood of Christ can ever expiate the guilt we have contracted? What but the Spirit of Christ can ever deliver us from such habits? That we can never renew our own souls is certain [�ote: Jer_13:23.]. Let us therefore wash in the fountain opened for us [�ote: Zec_13:1.]; and let us apply to God for his almighty aid [�ote: Lam_5:21.].]

3. How dreadful must be the state of those who CO�TI�UE impenitent!

[Then is a certain measure of iniquity which sinners are left to fill up [�ote: Gen_15:16.]: when this is full, nothing can avert the divine vengeance [�ote: 1Th_2:16.]. Already are the arrows of divine justice pointed at them [�ote: Psa_7:11-13.]. Eternity itself will be the duration of the punishment [�ote: Mar_9:43-48.]. The time is coming when Jerusalem’s state will be ours [�ote: Luk_19:42.]. Let us then tremble lest we exhaust the divine patience [�ote: Zep_2:2-3.]. Let us diligently improve this day of salvation [�ote: 2Co_6:2.].]

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR, "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.

Present forbearance no argument against future retribution

Solomon had looked abroad, and had seen sin abounding;—men revelling in iniquity, vainly counting that, because God kept silence, He world never awake to judgment. Who can deny that this is true of our own day?

I. The operation of the principle.

1. It has its influence amongst merely professing Christians. It lies at the root of their indecision.

2. It has its influence upon the religiously indifferent. To them there is nothing threatening in the horizon. What may come they know not, nor are they much concerned to know. They hope to be prepared for things as they turn up upon the wheel of fortune. To them there is a powerful argument in—“All things as they were.” A change may come, certainly, but there is no promise of Such change coming now. Were the penalty of transgression suspended over their heads, ready to fall upon the commission of sin, they might be restrained; but it is in the future,—how far they know not, nor do they care to inquire.

3. There is yet another class by whom the principle is embraced, and held as a part of their determined creed—the professedly infidel (2Pe_3:3-4). To the eye of one who cares not to analyze the past, or to indulge in serious thoughts of the future, things appear to be now as they have been, and as they must ever be; and thus present, living, undeniable facts are made to give the lie to everything predictive of a change.

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II. The evils of the principle.

1. It erects a false standard between right and wrong. Punished or not punished, now or in the future—or, if such a thing might be, never punished at all—such a fact could in no way affect the character of an essentially evil deed.

2. It argues a deplorable ignorance of, or dishonesty towards, other parts of the Divine administration. If God be the universal Lawgiver; if the same hand which penned the Decalogue impressed upon Nature her laws, and fixed the principles of her movements; then there is something to be apprehended from a course of sin, even though a just recompense may be long delayed. Our sky may be bright, but our sins, in the meantime, may be gathering into one big thunder-cloud on the horizon, which is destined to break upon us in one overwhelming torrent of direst woe. Even so when this life and another are taken as the periods. We may sin for a season—“sentence against an evil work” may not be “executed speedily”—but all nature joins testimony with the Bible in declaring that sin shall not go unpunished.

3. The conduct is opposed to the entire economy under which we live. Man is sinful: human nature is fallen. God designs to raise it; but in a manner consistent with His own character and the character of man. Moral agents have to be dealt with;—He therefore employs moral means. Divine patience and longsuffering are essential to probation; and thus we see that the forbearance which God exercises toward a sinner is fundamental in that gracious economy under which we live. According to the terms of the evangelical covenant, sin cannot adequately be punished at once. It would be to frustrate His own designs—to do violence to His own arrangements.

4. The conduct is abusive of the richest mercy, and the highest privileges of Heaven. We pity the blindness and impenitence of the antediluvians, who, in spite of the warnings of a righteous God, brought down the death-floods of a wakened wrath;—but ours is a more fearful portion; and a bitterer verdict awaits us if, “because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, our hearts are more fully set in us to do evil.” (J. H. Rylance.)

The longsuffering of God with individuals

The wise man points out in the text one general cause of the impenitence of mankind. “The heart of the sons of men is fully set to do evil.” Why? “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily.” This shameful, but too common, inclination we will endeavour to expose. What are the perfections of God? They are, ye answer, truth, which is interested in executing the threatenings that are denounced against sinners: wisdom, which is interested in supplying means of re-establishing order: and particularly justice, which is interested in the punishing of the guilty. I reply, your idea of truth is opposite to truth: your idea of wisdom is opposite to wisdom: your idea of justice is opposite to justice. The delay of the punishment of sinners, ye say, is opposite to the truth of God: on the contrary, God hath declared that He would not punish every sinner as soon as he had committed an act of sin. The delay of the punishment of sinners, ye say, is opposite to the wisdom of God: on the contrary, it is this delay which provides for the execution of that wise plan which God hath made for mankind, of placing them for some time in a state of probation in this world, and of regulating their future reward or punishment according to their use or abuse of such a dispensation. The delay of the punishment of sinners, ye say, is repugnant to the justice of God. Quite the contrary. The delay of the punishment of sinners will not seem incompatible with the justice of God unless ye

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consider that perfection detached from another perfection, by which God in the most eminent manner displays His glory—I mean His mercy. What would have become of David if Divine mercy had not prolonged his days after he had fallen into the crimes of adultery and murder; or if justice had called him to give an account of his conduct while his heart, burning with a criminal passion, was wishing only to gratify it? It was the longsuffering, the patience of God that gave him time to recover himself, to get rid of his infatuation, to see the horror of his sin, and to say under a sense of it, “Have mercy upon me, O God,” etc. What would have become of St. Peter if God had called him to give an account of himself while, frightened and subverted at the sight of the judges and executioners of his Saviour, he was pronouncing those cowardly words, “I know not the man”? It was the longsuffering and patience of God that gave him an opportunity of seeing the merciful looks of Jesus Christ immediately after his denial of Him. What would have become of St. Paul if God had required an account of his administration while he was breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord? It was the long-suffering of God that gave him an opportunity of saying, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?’’ It was the patience of God which gave him an opportunity of making that honest confession, “I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy.” (J. Saurin.)

The impunity of bad men in the world

I. Show some very dangerous mistakes that are about this matter.

1. This has been the great objection of atheists in all ages against the being of a God. The story of Diagoras is well known, who, seeing a wretch forswear himself and remain unpunished, became a professed atheist.

2. Others admit the being of a God, but deny His providence in the administration of human affairs, because they see bad men unpunished in the world.

3. Bad men that own a God and a providence, seeing their crimes unpunished, fall into another error. Ii raises them to a great confidence about the nature of those actions, which, because God does not punish, they think cannot be bad. Dionysius said the gods were pleased with his sacrilege when they sent him a prosperous voyage after he had robbed their temples.

4. There is a fault incident to many otherwise good men. They are uneasy at the impunity of bad men in the world. They repine at the patience and longsuffering of God towards them. And this undoubtedly is a sin. Ought they not to acquiesce in the Divine methods and dispensations and adore the righteousness of God’s ways in the world, although, perhaps, they cannot comprehend them?

5. But the great and common evil that is among men, arising from the impunity of bad men in the world, is that there are very few that from thence do not take encouragement to go on securely in their sins, not dreading that punishment which some think will never come; others look on at such a distance that the apprehension of it is not strong enough to make them turn from their evil ways.

II. Expound this riddle of providence, the impunity of bad men in the world.

1. Public societies or bodies of men are punished in this world, though particular persons may not. By public societies I mean kingdoms, nations, and states, and churches; these being also considered as societies of Christian men, who have special rules set them for their conduct in that relation wherein they stand to each other.

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National judgments for national sins are immoderate droughts, excessive rains and inundations of waters, contrary seasons, and a conflict in the elements, all which cause famines and barrenness in the earth; pestilences, and other contagious and malignant distempers.

2. As for particular bad men, they are a punishment to themselves. A bad man always bears a secret punishment within him. Every ill action he does exposes him to the severe rebukes of his own conscience. Moreover, the tumult and disorder of his passions, which clash with each other, and often meet with exasperating difficulties in the pursuit of unlawful object, his restless desires, his awakening fears, and jealousies, and distrusts, and thirst of revenge, these, and a thousand things more of the like nature, disturb the peace of his soul.

3. Nor are bad men secure even against outward punishment. For wickedness and vice are not always prosperous in the world.

4. The end of Divine punishment in this world must be the correction or the destruction of the offender. But there are very good reasons why God does not always punish bad men in this world with respect to either of these.

(1) With respect to the first, God does not always punish bad men in this world, because He considers men as rational creatures, and who ought therefore to be dealt with by rational methods. Present and frequent punishments would not be congruous to the nature of man. The rod and the whip are only fit for beasts, creatures void of understanding, but of quick sense, not to be argued but lashed into duty by the pungency of present pain. God does not always punish bad men in this world, because man is a free agent; but present punishment, would bring a force and a compulsion upon him inconsistent with that freedom; and his obedience to God would not be voluntary, because it were not free.

(2) With respect be the second, God does not always punish bad men in this world, because He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. God does not always punish bad men in this world that He may set mankind an example of longanimity, and meekness under injuries, and of mutual forbearance to each other. And the world needs such an example. God does not always punish bad men in this world, that they may have time to repent and grow better. God does not always punish bad men in this world because this world is a state of probation and trial, and such a state will not admit of present punishment. For in order to be proved men must be left in a manner to themselves. God does not always punish bad men in this world because they are to have their portion in it. Thus, the wicked rich man was told in hell that in his lifetime he had received his good things. God does not always punish bad men in this world because they are so intermixed with the good that the one cannot be punished but the other must participate in their punishment; God therefore spares the bad in pity and compassion to the good. God does not always punish bad men in this world that He may exercise the faith of good men. God does not always punish bad men in this world because, says Plutarch, He reserves them to be a punishment to others. Even good men may need correction. When they do so, and God will have the hands of men to intervene in it, He does not usually employ the ministry of other good men to chastise them; He employs bad men, as fittest for that work: and He makes the bad punish one another. God does not always punish bad men in this world because their sins are not yet ripe for punishment. God does not always punish bad men in this world because lie has appointed a day wherein He will pass a

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strict and impartial judgment upon all men, and will finally render to every one according to his works. (P. Falle.)

Abused goodness

I. God’s forbearance. Though strict, to mark iniquity, He is slow to punish it. The crimes of the old world cried long to heaven. Drunkards, blasphemers, extortioners, murderers, and sinners of all sorts, are permitted to live on and sin on for years, whilst their richly-merited doom is not visited upon them.

II. Man’s perverseness. We would suppose that such displays of Divine forbearance would be softening and restraining to men’s hearts; and some it does lead to repentance. There is a potency in kindness. The roughest natures often surrender to its power, and even the maniac’s madness often yields to its softening touch. But, alas for poor human nature I the very leniency of God is often turned into licence for crime. As a vessel at sea, headed for the destined port, with sails set, canvas filled, and speeding on in one unvarying course, so the sinner, because he is not at once dashed upon the reefs, or beaten back by judgments, all the capacities of his being are bent on evil.

III. The certainty of retribution. The sentence against every evil work has been passed where nothing is ever taken back. Even for the saved Christ had to suffer and die. The trampled Law will assert its dignity and avenge its insults some day. As Jehovah lives, His decrees must go into effect. For every soul, and for every sin, judgment must come. It cannot be otherwise. God is just and holy, and can in no wise clear the persevering guilty. We may question, equivocate, and disbelieve; but that will not serve to stay the chariot-wheels of an avenging God. There is mercy now, but mercy despised is certain death. (Joseph A. Seiss, D. D.)

The abuse of Divine forbearance

I. Sin is deservedly called an evil work. It is “the work of the devil. It is folly, ingratitude, rebellion, treason. It degrades and defiles the soul. It robs us of the likeness, the presence, the favour of God. How deplorable are its consequences! It cannot go unpunished. There is a sentence denounced against it. God is the governor of the world. But there is no governing without laws, and laws are nothing without sanctions—from these they derive their force and their efficacy. Laws issued by a legislator, unaccompanied with threatenings, would be harmless, and, inspiring no terror, would be trifled with or considered only as advice. Thus the notion of punishment follows from the very constitution of law. Accordingly, a sentence the moab tremendous is denounced against every transgressor. Do you ask where it is recorded? Look within thee, O man, and read it there: read it in the trouble, the remorse, the forebodings of thy own conscience. Examine the history of mankind, and read it there. See it in the expulsion of the happy pair from Paradise; in the flood which destroyed the world of the ungodly; in the fire and brimstone which consumed the cities of the plain. Open the Bible, and peruse it there. There you read that the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

II. Sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed. With much longsuffering God endures the provocations of the ungodly, and delays from day to day the wrath which they have deserved. Patience is one of the distinguishing glories of His character; it is often ascribed to Him in Scripture; and the exercise of it appears in numberless instances. And are not you, are not all of you examples? Can you consider the time of

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your provocation—the number of your offences—the aggravations of your iniquities, and not say, with wonder and admiration, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not”? We are obviously intended for a social state: but the intercourse we are required to maintain with our fellow-creatures exposes us to innumerable provocations and offences; and the effects of sudden and uncontrolled resentments would be fatal to ourselves and others. Hence we are commanded to be “slow to wrath”: and to be “patient towards all men.” And in this forbearance God places Himself before us as our example. If the commission of sin were always immediately followed with the punishment of it, this world would not be a state of probation, His “judgments” would not be “a great deep,” and the whole nature and design of religion would be subverted. If the wrath of God instantly crushed every transgressor, He would be the destroyer rather than the governor of the world. To destroy is comparatively easy, and discovers little perfection: but the wisdom of God appears in reigning over the extravagance of the world; in making the wrath of man to praise Him. It is also worthy of our remark that many who deserve destruction are useful in the present state of the world; they are able to promote the arts and sciences, and are qualified to render great services to a country. Such men are links in the chain of Providence, and their destiny secures them. There are also purposes which the wicked can only accomplish. God calls the Assyrian the rod of His anger and the staff of His indignation; and says, “I will send him against an hypocritical nation; and against the people of My wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire in the streets.” The ungodly, by their continuance, are useful to the righteous: they exercise their patience, call forth their zeal, and wean them from the present world.

III. The depravity of man turns Divine clemency into presumption, and abuses the patience which bears with him to purposes the most vile.

1. Nothing is more common than this abuse. Perhaps many of you are examples of it. To decide this I ask, Would you have continued in your sinful courses to this hour, had you not been persuaded that God would bear with you? Would you now perpetrate another crime if you supposed that God would instantly destroy you for it?

2. Nothing can be more vile and base than this abuse. Clemency affords you a shelter from the storm, and you enter, and then wound your kind Benefactor, and wound Him because He had pity upon you.

3. Be assured nothing will be more fatal. Mercy is your final resource; and, when this is provoked, to what can you turn? (W. Jay.)

God’s delay of executing the sentence of condemnation against ungodly men often miserably abused by them

I. There is a sentence passed in the court of heaven, and standing, against ungodly men, evil-workers, however easy they be under it for a time. To explain the nature of this sentence, consider, Every evil work is a breach of God’s law; and every sinful thought, word, or action is an evil work (1Jn_3:4). The grounds of it more particularly are—

1. The sin of nature, original sin imputed (Rom_5:12).

2. The sins of the heart (Psa_24:4; Mat_5:28-29).

3. The sins of the tongue (Mat_12:37). It is a channel by which the heart vents much

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of its inbred corruption, contempt of God, etc.

4. The sins of the life, wicked actions, whether of impiety against God, unrighteousness against men, or intemperance against ourselves (Jud_1:15).

II. The Lord often-times does not soon come to the execution of the sentence against ungodly men, evil-workers; but delays it for a time.

1. We shall take a view of the method of Providence in this matter.

(1) There is a swift method the Lord sometimes takes with sinners (Mal_3:5). Sometimes the sinner has an ill work in design, and the Lord counts his will for the deed, and prevents by a speedy execution; as in Haman’s case. He hatched the mischief, but be did not see it come forth. Sometimes the sinner is in actual motion to the ill work, and execution is done on him ere he get it performed. So it fared with the rebellious Israelites, in their attempting to go into the promised land (Num_14:44-45). And so it fared with Jeroboam, putting forth his hand to lay hold on the prophet (1Ki_13:4); and with Uzziah having the censer in his hand (2Ch_26:19). Sometimes the execution trysts with the very doing of the ill work, so that the sinner is taken away with the stroke in his sin. Thus fared it with Nadab and Abihu offering strange fire (Lev_10:1-2); with Zimri and Cozbi cut off in the act of uncleanness (Num_25:8); and with Herod, who was eaten up of worms for his atheism and blasphemy (Act_12:23). Sometimes as the ill work is done out and ended, the execution begins. So it fared with Sennacherib’s blasphemous letter (2Ki_19:14; 2Ki_19:35). Sometimes the execution keeps pace with the ill work, and the one goes on as the other does; judgment in the several degrees following hard at the heels of the sin. So it fared with Hiel in his building of Jericho (1Ki_16:1-34.). Sometimes execution begins with the sinner’s beginning to reap the fruit of his sin when he leans upon his wall, a serpent bites him. So it fared with Ahab taking possession of Naboth’s vineyard (1Ki_21:18-19), and with the lusters in the wilderness (Psa_78:30-31). Sometimes when one’s sin begins to work, in its bitter fruits and effects on others, it recoils on the sinner himself. So it fared with Judas the traitor (Mat_27:3-5).

(2) There is a slow method the Lord takes oftentimes with sinners (Neh_9:17). They commit their evil works; the sentence is presently passed for them: but then the execution is delayed (Psa_50:21). The sinner may get his evil work contrived and accomplished, without any let in this way from Heaven, by any execution against him. The ill work being done without let, the sinner may also for a time pass unpunished, and as little notice may seem to be taken of it as if there were not a God to judge upon the earth (Eze_9:9). Nay, sinners may prosper in an ill course. So far may they be from execution done against them, that they may thrive in the world in it (Psa_37:35). When execution is at length begun, it may be carried on very leisurely for a time: the drops may come very few and soft before the shower (Isa_9:1). More than all that, the execution may be entirely put off during this life.

2. We shall account for this slow method of Providence.

(1) This method is taken to bring sinners to repentance, and prevent their ruin (2Pe_3:9); and it is becoming the perfections of a merciful God therefore to use it.

(2) In the slow method God takes with sinners, He often has an eye to posterity. Though the slow method seems strange to us short-sighted creatures, it is not at

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all strange being viewed in the glass of the infinite perfections of the Divine nature. God is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting (Psa_90:2). If men do not soon pursue their quarrels, death may snatch them away, and they can have no access more to do it: but however long the Lord delays pleading His quarrel, He can lose no time, for He is eternal. In God’s eternal duration there are no differences of time; all is present to Him. He sees exactly the time appointed for execution against every impenitent sinner, and will not let it pass beyond that one moment (Hab_2:3). He knows what He intends to do, and none can hinder (Dan_4:37). He is infinitely blessed in Himself, and nothing the creature can do against Him can hurt Him, nor in the least disturb His repose in Himself (Job_35:6; Job_35:8). There is a necessity for both the swift and slow methods being used by Providence in the government of the world; it is so corrupt and atheistical. The swift method is necessary to show that there is a God to judge upon the earth (Psa_58:10-11). The slow method is necessary to show there is a judgment to come (2Th_1:4-7). Let sinners be spared never so long, not one of all their ill works will, or can be, forgotten. The longer sinners are spared, their counts will be the greater, and all will come on at once (Luk_11:50-51; 1Sa_3:12). When it comes on the impenitent sinner, God will charge both the interest and the principal sum together.

III. God’s delay of execution is often miserably abused by sinners, to the filling of their hearts to do evil, and sinning more and more.

1. I shall point out the abuse of God’s patience in the delay of execution that ungodly sinners make, to the filling of their hearts to do evil.

(1) They abuse it to carnal security (Psa_10:6).

(2) They abuse it to a sensual life, wherein their aim is not to keep a clean conscience, but to gratify their senses, as their circumstances in the world will permit, as the rich man did (Luk_12:19).

(3) They abuse it to impudence in sin (Jer_6:14-15).

(4) They abuse it to contempt of God and all that is sacred (Psa_73:9).

(5) They abuse it to sinning more diffusely, giving loose reins to their several lusts (Jer_7:9-10).

(6) They abuse it to sinning more eagerly (Eph_4:19).

(7) They abuse it to incorrigibleness and obstinacy in sin (Jer_22:21).

2. How comes it to pass that sinners so abuse God’s patience with them?

(1) Sin reigning in the ungodly, fear of wrath is their highest motive to good, and most forcible restraint from evil: and so when that restraint is taken off by the delay of execution again and again, the heart naturally goes to its own bias, and is like the wild ass’s colt snuffing up the wind at her pleasure.

(2) They mistake the design of Providence. They construe it as if God approved of their ways, or had such a regard for them that He will not be so angry with them as one would make them believe; they cannot think that He is so very angry at their sin while they prosper in it by His providence.

(3) There is a root of atheism in the hearts of all men naturally, and it reigns in the ungodly (Psa_14:1).

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(4) The Lord often in that way carries on a holy hardening work. In which case Satan and the evil heart conspire to this abuse. (T. Boston, D. D.)

Sin and its sentence

(with Num_32:23):—

I. The apparent slowness of God to punish sin. “Sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily.” That is how it seems to be. It seems as if sin were not the dangerous thing it is represented to be; as if it were a harmless thing, and one might commit it without any consequence being forthcoming. And this is one way in which people are ensnared to go on sinning. They are misled and deceived by appearances. They think they will have nothing to pay now for what they are doing. You all know what an alluring thing credit is to some people. There are plenty of people who buy things which they would not buy if they had to pay for them at the time. Now, just as credit in worldly affairs is to some people a snare, so in relation to sin some people think that they can sin upon credit; that they can sin and have nothing to pay at once. Then, too, there is the thought that there may be even exemption from penalty. People think that they will get off altogether. They think “there is a kind of miscarriage of justice in the moral world; there are some who escape; why may not I?”

II. The certainty of penalty. “Be sure your sin will find you out.”

1. Every sin has its appropriate penalty. A man suffers according as he transgresses. Sometimes this penalty for sin is twofold in its nature. It is outward; that is to say, a man suffers in his body, in his circumstances, in his social position, in his reputation. He suffers, also, inwardly; that is, in his character, in his spirit, in the higher life of the man. Sometimes both these penalties go together, hand in hand, and visit the transgressor.

2. The penalty begins with the beginning of sin. The dropping of water wears away a stone. You see the stone crumbled and disintegrated. When did the process of wearing away begin? Did it begin with the thousandth drop? No, it began with the first drop. If, perhaps, you had looked at that stone when the first drop had fallen, you would not have detected anything, but, nevertheless, the impression was made. It began to wear away as much after the first drop had fallen upon it as after the thousandth or ten thousandth. And it is like that With the penalty for sin. As we commit the sin the penalty follows close upon its heels. The sentence is never divorced from the evil work. They go together step by step, hand-in-hand. They are twin companions. They are never broken or separated from each other.

3. The penalty increases as we go on sinning. God is inexorable in this matter. Follow out the history of those who sin by thoughtless indulgences, such as idleness, drunkenness, love of pleasure, gambling, and what do you behold? Situations are lost, self-respect is gone, social respect is withdrawn, poverty comes in at the door and at the window, too; the body gets enfeebled, begins to tremble, unequal to its work; the brain ceases to have its vitality and vigour; memory becomes a poor decrepit thing, and sometimes reason loses its balance and is overthrown. There is the man, in himself and in his surroundings, ruined. (T. Hammond.)

The longsuffering of God

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I. That men are very apt to abuse the longsuffering of God, to the encouraging and hardening of themselves in an evil course, the experience of the world, in all ages, does give abundant testimony.

II. Whence this comes to pass, and upon what pretence and colour of reason men encourage themselves in sin, from the longsuffering of God. And there is no doubt but this proceeds from our ignorance and inconsiderateness and from an evil heart of unbelief, from the temptation and suggestion of the devil. All these causes do concur to the producing this monstrous effects: but that which I design to inquire into is, from what pretence of reason, grounded upon the longsuffering of God, sinners argue themselves into this confidence and presumption. I shall endeavour to show what those false conclusions are, which wicked men draw from the delay of punishment, and to discover the sophistry and fallacy of them.

1. Those conclusions which are more gross and atheistical, which bad men draw to the hardening and encouraging of themselves in sin, from the delay of punishment (which we, who believe a God, call the patience or longsuffering of God), are these three: either that there is no God; or, if there be, that there is no providence; or that there is no difference between good and evil.

2. But because those who are thus are but few, in comparison, there being not many in the world arrived to that degree of blindness and height of impiety as to disbelieve a God and a providence; and I think none have attained to that perfect conquest of conscience as to have lost all sense of good and evil; therefore I shall rather insist upon those kind of reasonings which are more ordinary among bad men, and whereby they cheat themselves into everlasting perdition; and they are such as these:—

(1)Because sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed, therefore sin is not so great an evil.

(2) Therefore God is not so highly offended and provoked by it.

(3) God is not so severe in His own nature as He is commonly represented.

(4) Therefore the punishment of sin is not so certain.

(5) It is at a distance, and may be prevented time enough by a future repentance in our old age or at the hour of death.

III. If the longsuffering of God be the occasion of men’s hardness and impenitency, then why is God so patient to sinners, when they are so prone to abuse his goodness and patience? And how is it goodness in God to forbear sinners so long, when this forbearance of His is so apt to minister to them an occasion of their further mischief and greater ruin? It should seem, according to this, that it would be much greater mercy to the greatest part of sinners not to be patient toward them at all.

1. I ask the sinner if he will stand to this: wouldest thou, in good earnest, have God to deal thus with thee, to take the very first advantage to destroy thee, or turn thee into hell, and to make thee miserable beyond all hopes of recovery?

2. It is likewise to be considered that the longsuffering of God towards sinners is not a total forbearance: it is usually so mixed with afflictions and judgments of one kind or other, upon ourselves or others, as to be a sufficient warning to us, if we would consider and lay it to heart, to “sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon us.” And is not this great goodness to warn us, when He might destroy us? to leave room for a

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retreat, when He might put our case past remedy?

3. Nothing is further from the intention of God than to harden men by His longsuffering (2Pe_3:9).

4. There is nothing in the longsuffering of God that is in truth any ground of encouragement to men in an evil course; the proper and natural tendency of God’s goodness is to lead men to repentance, and by repentance to bring them to happiness (Rom_2:4).

5. That through the longsuffering of God sinners are hardened in their evil ways is wholly to be ascribed to their abuse of God’s goodness; it is neither the end and intention, nor the proper and natural effect of the thing, but the accidental event of it through our own fault. And is this any real objection against the longsuffering of God?

6. But because this objection pincheth hardest in one point, viz. that God certainly foresees that a great many will abuse His longsuffering, to the increasing of their guilt, and the aggravating of their condemnation; and how is longsuffering any mercy and goodness to those, who He certainly foreknows will in the event be so much the more miserable for having had so much patience extended to them? Therefore, for a full answer, I desire these six things may be considered:—

(1) God designs this life for the trial of our obedience, that, according as we behave ourselves, He may reward or punish us in another world.

(2) There could be no trial of obedience, nor any capacity of rewards and punishments, but upon the supposition of freedom and liberty; that is, that we do not do what we do upon force and necessity, but upon free choice.

(3) God, by virtue of the infinite perfection of His knowledge, does clearly and certainly foresee all future events, even those which are most contingent, such as are the arbitrary actions of free and voluntary agents.

(4) The bare foreknowledge of things future hath no more influence upon them to make them to be, than the sight and knowledge of things present hath upon them to make them to be present.

(5) Consequently, foreknowledge and liberty may very well consist; and, notwithstanding God’s foreknowledge of what men will do, they may be as free as if He did not foreknow it.

(6) God doth not deal with men according to His foreknowledge of the good or bad use of their liberty, but according to the nature and reason of things; and therefore, if He be longsuffering toward sinners, and do not cut them off upon the first provocation, but give them a space and opportunity of repentance, and use all proper means and arguments to bring them to repentance, and be ready to afford His grace to excite good resolutions in them, and to second and assist them, and they refuse and resist all this; their wilful obstinacy and impenitency is as culpable, and God’s goodness and patience as much to be acknowledged as if God did not foresee the abuse of it; because His foresight and knowledge of what they would do laid no necessity upon them to do what they did.

IV. Some inferences from this whole discourse upon this argument.

1. This shows the unreasonableness and perverse disingenuity of men, who take occasion to harden and encourage themselves in sin from the longsuffering of God,

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which, above all things in the world, should melt and soften them.

2. This may serve to convince men of the great evil and danger of thus abusing the longsuffering of God. It is a provocation of the highest nature, because it is to trample upon His dearest attributes, those which He most delights and glories in, His goodness and mercy; for the longsuffering of God is His goodness to the guilty, and His mercy to those who deserve to be miserable.

3. To persuade us to make a right use of the patience and longsuffering of God, and to comply with the merciful end and design of God therein.

(1) It is the design of God’s longsuffering to give us a space of repentance.

(2) The longsuffering of God is a great encouragement to repentance. (J. Tillotson, D. D.)

BENSON, "Ecclesiastes 8:11. Because sentence against an evil work — God’s determinate counsel for the punishment of all evil doers; is not executed speedily —

But is oftentimes delayed for some time, to give them space for repentance; therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them — Hebrew, מלא לב, their heart is filled, or, as the LXX, render it επληροφορηθη καρδια is carried on with full sail, like a ship with a strong and violent wind; or, is bold, or presumptuous, as the same phrase is used elsewhere

HAWKER 11-17, "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 an 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. (14) There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, 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: I said that this also is vanity. (15) Then I commended mirth, because a man hath 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 giveth him under the sun. (16) 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:) (17) 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 labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it ; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.

It is blessed to observe what a beautiful correspondence there is through all the parts of scripture. As here, so everywhere, the children of God are distinguished from the children of the wicked one. The prophet was commanded to tell the righteous, that it should he well with him. And the wicked, that it should be ill with him. Isa_3:10-11. And agreeably to this in the general state of things, so should they be marked in particular tokens of each. Behold, saith the Lord God, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed. Isa_65:13-15. And as the wise man here declares, that though a sinner’s days be prolonged, yet the end is ruin: so the Prophet was commissioned to say,

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that the infancy of days, if in grace, was old age before God; while the old age of the sinner, out of grace, was still accursed. Isa_65:20. After such decisive testimonies as these, which the preacher here gives of the difference of nature and grace, it will not be difficult to apprehend, what mirth he means to recommend; and what the eating and drinking, which he here speaks of, as the best thing a man hath to do. Not surely the mirth of the profane, nor the gluttony and drunkenness of the sinner; but the sacred joy of gracious souls, and the spiritual feasting of the heart, which is found in the kingdom of God. Not, saith the Apostle, in meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Rom_14:17. Reader! think, what a rich feast, in gospel times, the people of God are called to, who have the bread of God, even the living bread which came down from heaven for their food; who find the flesh of Christ to be meat indeed, and his blood to be drink indeed. Lord, I would say for myself and every gracious Reader, evermore give us this bread; and it shall put more gladness in our hearts, than sinners feel in the time that their corn and their wine are increased. Joh_6:5-48; Psa_4:7.


When the Pharaoh of the Exodus saw there was respite, he hardened his heart. Abject in his fear before Moses, he was ready to promise anything; insolent in his pride, he swallows down his promises as soon as fear is eased, his repentance and his retractation of it combined to add new weights about his neck. He was but a conspicuous example of a universal fault. Every nation, I suppose, has its proverb scoffing at the contrast between the sick man’s vow and the recovered man’s sins. The bitter moralist of the Old Testament was sure not to let such an instance of man’s inconceivable levity pass unnoticed. His settled habit of dragging to light the seamy side of human nature was sure to fall on this illustration of it as congenial food. He has wrapped up here in these curt, bitter words a whole theory of man’s condition, of God’s providence, of its abuse, and of the end to which it all tends.

I. Note the delay in executing sentence.

Every ‘evil work’ is already sentenced. ‘He that believeth not,’ said Christ, ‘is condemned already’; and that is one case of a general truth. The text writes the sentence as passed, though the execution is for a time suspended. What is the underlying fact expressed by this metaphor? God’s thorough knowledge of, and displeasure at, every evil. When one sees vile things done on earth, and no bolt coming out of the clear sky, it is not easy to believe that all the foulness is known to God; but His eye reaches further than He wills to stretch His arm. He sits a silent Onlooker and beholds; the silence does not argue indifference. The sentence is pronounced, but the execution is delayed. It is not wholly delayed, for there are consequences which immediately dog our evil deeds, and are, as it were, premonitions of a yet more complete penalty. But in the present order of things the connection between a man’s evil-doing and suffering is, on the whole, slight, obscure, and partial. Evil triumphs; goodness not seldom suffers. If one thinks for a moment of the manifold evils of the world, which swathe it, as it were, in an atmosphere of woe-the wars, the slavery, the oppressions, the private sorrows-and then thinks that there is a God who lets all these go on from generation to generation, we seem to be in the presence of a mystery of mysteries. The Psalmist of old exclaimed in adoring wonder, ‘Thy judgments are a great deep’; but the absence of His judgments seems to open a profounder abyss into which even the great mountains of His righteousness appear in danger of falling.

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II. The reasons for this delay.

It is not only a mystery, but it is a ‘mystery of love.’ We can see but a little way into it, but we can see so far as to be sure that the apparent passivity of God, which looks like leaving evil to work its unhindered will, is the silence of a God who ‘doth not willingly afflict,’ and is ‘slow to anger,’ because He is perfect love.

The ground of necessity for the delay in executing the sentence lies, partly, in the probationary character of this present life. If evil-doing was always followed by swift retribution, obedience would be only the obedience of fear, and God does not desire such obedience. It would be impossible that testing could go on at all if at every instant the whole of the consequences of our actions were being realised. Such a condition of things is unthinkable, and would be as confusing, in the moral sphere, as if harvest weather and spring weather were going on together. Again, the great reason why sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily lies in God’s own heart, and His desire to win us to Himself by benefits. He does not seek enforced obedience; He neither desires our being wedded to evil, nor our being weighed upon by the consequences of our sin, and so He holds back His hand. It is to be remembered that He not merely does thus restrain the forthcoming of His hand of judgment, but, instead of it, puts forth a hand of blessing. He moves around us wooing us to Himself, and, in patience possessing His spirit, marks all our sins, but loves and blesses still. He gives us the vineyard, though we do not give Him the fruit. Still He is not angry, but sends His messengers, and we stone them. Still He waits: we go on heaping year upon year of rebellious forgetfulness, and no lightning flashes from His eye, no exclamation of wearied-out patience, comes from His lips, no rush of the sudden arrow from His long-stretched bow. The endless patience of God has no explanation but only this, that He loves us too well to leave any means untried to bring us to Him, and that He lingers round us to win our hearts. O rare and unspeakable love, the patient love of the patient God!

III. The abuse of this delay.

We have the knack of turning God’s pure gifts into poison, and practise a devilish chemistry by which we distil venom from the flowers of Eden and the roses of the garden of God. I don’t suppose that to many men the respite which marks God’s dealing with them actually tends to doubts of His righteousness, or of His power, or of His being. We have evidence enough of these; and the apparently counter evidence, arising from the impunity of evil-doers, is fairly enough laid aside by our moral instincts and consciousness, and by the consideration that the mighty sweep of God’s providence is too great for us to decide on the whole circle by the small portion of the circumference which we have seen. But what most men do is simply that they permit impunity to deaden their sense of right and wrong, and go on in their course without any serious thought of God’s blessings, to jostle Him out of their mind; they ‘despise the riches of His long-suffering goodness,’ and never suffer it to ‘lead them to repentance.’ To the unthinking minds of most of us, the long continuance of impunity lulls us into a dream of its perpetuity. Man’s godless ingratitude is as deep a mystery as is God’s loving patience. It is strange that, with such constant failure of His love to win, God should still persevere in it. For more than seventy times seven He persists in forgiving the rebellious child who sins against Him, and for more than seventy times seven the child persists in the abuse of the Father’s love, which still remains-an abuse of sin above all sins.

IV. The end of the delay.

The sentence is passed. It is impossible that it should not be executed. When God has done all, and sees that the point of hopelessness is reached, or when the time has for

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other reasons come, then He lets the sentence take effect. He kept back the destroying angels from Sodom, but He sent them forth at last. There is a point in the history of nations and of men when iniquity is ‘full,’ and when God sees that it is best, on world-wide grounds or personal ones, to end it. So there come for nations and for individuals crises; and the law for the divine working is, ‘A short work will the Lord make on the earth.’ For long years Noah was building the ark, and exposed to the scoffs of a generation whose sentence had been pronounced and not yet executed; but the day came when he entered into its covert, and ‘the flood came and destroyed them all.’ For generations He would fain have gathered the people of Jerusalem to His bosom ‘as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and they would not’; but the day came when the Roman soldiers cast their torches into the beautiful house where their fathers had praised Him, and sinned against Him, and it was left unto them desolate. Let us not be high-minded nor victims of our levity and inconsiderateness, but fear.

Let us remember too that the intensity of the execution is aggravated by all the sins committed during the delay. By them we ‘treasure wrath against the day of wrath.’ He says to His angels at last ‘Now,’ and the sword falls, and justice is done. ‘The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small.’ The sum of the whole matter is, every evil of ours is sentenced already; the punishment is delayed for our sins, and because Christ has died. God is wooing our hearts, and trying to win us to love Him by the holding back of the sentence which we are daily abusing. Shall we not accept His forbearance and take His gifts as tokens of the patient tenderness of His heart? Or are we to be like ‘the brutes that perish,’ knowing neither the hand that feeds them, nor the hand that kills them. The delay in rendering ‘the just recompence of reward’ only aggravates its weight when it falls. As in some levers, the slower the motion, the greater the force of the lift.

K&D, "“Because judgment against the work of the wicked man is not speedily executed, for this reason the heart of the children of men is full within them, to this, that they do evil.” The clause with asher is connected first with the foregoing (äæמג) : thus vain, after the nature of a perverted world (inversus ordo) -( class="translit">ken) makes this clause with asher reflex. an antecedent of itself (asher = ( class="translit">'al ) -(asher)) -originally it is not meant as an antecedent.תגםM

(Note: With ג raph. in H. P. and the older edd., as also Esther 1:20; Daniel 3:16. Thus also the punctuator Jekuthiél in his (En hakore) to Esther 1:20.)

(here to be written after נע�ה, with פ raph., and, besides, also with ג raph.), in the post-exilian books, is the Persian (paigam), Armen. (patgam), which is derived from the ancient Pers. (paiti-(gama): “Something that has happened, tidings, news.” The Heb. has adopted the word in the general sense of “sentence;” in the passage before us it signifies the saying or sentence of the judge, as the Pers. word, like the Arab. (nabazn), is used principally of the sayings of a prophet (who is called (peighâm-(bar)). Zirkel regards it as the Greek φθέγµα ; but thus, also, the words ריון, אזמלMא strangely agree in sound with σµίλη φορεῖον , without being borrowed from the Greek. The long a of the word is, as Elst. shows, Eccl 1:20, invariable; also here תגםM is the constr. To point תגםM, with Heiligst. and Burg., is thus unwarrantable. It is more remarkable that the word is construed fem. instead of mas. For since אין is construed

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(Note: Ginsburg points in favour of נע�ה as fin. to Exodus 3:2, but there א4ל is particip.; to Jeremiah 38:5, but there כלDי (if it is not to be read יכול) represents an attributive clause; and to Job 35:15, but there the word is rightly pointed אין, not אין; and this, like the vulg. Arab. (laysa), is used as an emphatic לא.)

neither in the bibl. nor in the Mishnic style with the finite of the verb, נע�ה is not the 3rd pret., but the particip. It is not, however, necessary, with Hitz., to read ני�ה. The foreign word, like the (Arab.) (firdans), παράδεισος , admits of use in the double gend. (Ewald, §174g); but it is also possible that the fem. נע�ה is per. attract. occasioned by הרעה, as Kimchi, Michlol 10a, supposes (cf. besides, under Ecclesiastes 10:15). מע�ה is const. governed by (phithgam), and (hara'ah) is thus obj. gen. The lxx, Syr., and Jerome read -.which would be possible only if (phithgam min) - after the analogy of the Heb ,מע�יAram. phrase, (niphra') (('ithpera')) (min), to take one's due of any one, i.e., to take vengeance on him, to punish him - could mean the full execution of punishment on any one; but it means here, as Jerome rightly translates, sententia; impossible, however, with (me'ose hara'ah), sententia contra malos. Hengst. supposes that not only the traditional text, but also the accentuation, is correct, for he construes: because a sentence (of the heavenly Judge) is not executed, the work of wickedness is haste, i.e., speedy. Thus also Dachselt in the Biblia accentuata. Mercerus, on the contrary, remarks that the accents are not in the first instance marks of interpunction, but of cantillation. In fact, genit. word-connections do not exclude the keeping them asunder by distinctives such as Pashta and Tiphcha, Isaiah 10:2, and also Zakeph, as e.g., Esther 1:4. The lxx well renders: “Therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully persuaded in them to do evil;” for which Jerome, freely, after Symm.: absque timore ullo filii hominum perpetrant mala. The heart of one becomes full to do anything, is = it acquires full courage thereto (Luzzatto, §590: gli blastò l'animo); cf. Esther 7:5: “Where is he who has his heart filled to do?” (thus rightly, Keil), i.e., whom it has encourage to so bold an undertaking. הם� in itself unnecessarily heightens the expression of the inwardness of the destructive work (vid., Psychol. p. 151f.). The sentence of punishment does not take effect (mehera), hastily (adv. accus. for (bimherah), Ecclesiastes 4:12), therefore men are secure, and they give themselves with full, i.e., with fearless and shameless, boldness to the practice of evil. The author CONFIRMS this further, but not without expressing his own conviction that there is a righteous requital which contradicts this appearance.

12 Although a wicked man commits a hundred crimes and still lives a long time, I know that it will go better with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God.

BAR�ES, "His days be prolonged - i. e., in his wickedness Ecc_8:8.“I” is emphatic, as if to mark the opposition to the “sons of men” Ecc_8:11.

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CLARK, "Though a sinner do evil a hundred times - If God bear so long with a transgressor, waiting in his longsuffering for him to repent and turn to him, surely he will be peculiarly kind to them that fear him, and endeavor to walk uprightly before him.

GILL, "Though a sinner do evil an hundred times,.... That is ever so many times, a certain number for an uncertain; though he lives in a continued course of sin, being resolved upon the above consideration to give himself a swing to his lusts. The Targum renders it a hundred years; though be should live so long in sin, yet at last should be accursed Isa_65:20. This and what follows are said to check the boldness and presumption of the sinner upon the patience of God; and to make the people of God easy under the delay of justice, and the prosperity of the wicked;

and his days be prolonged: or rather, "and he prolongs unto him" (o); that is, God prolongs unto him, not days only, but the execution of the sentence against his evil works; or defers his wrath and punishment; so Jarchi,

"and the holy blessed God prolongs to him, and does not take vengeance on him;''

and to this purpose is the Targum,

"and from the Lord is given to him space to return;''

yet surely I know; from the word and promise, and from experience, having observed it in a multitude of instances, which have abundantly confirmed the truth;

that it shall be well with them that fear God; not with a servile but filial fear, with a holy, humble, fiducial, affectionate, and an obediential fear; not through any terrible apprehension of his majesty, his judgment, his wrath now and hereafter; but under a sense of his being and perfections, and especially his mercy, grace, and goodness: it is well with such persons in all things; with respect to things temporal they shall not want what is proper for them; and with respect to things spiritual they are interested in the love, grace, and mercy of God; have much made known to them; are remembered by him; the sun of righteousness rises upon them; the eye of God is on them, and his heart towards them, and his hand communicates every needful supply to them; and they are guarded, not only by his angels, but by himself; and it is well with them at all times; in times of public calamity they are either taken from it beforehand, or preserved in it; all afflictions are for their good; it goes well with them at death and judgment; and they will be happy both in the millennium state and in the ultimate glory, So the Targum,

"it shall be well in the world to come with them that fear the Lord;''

see Psa_34:7; with this compare Isa_3:10; it is added,

which fear before him: whose fear is not hypocritical, but sincere and hearty; not in show only, but in reality; not the precepts of men, and as before them, but as the sight of God; having always a sense of omniscience and omnipresence before them; and

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especially this fear is exercised by them when they are his house, in the assembly of his saints, attending his word and ordinances: or "which fear at his presence"; which fills them with a holy awe, as wall as with joy and gladness. The Targum is,

"which fear before him, and do his will.''

HE�RY, "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(Isa_3:10, Isa_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.

JAMISO�, "He says this, lest the sinner should abuse the statement (Ecc_7:15), “A wicked man prolongeth his life.”

before him— literally, “at His presence”; reverently serve Him, realizing His continual presence.

PULPIT, "Though a sinner do evil a hundred times. The sentence begins again, as Ecc_8:11, with asher, followed by a participle; and the conjunction ought to be rendered "because," the statement made in the former verse being resumed and strengthened. The Vulgate has attamen, which our version follows. The Septuagint goes astray, translating, ὃς ἥµαρτεν , "He that has sinned has done evil from that

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time." The sinner is here supposed to have transgressed CO�TI�UALLY without cheek or punishment. The expression, "a hundred times," is used indefinitely, as Pro_17:10; Isa_65:20. And his days be prolonged; better, prolongeth his days for it; i.e. in the practice of evil, with a kind of contentment and satisfaction, the pronoun being the ethic dative. Contrary to the usual course of temporal retribution, the sinner often lives to old age The Vulgate has, Et per patientiam sustentatur, which signifies that he is kept in life by God's long-suffering. Ginsburg gives, "and is perpetuated," i.e. in his progeny—which is a possible, but not a probable, rendering. Yet surely I know; rather, though I for my part know. He has seen sinners prosper; this experience has been forced upon him; yet he holds an inward conviction that God's moral government will vindicate itself at some time and in some signal manner. It shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him. This is not really tautological; it is compared to St. Paul's expression (1Ti_5:3), "widows that are widows indeed" ( ὄντως ), implying that they are, in fact and life, what they profess to be. Delitzsch and Plumptre suggest that in Koheleth's time "God-fearers" had become the name of a religious class, as the Chasidim, or "Assideaus," in 1 Macc. 2:42; 7:13, etc. Certainly a trace of this so-named party is seen in Psa_118:4; Ma 3:16. When this adjustment of anomalies shall take place, whether in this life or in another, the writer says not here. In spite of all contrary appearances, he holds firm to his faith that it will be welt with the righteous in the long run. The comfort and peace of a conscience at rest, and the inward feeling that his life was ordered after God's will, would compensate a good man for much outward trouble; and if to this was added the assured hope of another life, it might indeed be said that it was well with him. The Septuagint has, "that they may fear before him," which implies that the mercy and loving-kindness of God, manifested in his care of the righteous, lead to piety and true religion. Cheyne ('Job and Solomon'), combining this verse with the next, produces a sense which is certainly not in the present Hebrew text, "For I know that it ever happens that a sinner does evil for a long time, and yet lives long, whilst he who fears before God is short-lived as a shadow."


Ecc_8:12. Surely I know that it shall be well with them which fear God.

�OTHI�G certain can be determined respecting God’s favour from the outward dispensations of his providence [�ote: Ecc_9:1.]. The wicked seem on the whole to prosper more than others [�ote: Psa_73:5; Psa_73:12.]; nevertheless the godly are by far the happier persons [�ote: Psa_73:15.]. It is of them only that the assertion in the text can be made. We propose to shew,

I. Who they are that fear God—

This, we may suppose, would be a point easy to be determined: but, through self-love and Satan’s devices, many mistake respecting it. The characters described in the text may be distinguished by the following marks:

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1. They stand in awe of God’s judgments—

[Once they disregarded the displeasure of the Almighty [�ote: Psa_10:5.]: they would not believe that his threatenings would be executed. But now they have learned to tremble at his word [�ote: Isa_66:2.]. Awakened by his Spirit, they exclaim with the prophet [�ote: Isa_33:14.]. The Scriptures uniformly represent them in this light [�ote: Act_16:29 and Psa_119:120.].]

2. They embrace the salvation offered them—

[In their natural state they felt no need of a physician [�ote: Rev_3:17.]: they saw no suitableness in the remedy which the Gospel offered them [�ote: 1Co_1:23.]. Their pride would not suffer them to submit to its humiliating terms [�ote: Rom_10:3.]: but now they gladly embrace Christ as their only Saviour. They flee to him, as the murderers did to a city of refuge. This is the description given of them in the inspired volume [�ote: Heb_6:18].]

3. They endeavour to keep all the commandments-

[If ever they obeyed God at all, they served him only to the extent the world would approve. Where the lax habits of mankind forbad their compliance with the divine command, they were afraid to be singular. But they dare not any longer halt between God and Baal: they have determined, through grace, to follow the Lord fully. The language of their hearts is like that of David [�ote: Psa_119:5-6.]. This was the very ground on which God concluded that Abraham feared him [�ote: Gen_22:12.].]

These marks clearly distinguish those who fear God from all others—

[The formal Pharisee has never felt his desert of condemnation [�ote: Luk_18:11.]. The merely awakened sinner has never truly embraced the Gospel [�ote: Act_24:25; Act_26:28.]. The hypocritical professor has never mortified his besetting sin [�ote: Act_8:23.]. It is the person alone, who fears God, that unites in his experience a dread of God’s wrath, an affiance in Christ, and a love to the commandments.]

Such persons, notwithstanding appearances, are truly blessed.

II. In what respects it shall be well with them—

They are not exempt from the common afflictions of life. They have in addition to them many trials peculiar to themselves; yet it goes well with them,

1. In respect of temporal good—

[They have a peculiar enjoyment of prosperity. The ungodly find an emptiness in all their possessions [�ote: Job_20:22.]; but the godly have not such gall mixed with their comforts [�ote: Pro_10:22. 1Ti_6:17.]. They have also peculiar supports in a

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season of adversity. The wicked are for the most part miserable in their affliction [�ote: Ecc_5:17.]: if kept from murmuring, it is the summit of their attainments: but the righteous are enabled to glory in tribulation [�ote: Rom_5:3.], and cordially to approve of God’s dispensations towards them [�ote: 2Ki_20:19.].]

2. In respect of spiritual good—

[They possess a peace that passeth all understanding. They are filled with a joy utterly unknown to others [�ote: Pro_14:10.]. The work of sanctification is gradually carried on within them [�ote: 2Co_4:16.]. As they approach towards death they grow in a meetness for heaven, and are serene and happy in the near prospect of eternity [�ote: Psa_37:37.].]

3. In respect to eternal good—

[Who can set forth their felicity in the eternal world? Who can even conceive the weight of glory preparing for them? How will their faith be lost in sight, and their hope in enjoyment! Then indeed will that truth be seen and felt by them [�ote: Psa_144:15.].]

These things are far from being “cunningly devised fables.”

III. What assurance we have that it shall be thus well with them—

�o truth whatever is capable of clearer demonstration. The topics from whence it might be proved are innumerable: we shall however confine ourselves to three:

1. The fitness of things requires it—

[�o man can seriously think that there is one portion to the righteous and the wicked: there is no well-ordered government on earth where this is the case: much less can we suppose it possible in the divine government. To imagine such a thing, is to strip the Deity of all regard to his own honour. We may be sure that there shall be a distinction made in favour of his servants [�ote: Mal_3:18.].]

2. The promises of God insure it—

[All temporal good is expressly promised to those “who fear God [�ote: Psa_34:9.]:” all spiritual good also is given them as their portion [�ote: Psa_25:12-13.]: yea, all eternal good is laid up for them as their unalienable inheritance [�ote: Psa_103:17.]: all the promises are made over to them in one word [�ote: 1Ti_4:8.]. Can any one doubt a truth so fully established?]

3. The experience of all that ever feared God attests it—

[Who ever found it unprofitable to serve the Lord [�ote: Jer_2:31.]? What truly devoted soul was ever forsaken by him [�ote: Isa_49:15.]? Who ever complained

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that the means, by which he was brought to fear God, were too severe Or that any affliction, that increased and confirmed that fear, was too heavy? David indeed did at one time question the position in the text: but on recollection he condemned himself for his rashness and ignorance, and acknowledged that his vile suspicions contradicted the experience of God’s children in all ages [�ote: Psa_73:12-15; Psa_73:22.].]

On these grounds we “assuredly know” the truth declared in the text—

[We do not surmise it as a thing possible. We do not hope it as a thing probable. We absolutely know it as infallibly certain. We are not surer of our existence than we are of this truth. Without hesitation therefore we deliver our message [�ote: Isa_3:10-11.]. O that the word may sink deep into all our hearts! And that we might from experience unite our testimony to Solomon’s [�ote: Pro_28:14.].]

We beg leave to ask, whether they who fear not God, have any such assurance in their favour?

[We are aware that they will entertain presumptuous hopes; and that, in opposition to God’s word, they will expect happiness. But does the boldest sinner dare affirm that he knows it shall be well with him? His conscience would instantly revolt at such falsehood and blasphemy. Let those then, that fear not God, stand self-condemned. Let them flee unto their God and Saviour with penitence and faith. Let them so live us to preserve the testimony of a good conscience. And then, however enlarged their expectations of good may be, they shall never be disappointed [�ote: Isa_45:17.].]

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR, "Yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God.

The Christian’s welfare certified

In this verse the character and condition of sinners are contrasted with those of the righteous. However long the sinner lives in sin, and however prosperous he may seem to be, yet it shall be ill with him; but however it may seem sometimes to be with the righteous man, in the long run, it shall be well with him. The text is well calculated to check the folly and presumption of the sinner, and to comfort the righteous man in the trials of life; and especially in the apparent delay of justice in permitting the triumphs of the ungodly.

I. The persons who are here described—“them that fear God.” This is in the Word of God a common designation of the people of God. The fear of the Lord is emphasized as the beginning of wisdom. What is meant by this fear? What kind of fear is it? It is not servile fear. It may have that characteristic in its beginning; but it will not long continue in that atmosphere. The man who is learning a new language, or to speak his own correctly, speaks for a time laboriously under the fear of violating some grammatical rule; but after a time the knowledge of the language becomes a part of his very nature, and he rises above the fear of violating the rules of grammar and comes into the love of correct speech. So, starting in the Christian life on the low plane of fear in its lower senses, we rise into the perfect love of God which casteth out all fear; we love truth, holiness and

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God for their own sake; we would serve God if there were no hell to be shunned and no heaven to be won; we think little of either; the love of Christ constraineth us. We fear simply lest we may offend God, our Father, Friend, and Redeemer. This fear is filial. It is the fear of a son, and not that of a slave.

II. The promise concerning the people of God: “It shall be well with them.” It is not said that believers shall not have their share in the ordinary trials of life. The Bible nowhere promises us exemption from these trials. It does not assure us that we shall not go into the furnace, nor into the deep waters; but it does promise that the fire shall not consume us and the waters shall not overflow us. It is not said that Christians shall not have extraordinary trials. Christianity develops manhood; vastly enlarges the sphere of life. It gives a broader surface across which the winds of adversity may sweep. It gives greater possibilities of enjoyment; and these make greater trials certain. A Christian man is higher, deeper, and broader than other men are. He has more fully developed all his capacities both for joy and sorrow. The more our natures are developed, the greater, also, will be our responsibilities. Loyalty to God put Joseph into prison; made Elijah face cruel Ahab and wicked Jezebel; drove Daniel into a den of lions; hurled the three faithful Hebrews into the seven-times heated furnace; put Peter into the common prison, and Paul and Silas into the inner prison, with their feet fast in the stocks. But it was still well with them. This fact is the glory of our faith; this is the joy of our life in God. Joseph finds his prison the vestibule to the palace of the Pharaohs; Elijah’s fiery mission is but the prelude to the chariot of fire which carried him to glory and to God.

III. The absolute certainty here expressed. “Yet surely I know.” The inspired preacher had good grounds for his knowledge. Because of God’s character men may be sure that it will be well with those who fear Him. God must be right, God must do right. (R. S. MacArthur, D. D.)

Well with these who fear God

I. The character here mentioned—“them that fear God.” The fear of God is that principle which reverences God and respects His authority. It is one of the great blessings of the new covenant, produced in the heart by the Holy Spirit.

1. This fear is the result of regeneration. An unrenewed man does not fear God (Rom_3:18). But regeneration turns the heart from unlawful objects to God as the chief good.

2. This fear is the result of adoption. God is regarded as a Father, worthy of reverence and love.

3. This fear is manifested by hatred to that which is hateful to God.

4. Manifested by delighting in that which is pleasing to God. The fruits of the Spirit (Gal_5:22-23). Delight in His house, in His people, in His service, etc.

5. This fear is submission to His will. Their will is revealed in His Word; it is manifested in His appointments. As to doctrines, ordinances and precepts, I do not follow my own mind. In afflictions I do not resist or repine. “It is the Lord; let Him do as seemeth good in His sight.”

II. The happiness here referred to—“It shall be well with them.”

1. It is well with them already. Are they not saved from guilt and condemnation?

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Have they not hope? They “fear God,” and from that principle arises their happiness.

2. It shall be well with them hereafter. They are under the conduct of Divine providence. God appoints the bounds of their habitations. It shall be well in adversity. Well in death. The retrospect of life will give no pain. “The righteous hath hope in His death.” Well in the resurrection. The rearers of God will be raised to immortal life (Rom_8:11; Php_3:20-21). Well in the judgment day. It shall be well with them then. It shall be well with them for ever—“Their sun shall no more go down.”

III. The certainty here affirmed—“Surely I know.”

1. I know from experience. I never found happiness in sin—I have found it in the fear of God.

2. I know it from observation. “Mark the perfect man.” “Let me die the death of the righteous.” (Homilist.)

Five fears

Now, you will notice that fear may be yoked into the service of God. True fear, not fearing, but believing, saves the soul; not doubt, but confidence, is the strength and the deliverance of the Christian. Still, fear, as being one of those powers which God hath given us, is not in itself sinful. Fear may be used for the most sinful purposes; at the same time it may be so ennobled by grace, and so used for the service of God, that it may become the very grandest part of man. In fact, Scripture has honoured fear, for the whole of piety is comprehended in these words, “Fear God”: “the fear of the Lord”: “them that fear Him.” These phrases are employed to express true piety, and the men who possess it.

I. There is, first, the fear caused by an awakening conscience. This is the lowest grade of godly fear; here all true piety takes its rise. We shall never forget, to our dying day, that hour of desperate grief when first we discovered our lost estate. Sinner, it shall be well with thee if thou art now made to fear the wrath of God on account of thy sin; if God the Spirit hath poured forth the vials of Almighty wrath into thy soul, so that thou art cast down and sore vexed. Think not thou shalt be destroyed; it shall be well with thee. Your distresses are very painful, but they are not singular; others have had to endure the same. But I will tell thee something else to comfort thee; I will put this question to thee—Wouldst thou wish to go back and become what thou once wast? Sins are now so painful that thou canst scarce eat, or drink, or sleep.

II. There are many who have believed, and are truly converted, who have a fear which I may call the fear of anxiety. They are afraid that they are not converted. They are converted, there is no doubt of it. Sometimes they know they are so themselves, but, for the most part, they are afraid. First, they will tell you they are afraid they never repented enough; the work in their heart, s, they say, was not deep; it was just superficial surface-ploughing, and never entered into their souls. Then they are quite sure they never came to Christ aright; they think they came the wrong way. How that can be no one knows, for they could not come at all except the Father drew them; and the Father did not draw them the wrong way. They say they can trust Christ, but they are afraid they do not trust Him aright; and they always, do what you may, come back to the old condition; they are always afraid. And now, what shall I say to these good souls? Why, I will say this, “Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before Him.” Not only

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those who believe, but those who fear, have got a promise, I would to God that they had more faith; I would that they could lay hold on the Saviour, and had more assurance, and even attain unto a perfect confidence; but if they cannot, shall I utter a word that would hurt them? God forbid; “Surely it shall be well even with them that fear God, with them that fear before Him.”

III. And now, in the next place, there is a fear which works caution. When we get a little further advanced in the Christian life, our present state is not so much a matter of anxiety as our future state. These persons say, “I dare not join the Church, because I am afraid I shall fall.” That fear is good, in itself. But do you think that you would not bring disgrace on Christ’s cause as it is? You are always at the place of worship; you are never away. You were always looked upon as being one of the Church, though you have not made a profession. Now, if you were to sin, would it not dishonour the Church even now? And then I will ask you this question, Where do you think a man is safest,—in the paths of obedience, or in the paths of disobedience? You are afraid you will fall into sin—“Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before Him.” If you should tell me you were not afraid of falling, I would not have you in the Church for the world; you would be no Christian. I love your fear, and love you, too, for it; you are my brother and sister in Jesus ii you can truly say that you fear lest you should sin. Seek then, my friends, to grow in this fear of caution; obtain more and more of it; and whilst thou dost not distrust the Saviour, learn to distrust thyself more and more every day.

IV. I notice, in the next place, the fear which I may call the fear of jealousy. Strong love will usually promote jealousy. The true believer, when he gets his Saviour in full possession, and in blissful communion, is so jealous lest any rival should intrude in his heart; he is afraid lest his dearest friend should get more of his heart than the Saviour has. He is afraid of his wealth; he trembles at his health, at his fame, at everything that is dear to him, lest it should engross his heart. Oh, how often does he pray, “My Lord, let me not be of a divided spirit; cast down each idol—self-will, self-righteousness.” And I tell you the more he loves, the more he will fear lest he should provoke his Saviour by bringing a rival into his heart, and setting up Antichrist in his spirit; so that fear just goes in proportion to love; and the bright love is congenial, and must walk side by side with the deepest jealousy and the profoundest fear.

V. I will conclude by just mentioning that fear which is felt when we have had divine manifestations. Did you never, in the silence of the night, look up and view the stars, feeding, like sheep on the azure pastures of the sky? Have you never thought of those great worlds, far, far away, divided from us by ahnost illimitable leagues of space? Did you never, whilst musing on the starry heavens, lose yourself in thoughts of God? and have you never felt, at such a time, that you could say with Jacob, “How dreadful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and the very gate of heaven”? Now, this kind of fear if you have ever felt it, if it has been produced in your heart by contemplation of God, is a high and hallowed thing, and to you this promise is addressed—“Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before Him.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

K&D, "Ecclesiastes 8:12-13

“Because a sinner doeth evil an hundred times, and he becometh old therein, although I know that it will go well with them that fear god, that fear before Him: but it will not go well with the wicked, and he shall not live long, like a shadow; because he feareth not before God.” Ewald (whom Heiligst., Elst., and Zöckl. follow), as among the ancients,

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e.g., Mendelssohn, translates Ecc_8:12 : “Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and live long, yet I know,” etc. That an antecedent may begin with asher is admissible, Lev_4:22; Deu_18:22; but in the case lying before us, still less acceptable than at Ecc_8:11. For, in the first place, this asher of the antecedent cannot mean “although,” but only “considering that;” and in places such as Ecc_6:3, where this “considering that” may be exchanged with “although,” there follows not the part., but the fut. natural to the concessive clause; then, in the second place, by this antecedent rendering of asher a closer connection of Ecc_8:12 and Ecc_8:12 is indeed gained, but the mediation of Ecc_

8:12 and Ecc_8:11 is lost; in the third place, גם � ,in the meaning “however” (gam ,כיµως, with affirmative ki), is not found; not asher, but just this ki gam,

(Note: That ם! is pointed ם!, has its reason in the disjunctive Jethîb with כי, which is

not interchanged with the conjunctive Mahpach. Thus, Ecc_8:1, &( )& ,and Ecc_8:7 ,מי


signifies, in the passage before us, as at Ecc_4:14, ε,&καί, although, - only a somewhat

otherwise applied gam ki, Ewald, §362b, as כי&על־כן is a somewhat otherwise applied

Rightly, Hitzig: “In Ecc_8:12, Ecc_8:11 .על־כן&כי is again resumed, and it is explained

how tardy justice has such a consequence.” The sinner is thereby encouraged in sinning, because he does evil, and always again evil, and yet enjoys himself in all the pleasures of

long life. Regarding חטא for חטא, vid., above, p. 641, 1. מ8ת is = פעמים an hundred ,מ:ה

times, as 8חת, Job_40:5, is = אחת ,Hengst. and others, inexactly: an hundredfold ;פעם

which would have required the word מאתים; and falsely, Ginsburg, with the Targ.: an

hundred years, which would have required מ:ה, scil. שנה, Gen_17:17. This centies

(Jerome) is, like מ:ה, scil. בנים, Ecc_6:3, a round number for a great many, as at Pro_

17:10, and frequently in the Talm. and Midrash, e.g., Wajikra&rabba, c. 27: “an hundred

deeply-breathed sighs (מאה&פעיות) the mother gave forth.”

(Note: Vid., Jac. Reifmann in the Zeitsch., 1874 ,המגיד, p. 342.)

The meaning of לו ,is in general clear: he becomes therein old. Jerome ומעריך&לוimprobable: et per patientiam sustentatur, as Mendelssohn: he experiences

forbearance, for they supply 'pow (Isa_48:9), and make God the subject. וF is in any case the so-called dat. ethic.; and the only question is, whether the doing of evil has to be

taken from רע ,עשה

(Note: We expect these two words (cf. Gen_31:12) with the retrogression of the tone; but as this ceases, as a rule, with Mercha before Tifcha and Pashta, Gen_47:3;

Exo_18:5; Deu_4:42; Deu_19:4; Isa_10:14 (cf. the penult. accent of יאכל, Lev_22:10,

Lev_22:10, Lev_22:19, and נהH, Gen_4:17, with the ult. accent Lev_22:14; Hab_2:12), so with Mercha sometimes also before other disjunctives, as here before Tebîr.)

as obj. to ומא: he practises it to him long, or whether, which is more probable, ימים is to

be supplied after Ecc_8:13, so that האריך signifies to live long, as at Pro_28:2, to last

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long; the dat. ethic. gives the idea of the feeling of contentment connected with long life: he thereupon sins wantonly, and becomes old in it in good health.

That is the actual state of the case, which the author cannot conceal from himself; although, on the other hand, as by way of limitation he adds ki ... ani, he well knows that there is a moral government of the world, and that this must finally prevail. We may not translate: that it should go well, but rather: that it must go well; but there is no reason not to interpret the fut. as a pure indic.: that it shall go well, viz., finally, - it is a postulate of his consciousness which the author here expresses; that which exists in appearance

contradicts this consciousness, which, however, in spite of this, asserts itself. That to &ליר

,explaining idem per idem, is added, has certainly its reason in this ,אשר&מthe clause &F האל

that at the time of the author the name “fearers of God” [Gottesfürchitige] had come into

use. “The fearers of God, who fear before (פניFמ, as at Ecc_3:14) Him,” are such as are in reality what they are called.

In Ecc_8:13, Hitzig, followed by Elster, Burg., and Zöckl., places the division at ימים: like the shadow is he who fears not before God. Nothing can in point of syntax be said

against this (cf. 1Ch_29:15), although אשר J(, “like the shadow is he who,” is in point ofלstyle awkward. But that the author did not use so rude a style is manifest from Ecc_6:12,

according to which כצל is rightly referred to ולא־ ... ימים. Is then the shadow, asks Hitzig,

because it does not “prolong its days,” therefore ימים How subtle and literal is this ?קצר

use of ימים! Certainly the shadow survives not a day; but for that very reason it is short-

lived, it may even indeed be called קצר&ימים, because it has not existence for a single day.

In general, qetsel, Oς&σκιά, is applicable to the life of all men, Psa_144:4, Wisd. 2:5, etc. It

is true of the wicked, if we keep in view the righteous divine requital, especially that he is short-lived like the shadow, “because he has no fear before God,” and that in consequence of this want of fear his life is shortened by his sin inflicting its own punishment, and by the act of God. Asher, Ecc_8:13, as at Ecc_8:11, Ecc_8:12, is the

relative conj. Also in Ecc_8:14, (ש) אשר as a pronoun, and (ש) אשר as a conj., are mixed together. After the author has declared the reality of a moral government of the world as an inalienable fact of human consciousness, and particularly of his own consciousness, he places over against this fact of consciousness the actual state of things partly at least contradicting it.

BENSON, "Ecclesiastes 8:12-13. Though a sinner do evil a hundred times — Frequently, and innumerably; and his days be prolonged — The time of his life and prosperity; yet it shall be well with them that fear God — This implies both that good men might for a time suffer grievous things from tyrants, oppressors, and persecutors, and that it should be very ill with the wicked, which, INDEED, is expressed in the following verse: which fear before him — Who stand in awe of God, and fear and forbear to sin, out of a sincere regard and reverence for him. But it shall not be well with the wicked — That is, it shall go very ill with him; great miseries are prepared for him; neither shall he prolong his days — Namely, very long, as he desires; which are as a shadow — His life, though it may seem long, yet in truth is but a shadow, which will quickly vanish and disappear. Because he feareth not God — He is cut off, and this misery is prepared for him as the punishment of his casting off the fear and service of God.

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13 Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.

CLARK, "But it shall not be well with the wicked - Let not the long-spared sinner presume that, because sentence is not speedily executed on his evil works, and he is suffered to go on to his hundredth transgression, God has forgotten to punish. No, he feareth not before Good; and therefore he shall not ultimately escape.

GILL, "But it shall not be well with the wicked,.... It shall be ill with him; more is designed than is expressed, Isa_3:11; in life they have no solid peace and comfort; at death they will be turned into at judgment they will hear the awful sentence, "Go, ye cursed", and will be in torment to all eternity, Mat_25:41;

neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow: wicked men sometimes do not live out half their days, which, according to the course of nature, and common term of life, they might be thought to live; or if they prolong their days in wickedness, as sometimes they do, Ecc_7:15; yet their days at longest are but a shadow which declines, and is quickly gone; or, however, they do not attain to eternal life, which is sometimes meant by prolonging days, and is length of days for ever and ever, Isa_53:10; this they never enjoy; but when the righteous go into life lasting, they go into everlasting punishment. The reason of this is,

because he feareth not before God; the fear of God is not before his eyes, nor in his heart; he goes on in sin without fear of him, boldly and openly commits it, and instead of taking shame for it, or repenting of it, glories in it; stretches out his hand against God, and bids defiance to him, and desires not the knowledge of him, and refuses to obey him The Targum of the whole is,

"and it shall not be well with the wicked, and he shall have no space in the world to come; and in this world his days shall be cut off, and they shall flee and pass away as a shadow, because he fears not God.''

HE�RY, "These days shall not be prolonged to what he promised himself; he shall not live out half his days, Psa_55:23. Though they may be prolonged (Ecc_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

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cuts them off from all happiness.

JAMISO�, "neither shall he prolong— not a contradiction to Ecc_8:12. The “prolonging” of his days there is only seeming, not real. Taking into account his eternal existence, his present days, however seemingly long, are really short. God’s delay (Ecc_8:11) exists only in man’s short-sighted view. It gives scope to the sinner to repent, or else to fill up his full measure of guilt; and so, in either case, tends to the final vindication of God’s ways. It gives exercise to the faith, patience, and perseverance of saints.

shadow— (Ecc_6:12; Job_8:9).

PULPIT, "But it shall not be well with the wicked. If experience seemed often to militate against this assertion, Koheleth's faith prevailed against apparent contradictions. �either shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow. Above we read of a wicked man enjoying a long, untroubled life; here the contrary is stated. Such contradictions are seen every day. There are inscrutable reasons for the delay of judgment; but on the whole moral government is vindicated, and even the long life of a sinner is no blessing. The author of the Book of Wisdom writes (Wis. 4:8), "Honorable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that is measured by number of years;" and Isaiah (Isa_65:20), "The sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed." Man's life is compared to a shadow because it passes away with the setting sun (see on Ecc_6:12). The Vulgate, in order to obviate the apparent discrepancy between this and the preceding verses, renders the verb in a precatory form: �on sit bonum impio, etc; "Let it not be well with the wicked, and let his days not be prolonged; but let them pass away as a shadow who fear not the Lord." This is quite unnecessary; and the words, "as a shadow," according to the accents, belong to what precedes, as in the Authorized Version. Hitzig and others have adopted the Vulgate division, and render, "Like a shadow is he who fears not God." But there is no sufficient reason for disregarding the existing accentuation. Septuagint, "He shall not prolong his days in a shadow ( ἐν σκιᾷ )." Because he feareth not before God. This is the reason, looking to temporal retribution, why the wicked shall not live out half their days (Ecc_7:17; Pro_10:27; Psa_55:23). Koheleth cleaves to the doctrine received from old time, although facts seem often to contradict it.

YOU�G, "Here is a striking contrast between the sinner and those that fear God. The sinner, though he should live long enough to greatly multiply his iniquities, shall not find it well with him. Yet surely it shall be well with the right-eous. Solomon knew that it would, he says. He here seems evidently to refer to the future state. It shall be well with the righteous hereafter : not so with the wicked. Stuart says that the repetition of the idea of fearing God, —(Ver. 12) "them that fear God, which fear before him," —denotes " continual, habitual action. The repetition, then,

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must be for the sake of intensity. Both phrases — those who truly and habitually fear God." Stuart's remarks on this passage are so good that they should not be omitted. He gives a kind of paraphrase, thus : " What-ever advantage oppressors may gain, and however great the evils which they occasion, it remains true after all, and it is a consolation for the oppressed, that those who fear God shall sooner or later obtain their reward." He then adds : " In this world ? The tenor of the book is plainly

against this." " That it is in another world,

then, seems to be the necessary implication."

The 13th verse should probably be divided to read thus : " — neither shall he prolong his days. He is as a shadow because he feareth not before God." The wicked are like a varying cloud, a fleeting shadow. These verses teach a righteous retribution. " At the great day, there will be a clear discernment between the righteous and the wicked — between him that feareth, and him that feareth wo/— before God. (Mai. iii. 18.")*

These verses tell of a future retribution as it shall be. The next verse returns to the subject as seen in the light of this world, irrespective of another.

14 There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless.

BAR�ES, "Which is done upon the earth - The instance of vanity, to which these words are applied, is the seeming inequality of God’s justice; but if they are considered in connection with the profession of personal faith in God’s absolute justice Ecc_8:12, the conclusion is irresistible, that, whatever reason the Preacher had for reserve in declaring his belief, he certainly looked forward to final judgment in a future state of existence (compare Ecc_3:17; Ecc_12:14).

CLARK, "There be just men - See on Ecc_7:16 (note).

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GILL, "There is a vanity which is done upon the earth,.... Transacted in this lower world under the sun, through the permission and direction of divine Providence; not that it is a vanity on the part of God, who has wise ends to answer by it, for the good of his people, the trial of their graces, &c. or to bring sinners to repentance, or harden them in sin; but this shows the vanity and uncertainty of all worldly things, and that there is no happiness to be had in them;

that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked: to whom evil comes, as the Targum and Jarchi; who are treated as if they were wicked men, and dealt with in providence as sinners would be, if they had the just desert of their wicked works; being attended with poverty, sickness, and disgrace, and other calamities of life, as Job, Asaph, Lazarus, and others, and yet truly righteous and good men;

again, there be wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous; to whom good things come, as the Targum and Jarchi; who have an affluence of good things, all the outward blessings of life, as health, wealth, honour, long life, &c. as if they had lived the best of lives, and were the most righteous persons upon earth; see Job_21:7;

I said, that this also is vanity; this is said, as some think, according to the judgment of corrupt nature; or as it is apprehended by such who do not rightly consider the judgments of God and the wisdom of Providence in the ordering of things to answer good purposes; or rather the sense is, this is one of the miseries and infelicities of this life, and which demonstrates the emptiness of all things here below, and that the chief good and supreme happiness is not to be had here; but there is and must be a future state, when all things will be set right, and everyone will have and enjoy his proper portion.

HE�RY, "Wise and good men have, of old, been perplexed with this difficulty, how the prosperity of the wicked and the troubles of the righteous can be reconciled with the holiness and goodness of the God that governs the world. Concerning this Solomon here gives us his advice.I. He would not have us to be surprised at it, as though some strange thing happened,

for he himself saw it in his days, Ecc_8:14. 1. He saw just men to whom it happened according to the work of the wicked, who, notwithstanding their righteousness, suffered very hard things, and continued long to do so, as if they were to be punished for some great wickedness. 2. He saw wicked men to whom it happened according to the work of the righteous, who prospered as remarkably as if they had been rewarded for some good deed, and that from themselves, from God, from men. We see the just troubled and perplexed in their own minds, the wicked easy, fearless, and secure, - the just crossed and afflicted by the divine Providence, the wicked prosperous, successful, and smiled upon, - the just, censured, reproached, and run down, by the higher powers, the wicked applauded and preferred.

II. He would have us to take occasion hence, not to charge God with iniquity, but to charge the world with vanity. No fault is to be found with God; but, as to the world, This is vanity upon the earth, and again, This is also vanity, that is, it is a certain evidence

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that the things of this world are not the best things nor were ever designed to make a portion and happiness for us, for, if they had, God would not have allotted so much of this world's wealth to his worst enemies and so much of its troubles to his best friends; there must therefore be another life after this the joys and griefs of which must be real and substantial, and able to make men truly happy or truly miserable, for this world does neither.

JAMISO�, "An objection is here started (entertained by Solomon in his apostasy), as in Ecc_3:16; Ecc_7:15, to the truth of retributive justice, from the fact of the just and the wicked not now receiving always according to their respective deserts; a cavil, which would seem the more weighty to men living under the Mosaic covenant of temporal sanctions. The objector adds, as Solomon had said, that the worldling’s pursuits are “vanity” (Ecc_8:10), “I say (not ‘said’) this also is vanity. Then I commend mirth,” etc. [Holden]. Ecc_8:14, Ecc_8:15 may, however, be explained as teaching a cheerful, thankful use of God’s gifts “under the sun,” that is, not making them the chief good, as sensualists do, which Ecc_2:2; Ecc_7:2, forbid; but in “the fear of God,” as Ecc_3:12; Ecc_5:18; Ecc_7:18; Ecc_9:7, opposed to the abstinence of the self-righteous ascetic (Ecc_7:16), and of the miser (Ecc_5:17).

BENSON 14-15, "Ecclesiastes 8:14-15. There is a vanity which is done upon the earth —Either by wicked potentates, who do commonly advance unworthy men, and oppress persons of the greatest virtue and merit: or, by God’s providence, who sees it fit for many weighty reasons so to manage the affairs of the present world. To whom it happeneth, &c. — Who meet with such usage as the worst of men deserve. There be wicked men to whom it happeneth — Who, instead of those punishments which they deserve, receive those REWARDS which are due to virtuous men. This also is vanity — This is a very unreasonable thing, if it be considered without respect unto another life, as it is here, where Solomon is discoursing of the vanity of the present life, and of the impossibility of finding satisfaction and happiness in it. Then I commended mirth — Hebrew, ה�מחה, joy or gladness. Upon these considerations I concluded, that it was most advisable for a man not to perplex and torment himself with the thoughts of the seeming inequality of the dispensations of Divine Providence, and of the great disorders which are in the world, or with cares and fears about future temporal events, or with insatiable desires of worldly things, but quietly, cheerfully, and thankfully to enjoy the comforts which God gives him. See notes on Ecclesiastes 2:24 ; Ecclesiastes 3:12-13; for that shall abide with him of his labour, &c. — This is the best advantage which he can make of this world’s goods, as to the present life.

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR, "There be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked.

Apparent discrepancy between character and circumstances

There is doubtless a law for everything in heaven and on earth; a systematic connection between cause and effect, alike in the physical, moral and spiritual existences. Our wise men acknowledge this, and find in the heavens above and the earth beneath, as far as their intellects can penetrate, a sequence and an irrevocable destiny in everything they study. But as for the laws that morally govern the world, that give rise to its convulsions and preserve its peace, that dismay us now and overjoy us then, that frustrate our plans or help us to attain our desires, from the dismemberment of a kingdom to the trivialities

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of existence—these laws are unwritten. The Almighty has set the machinery of nature in motion, and its action is unchangeable till its destiny is attained. But He sits with the sceptre of His moral government in His hands, and the rules by which He governs, and the ends He means to attain, we know not; and it is this ignorance of the Almighty’s plans which baffles our little hopes. It is with this dissimilitude of events as they occur with those we had hoped and striven for, and by probability led ourselves to expect, that our text has to do. It deals with the apparent reversal in many cases of an ordinary law, and shows the utter impossibility of human minds gaining any clue to the moral events which happen, or may happen, around us. Men make use of their limited wisdom to produce a desired effect. If that effect is not gained they abandon their attempts. The initiative is their own, and they abandon it as they please. Far otherwise is it, however, in matters of moral or spiritual import. The initiative is not man’s, but the Almighty’s. Eternal life is not a bait held out for our greed to clutch at, but rather a spontaneous reward for our obedience and love. That this is clearly a principle, our text teaches, and everyday life verifies. The good man in this world often meets with the treatment, and is placed in the circumstances, which attend the career of the vilest; while the wicked man oft sits in the highest place, and mockingly sways his prostrate courtiers with the arrogant pretentiousness of a usurped power. He thinks his position is the reward of his genius, and scoffs at the idea of anything having to do with his elevation but himself. These reversed positions clearly show that the reward or punishment of the good or wicked does not necessarily begin, and clearly does not end, with this mortal life. This, to a good man, is a source of joy. He forgets his present ignominy in his future hopes: the present calamity he takes as an earnest for his future bliss. The wicked man, however, often has somewhat of his own way in the world. He takes the present as his all, and is satisfied therewith. He wants no future reward: his enjoyment now is ample, and instead of taking warning from the position of the good man as indicative of what his position ought possibly to be, his gratified senses and pampered vanity stifle his reason and destroy his conscience, and he descends to the grave in a false position to open his appalled eyes in the one belonging to him. (Homilist.)


"There is a vanity which is done upon the earth, that there are righteous men unto whom it happeneth ACCORDING to the work of the wicked; again there are wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said, This also is vanity. Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be joyful: for that which shall abide with him in his labor all the days of his life which God hath given him under the sun."

"There is a vanity done upon the earth" (Ecclesiastes 8:14). "This says that the righteous get what the wicked deserve, and that the wicked get what the righteous deserve."[29]

What strikes us in this is Solomon's apparent ignorance of the Torah, or at least his total indifference to what is written there. The epic truth that righteous men unjustly suffer and are cut down in the prime of life, while the wicked prosper is dramatically illustrated by the Biblical ACCOUNT of the murder of Able and the subsequent prosperity of the man who murdered him. The conceited notion here that Solomon learned all that about such things from what he "had seen under the sun" is ridiculous. As a matter of simple fact, Solomon himself is the classical example of the wicked man being prospered "as it

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should have happened to a righteous man."

"Eat ... drink be joyful" (Ecclesiastes 8:15). Solomon's RECOMMENDATION as the solution for all these exceptions to what should have been was his own version of Epicureans: "Eat drink and enjoy life." Again and again this is the recommendation that Solomon repeated over and over again in Ecclesiastes.

YOU�G, "This vanity is done upon earth, (not in another world,)

that to just men it happens according to the work of the

wicked, and to wicked men it happeneth according to the

work of the righteous. We see the same thing every day.

By the good and evil which men receive in this hfe, we

must either suppose that all is chance without any Ruler,

or that God cares nothing for virtue or vice. This verse

corresponds exactly in sentiment with vii. 15, where a just

man perishes in his righteousness, and a wicked man pro-

longs his life in his wickedness. But it is a view which

Solomon takes from the stand-point of this world. It is a

surface view of the matter. It is looking upon life as

though there were no future. It is a return to the text,

" What advantage has life without another life ?" But the

end is not yet. It will appear hereafter that all things

have worked together for good to the righteous.

PULPIT, "There is a vanity which is done upon the earth. The vanity is named in what follows, viz. the seeming injustice it, the distribution of good and evil. There be just men, unto whom it happeneth ACCORDI�G to the work of the wicked (comp. Ecc_8:10; Ecc_3:16). The melancholy fact is noted that the righteous often experience that fate with which the wicked ,are threatened, which their conduct might be expected to bring upon them. The verb translated "happeneth" (naga), with el, "to come to," "strike against," is thus used only in later Hebrew, e.g. Est_9:26. According to the work of the righteous. The wicked meet with that outward prosperity and success which were thought to be the special reward of those who served God. The Vulgate is explanatory, "There are just men whom evils befall as if they did the works of the wicked; and there are wicked men who are as free from care as if they had the deeds of the just." Commenting on Job_34:10, Job_34:11, St. Gregory writes, "It is by no means always the case in this life that God renders to

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each man according to his work and according to his own ways. For both many who commit unlawful and wicked deeds he prevents of his free grace, and converts to works of holiness; and some who are devoted to good deeds he reproves by means of the scourge, and so afflicts those who please him, as though they were displeasing to him …. God doubtless so ordains it of his inestimable mercy, that both scourges should torture the just, lest their doings should elate them, and that the unjust should pass this life at least without punishment, because by their evil doings they are hastening onwards to those torments which are without end. For that the just are sometimes scourged in no way according to their deserts is shown by this history of Job. Elihu, therefore, would speak more truly it' he had said that there is not unmercifulness and iniquity in God, even when he seems not to render to men according to their ways. For even that which we do lint understand is brought forth from the righteous balance of secret judgment" ('Moral.,' 24:44). Koheleth ends by repeating his melancholy refrain, I said that this also (indeed) is vanity. This conclusion, however, does not lead to despair or infidelity.

PULPIT 14-15, "A misunderstood providence and a mistaken judgment.


1. The providence is undeniable. "There be righteous men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked;" and "there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous." Of the former, Joseph, David, Job, Asaph, and Jeremiah were examples; as also the apostles and early Christians, the martyrs and confessors of the �ew Testament Church. Of the latter, �oah's sons, who, though not themselves righteous, were saved in the ark; Pharaoh's butler, who, though guilty of having conspired against the king's life, was nevertheless spared; Haman, who for a time at least flourished, though he was essentially a bad man—besides others—may be cited as examples.

2. The providence is inevitable. The constitution of the world being what it is, and the human family interlaced and interdependent as it is, it is impossible but that calamities should sometimes fall upon the righteous, and blessings descend upon the heads of the wicked, and that occasionally even wicked men should be deliberately treated as if they were righteous, and righteous men rewarded as if they were wicked. Good men often suffer the consequences of other people's evil deeds, and vice versa bad men reap the benefits of other people's good works.

3. The providence is mysterious. That such things should occur in a world presided over by an all-wise and all-powerful as well as holy and just God, who loves righteousness and. hates iniquity, is undoubtedly "hard to be understood," and for the full solution of the enigma it is more than likely the clearer light of the future must be awaited.

4. The providence is symbolic. At least it has its counterpart in the spiritual world—in the experience of Christ the Righteous One, who was numbered with transgressors (Mar_15:28), and made sin for us, though he knew no sin (2Co_5:21);

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and in that of believers, who, though personally sinful and unrighteous, are yet accepted as righteous in God's sight, and treated as such on account of the righteousness of Christ (Rom_3:25, Rom_3:26; 1Co_1:30; 2Co_5:21; Eph_1:6).

K&D, "“There is a vanity which is done on the earth; that there be just men, to whom it happeneth according to the conduct of the wicked; and that there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the conduct of the righteous - I said, that also this is vain.” The limiting clause with ki gam, Ecclesiastes 8:12 , Ecclesiastes 8:13, is subordinated to the observation specified in Ecclesiastes 8:10-12 , and the confirmation of it is CONTINUED here in Ecclesiastes 8:14. Regarding הגיע, to happen, vid., above, p. 639, under נגע. Jerome translates כם הר by quasi opera egerint impiorum, and כם הץ by quasi justorum facta habeant; instar operis … would be better, such as is conformable to the mode of acting of the one and of the other; for כ is in the Semitic style of speech a nomen, which annexes to itself the word that follows it in the genitive, and runs through all the relations of case. This contradictory distribution of destiny deceives, misleads, and causes to err; it belongs to the illusory shadowy side of this present life, it is a hevel. The concluding clause of this verse: “I said, that also this is vain,” begins to draw the facit from the observation, and is CONTINUED in the verse following.

15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.

BAR�ES, "Mirth - Better, Gladness, or “joy” (as in Ecc_2:10). The Hebrew word is applied not only to the pleasures arising from the physical senses, but also frequently to religious joy. The sentiment of this verse is a frequent conclusion of the writer’s personal experience (compare marginal references), and is unfairly charged with Epicureanism. The Preacher is careful to set forth pleasure as a gift from God, to be earned by labor, and received with thankfulness to the Giver, and to be accounted for to Him. His estimate of the pleasures of the senses is recorded in Ecc_7:2-6.

CLARK, "Then I commended mirth - These are some more of the cavils of the infidel objector: “Since virtue is frequently under oppression, and vice triumphs in health, and rolls in wealth, I see plainly that we should not trouble ourselves about future things; and therefore should be governed by the maxim Ede, Bibe, Lude. Post mortem nulla voluptas.”

Eat, drink, and play,While here you may;

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For soon as deathHas stopp’d your breathYe ne’er shall see a cheerful day.

GILL, "Then I commended mirth,.... Innocent mirth, a cheerfulness of spirit in whatsoever state condition men are; serenity and tranquillity of mind, thankfulness for what they have, and a free and comfortable use of it; this the wise man praised and recommended to good men, as being much better than to fret at the prosperity of the wicked, and the seemingly unequal distribution of things in this world, and because they had not so much of them: as others; who yet had reason to be thankful for what they had, and to lift up their heads and be cheerful, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God in another world. The Targum interprets it of the joy of the law;

because a man hath no better thing under the sun than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry; of earthly things there is nothing better than for a man freely and cheerfully, with moderation and thankfulness, to enjoy what God has given him; this is what had been observed before, Ecc_2:24; and is not the language of an epicure, or a carnal man, who observing that no difference is made between the righteous and the wicked, that it is as well or better with the wicked than the righteous, determines to give up himself to sensual lusts and pleasures; but it is the good and wholesome advice of the wise man, for men to be easy under every providence, satisfied with their present condition and circumstances, and be cheerful and pleasant, and not distress themselves about things they cannot alter;

for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life,

which God giveth him under the sun; man's present life is under the sun, and is continued as long as it pleases God; though it is but short, rather to be counted by days than years, and is a laborious one; and all that he gets by his labour, enjoyed by him, is to eat and drink cheerfully; and this he may expect to have and continue with him as long as he lives, even food and raiment, and with this he should be content.

HE�RY, "He would have us not to fret and perplex ourselves about it, or make ourselves uneasy, but cheerfully to enjoy what God has given us in the world, to be content with it and make the best of it, though it be much better with others, and such as we think very unworthy (Ecc_8:15): Then I commended joy, a holy security and serenity of mind, arising from a confidence in God, and his power, providence, and promise, because a man has no better thing under the sun (though a good man has much better things above the sun) than to eat and drink, that is, soberly and thankfully to make use of the things of this life according as his rank is, and to be cheerful, whatever happens, for that shall abide with him of his labour. That is all the fruit he has for himself of the pains that he takes in the business of the world; let him therefore take it, and much good may it do him; and let him not deny himself that, out of a peevish discontent because the world does not go as he would have it. That shall abide with him during the days of his life which God gives him under the sun. Our present life is a life under the sun, but we look for the life of the world to come, which will commence and continue when the sun shall be turned into darkness and shine no more. This present life must be reckoned by days; this life is given us, and the days of it are allotted to us, by the counsel of God, and therefore while it does last we must accommodate ourselves to the will of God and study

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to answer the ends of life.

JAMISO�, "no better thing, etc.— namely, for the “just” man, whose chief good is religion, not for the worldly.

abide— Hebrew, “adhere”; not for ever, but it is the only sure good to be enjoyed from earthly labors (equivalent to “of his labor the days of his life”). Still, the language resembles the skeptical precept (1Co_15:32), introduced only to be refuted; and “abide” is too strong language, perhaps, for a religious man to apply to “eating” and “mirth.”

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR, "Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry.

The benefits of wholesome recreation

Viewed by itself, and apart from its context and from the rest of the argument of the wise king, this sentiment might seem to partake very much of the spirit of the Epicureans, so strongly condemned by St. Paul—“Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die”: but when we come to look closely into it, we find that it would be a manifest perversion of the whole passage to apply it in any such Epicurean sense. The man to whom he refers, as the one who is encouraged “to eat and to drink and to be merry,” is not the idle drone whose whole life is spent in self-indulgence, or in the pursuit of pleasure; not the Dives who fares sumptuously every day while so many around have scarcely wherewithal to purchase the scanty meal—but he, whose whole attention has been hitherto absorbed in some toilsome and laborious pursuit; he who has, so to speak, been the slave of wealth, or ambition, or pleasure, or business—the seeker after worldly wisdom—or, in fine, the man so filled with anxiety and care about the objects of his desire, as to need this salutary warning how better to employ his days. Thus, if we might venture to paraphrase the passage, we should assume it to bear some such an import as the following:—“Be not so wrapt up in the cares or concerns of this life, oh! ye foolish sons of men, as to forget the grand end and aim of your being. There are, indeed, many things well worthy of your attainment, but none of so solid and enduring a character as to justify your total absorption in the pursuit of them. Lose not the real enjoyment of life by devoting it thus unremittingly to any earthly end. While thus toiling to secure some fancied good, you are really allowing to escape those fleeting moments which should be devoted to some loftier purpose. Aim first and chiefly to attain the heavenly wisdom, for ‘this alone will bring peace at the last.’ And then, with regard to all earthly schemes of happiness, let not your pursuit of the problematic future deprive you of the lawful enjoyment of present good, but ‘having food and raiment be therewith content.’ ‘Eat, drink and be merry.’ Cultivate a cheerful and a happy frame of mind, as opposed to that gloomy, over-anxious, ever-toiling disposition, which you now possess—as is the cold, cheerless mantle of night to the glow and warmth of the midday sun—for this calm and tranquil state shall abide with you, and give you enjoyment in the midst of your labour all the days of your life which God giveth you under the sun.” And who does not perceive the consonance of this advice with the more plain and direct teaching of our Lord and His inspired apostles? Who does not recognize in this Old Testament warning the foreshadowing of those deep and wholesome truths which Christ announced in tits famous sermon from the Mount? “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” But rather “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Who does not trace in the

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language of Solomon the workings of that same Spirit which inspired St. Paul to say, “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God”—“Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice”? Not, then, in antagonism to the spirit of the New Testament, but in perfect accordance with it, does Solomon, in the words of my text, recommend the rational enjoyment of the good things of this life. In what, then, does rational enjoyment or recreation consist? I think we may safely answer this question by the obvious reply—“In the moderate use of all the gifts of God’s good providence, and in the healthful cultivation of all these faculties the improvement of which can tend to His honour or glory.” Under this head, then, as you will perceive, so far as bodily refection is concerned, we should include the temperate use of all healthful articles, whether of food or of drink. “Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth a man.” God makes no distinction either of meats or drinks, provided we use all lawfully, to the just refreshment and strengthening of the body, not to its undue pampering, or mere carnal gratification. And so, also, with regard to questions of bodily or mental recreation. Healthful exercise, whether for the body or mind, may allowably be included under the Preacher’s commendation of rational “mirth.” The Scriptures have net prescribed to us what species of mirth to select, nor what to avoid. They have evidently left it as a matter of conscience, to the feelings and experience of every Christian, to choose his own most appropriate mode of rejoicing, provided, as in the former case, that even allowable mirth be not carried beyond the limits of moderation, and degenerate into senseless hilarity. It is true that St. James exhorts, “Is any merry? let him sing psalms”: but this advice is more of the nature of a permission than a command; and it is clearly evident, that with very many the literal interpretation of this precept, if it be correctly translated, would be impracticable, seeing that they are altogether devoid of musical tendencies. This passage, then, so far from limiting, as it has been supposed to do, the exhibition of our cheerful tendencies to psalm-singing alone, seems to me to make quite for the opposite view, and would apparently sanction the employment of any musical agency, and, by a parity of reasoning, of any other equally harmless and humanizing source of amusement as a justifiable mode of exhibiting a mirthful spirit before the Lord. (F F. Statham, B. A.).

PULPIT, "Then (and) I commended mirth. In face of the anomalies which meet us in our view of life, Koheleth recommends the calm enjoyment of such blessings and comforts as we possess, in exact accordance with what has already been said (Ecc_2:24; Ecc_3:12, Ecc_3:22; Ecc_5:18), though the road by which he arrives at the conclusion is not identical in both cases. In the earlier chapters the injunction is based on man's inability to be the MASTER OF his own fate; in the present passage the inscrutable nature of the law that directs God's moral government leads to the advice to make the best of circumstances. In neither instance need we trace veiled Epicureanism. The result obtained is reached by acute observation supplemented by faith in God. Under the sun. The phrase occurs twice in this verse and again in Ecc_8:17, and implies that the view taken was limited to man's earthly existence. To eat, and to drink, etc. This is not a commendation of a greedy, voluptuous life, but an injunction thankfully to enjoy the good provided by God without disquieting one's self with the mysteries of Providence. So it was said of Israel in its palmy days (1Ki_4:20), "Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry." For that shall abide with him of his labor;

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rather, and that this should accompany him in his labor. The Greek Version regards the verb as indicative, not subjunctive, nor, as others, as jussive: "This shall attend ( συµπροσέσται ) him in his work." But it seems better to consider Koheleth as saying that the happiest thing for a man is to make the best of what he has, and to take with him in all his work a cheerful and contented heart.

K&D, "“And I commended joy, that there is nothing better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and enjoy himself; and that this accompanies him in his labour throughout all the days of his life, which God hath given him under the sun.” We ALREADY read the ultimatum, 15a, in a similar form at Ecclesiastes 2:24; Ecclesiastes 3:12, Ecclesiastes 3:22; cf. Ecclesiastes 5:17. With הוא יל either begins a new clause, and the fut. is then jussive: “let this accompany him,” or it is subordinate to the foregoing infinitives, and the fut. is then subjunctive: et ut id eum comitetur. The lxx and other Greeks TRANSLATE less appropriately indicat.: καὶ αὐτὸ συµπροσέσται αὐτῷ . Thus also Ewald, Hengst., Zöckl., and others: and this clings to him, which, however, would rather be expressed by לו יתרון והוא or וה חלקו. The verb לוה (R. לו, to twist, to bend) does not mean to cling to = to remain, but to adhere to, to follow, to accompany; cf. under Genesis 18:16. The possibility of the meaning, “to accompany,” for the Kal, is supported by the derivatives לויה and לווי (particularly לוית המתים, convoy of the dead); the verb, however, in this signification extra-bibl. is found only in Pih. and Hiph.

16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man's labor on earth-his eyes not seeing sleep day or night-

BAR�ES, "These verses supplement Ecc_8:15 with the reflection that the man who goes beyond that limited sphere within which he can labor and be contented, and investigates the whole work of God, will find that his finite intelligence cannot grasp it.


Business - Or, “travail” Ecc_1:13; Ecc_3:10. The sleeplessness noted probably refers to the writer himself.

CLARK, "When I applied mine heart to know wisdom - This is the reply of the wise man: “I have also considered these seeming contradictions. God governs the world; but we cannot see the reasons of his conduct, nor know why he does this, omits that, or permits a third thing. We may study night and day, and deprive ourselves of rest and sleep, but we shall never fathom the depths that are in the Divine government; but all is right and just. This is the state of probation; and in it neither can the wicked be

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punished, nor the righteous rewarded. But eternity is at hand; and then shall every man receive according to his works. He that spends his life in the eat, drink, and play, will find in that day that he has lost the time in which he could have prepared for eternity.

GILL, "When I applied mine heart to know wisdom,.... The nature and causes of things; the wisdom of God in his providence, and the grounds and reasons of his various dispensations towards the children of men: the Targum interprets it, the wisdom of the law;

and to see the business that is done upon the earth; either the business of Providence, in dealing so unequally with the righteous and the wicked, before observed; and which is a business very afflictive and distressing for curious persons to look into, not being able to account for it: or the labour and toil of men to get wealth and riches, and to find happiness in them;

(for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes); or has any sleep in his eyes, through his eager pursuit after worldly things, or, however, has but little; he rises early and sits up late at his business, so close and diligent is he at it, so industrious to obtain riches, imagining a happiness in them there is not: or else this describes persons curious and inquisitive into the affairs of Providence, and the reasons of them; who give themselves no rest, day nor night, being so intent upon their studies of this kind; and perhaps the wise man may design himself.

HE�RY, " He would not have us undertake to give a reason for that which God does, for his way is in the sea and his path in the great waters, past finding out, and therefore we must be contentedly and piously ignorant of the meaning of God's proceedings in the government of the world, Ecc_8:16, Ecc_8:17. Here he shows, 1. That both he himself and many others had very closely studied the point, and searched far into the reasons of the prosperity of the wicked and the afflictions of the righteous. He, for his part, had applied his heart to know this wisdom, and to see the business that is done, by the divine Providence, upon the earth, to find out if there were any certain scheme, any constant rule or method, by which the affairs of this lower world were administered, any course of government as sure and steady as the course of nature, so that by what is done now we might as certainly foretel what will be done next as by the moon's changing now we can foretel when it will be at the full; this he would fain have found out. Others had likewise set themselves to make this enquiry with so close an application that they could not find time for sleep, either day or night, nor find in their hearts to sleep, so full of anxiety were they about these things. Some think Solomon speaks of himself, that he was so eager in prosecuting this great enquiry that he could not sleep for thinking of it.

JAMISO�, "Reply to Ecc_8:14, Ecc_8:15. When I applied myself to observe man’s toils after happiness (some of them so incessant as not to allow sufficient time for “sleep”), then (Ecc_8:17, the apodosis) I saw that man cannot find out (the reason of) God’s inscrutable dealings with the “just” and with the “wicked” here (Ecc_8:14; Ecc_3:11; Job_5:9; Rom_11:33); his duty is to acquiesce in them as good, because they are God’s, though he sees not all the reasons for them (Psa_73:16). It is enough to know “the righteous are in God’s hand” (Ecc_9:1). “Over wise” (Ecc_7:16); that is, Speculations

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above what is written are vain.

PULPIT, "When I applied mine heart (Ecc_1:13). The answering member of the sentence is in Est_8:17, the last clause of the present verse being parenthetical. To know wisdom. This was his first study (see on Ecc_1:16). He endeavored to acquire wisdom which might enable him to investigate God's doings. His second study was to see the business that is done upon the earth; i.e. not only to learn what men do in their several stations and callings, but likewise to understand what all this means, what it tends to, its object and result. (For "business," inyan, see on Ecc_1:13.) The Vulgate here renders it distentionem, "distraction," which is like the Septuagint περισπασµόν . For also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes. This is a parenthetical clause expressing either the restless, unrelieved labor that goes on in the world, or the sleepless meditation of one who tries to solve the problem of the order and disorder in men's lives. In the latter case, Koheleth may be giving his own experience. To "see sleep" is to enjoy sleep. The phrase is not found elsewhere in the Old Testament, but commentators quote parallels from classical sources. Thus Terence, 'Heautontim.,' 3.1.82—

"Somnum hercle ego hac nocte cculis non vidi reels."

"�o sleep mine eyes have seen this livelong night."

Cicero, 'Ad Famil.,' 8.30, "Fuit mittflea vigilantia, qui tote sue consulatuson, hum non vidit." Of course, the expression is hyperbolical. The same idea is found without metaphor in such passages as Psa_132:4; Pro_6:4.

SBC, "I. At the end of chap. viii. and the beginning of chap. ix., Koheleth points out that it is impossible for us to construct a satisfactory policy of life. "The work of God," or, as we say, the ways of Providence, cannot be fathomed. To the wisest man, labour as he may, the drift of the Maker is dark. The enjoyment of life, he says, is your portion; that is, your destiny, your duty, your end. Therefore, whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might. The only thing in the universe we can be sure about is pleasure. Therefore let us get pleasure while we may.

II. He has shown us the uncertainty and consequent uselessness of piety. He has shown us that good men and bad men experience joy and sadness indiscriminately, and at last meet with the same fate of death. He now proceeds to poi;t out (Ecc_9:11) the uselessness of "wisdom and skill," of what we should call ability. Misfortunes come upon the most deserving, and they cannot be foreseen. And besides the thwarting of Providence, able men have to suffer from the ingratitude of their fellows. The world is slow to reward the ability to which it owes so much. Sometimes it does happen that the advice of a wise man is taken in spite of his being poor. But one fool (not sinner) destroyeth much good. The fool is a great power in the world, especially the conceited fool. His self-assurance is mistaken for knowledge, while the modesty of the wise man is thought to be ignorance.

III. It may strike you as strange that among the various aims in life which Koheleth discusses he never mentions character. And yet it would have been stranger if he had.

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For what is the good of character to a being who may at any moment be turned into clay? Convince me that I must be extinguished some day, and that I may be extinguished any day, and I, too, should agree with Koheleth that my only rational course was to enjoy to the utmost the few moments that might be vouchsafed to me. Let me feel, on the other hand, that I carry latent within me "the power of an endless life," and that some day in the great hereafter it is possible I may find myself "perfect even as God is perfect," and then I can despise pleasure; I can see beauty in pain; I can gather up the energies of my being and consecrate them to righteousness and to God with enthusiastic and unwavering devotion.

A. W. Momerie, Agnosticism, p. 252.

Ecclesiastes 8:16-12:7

I. The Preacher commences this section by carefully defining his position and equipment as he starts on his last course. (1) His first conclusion is that wisdom, which of all temporal goods still stands foremost with him, is incapable of yielding a true content. Much as it can do for man, it cannot solve the moral problems which daily task and afflict his heart, the problems which he must solve before he can be at peace (8:16-9:6). (2) He reviews the pretensions of Wisdom and mirth (Ecc_9:7-10). To the baffled and hopeless devotee of wisdom he says, "Go, then, eat thy bread with gladness, and drink thy wine with a cheerful heart. Whatever you can get, get; whatever you can do, do. You are on your road to the dark, dismal grave, where there is no work nor device; there is the more reason therefore why your journey should be a merry one." (3) He shows that the true good is not to be found in devotion to affairs and its rewards (9:13-10:20).

II. What the good is, and where it may be found, the Preacher now proceeds to show. (1) The first characteristic of the man who is likely to achieve the quest of the chief good is the charity which prompts him to be gracious, and show kindness, and do good, even to the thankless and ungracious. (2) The second characteristic is the steadfast industry which turns all seasons to account. Diligent and undismayed, he goes on his way, giving himself heartily to the present duty, "sowing his seed, morning and evening, although he cannot tell which shall prosper, this or that, or whether both shall prove good." (3) This man has learned one or two of the profoundest secrets of wisdom. He has learned that giving, we gain; and spending, thrive. He has also learned that a man’s true care is himself; that his true business in the world is to cultivate a strong, dutiful character which shall prepare him for any world or any fate. He recognises the claims of duty and of charity, and does not reject these for pleasure. These keep his pleasures sweet and wholesome, prevent them from usurping the whole man and landing him in the weariness and satiety of disappointment. But lest even these safeguards should prove insufficient, he has also this: he knows that "God will bring him into judgment;" that all his work, whether of charity, or duty, or recreation, will be weighed in the balance of Divine justice (Ecc_9:9). This is the simple secret of the pure heart—the heart that is kept pure amid all labours, and cares, and joys.

S. Cox, The Quest of the Chief Good, p. 221.


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"When I APPLIED my 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 man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because however much a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea, moreover, though a wise man seek to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it."

The problem in Ecclesiastes is exactly that which was encountered in the Book of JOB, namely, can the eternal righteousness and justice of God be reconciled with the glaring instances cited in Ecclesiastes 8:14, where the righteous received what the wicked deserved and the wicked received what the righteous deserved? Loader, and other scholars, believe that the author of Ecclesiastes believed that this was impossible. "The answer for the Preacher is no."[31] This writer cannot accept that; and even if that interpretation is correct, it would mean that Solomon himself was grossly in ERROR by such an allegation. Job accepted both the anomalies of life and the eternal righteousness and justice of God as absolutely compatible; and we believe, in his conclusion, that Solomon also did this.

Certainly, any fool knows that "All is not right with the world," and that all kinds of injustices and gross wickedness prevail everywhere; but none of this can be intelligently charged as God's fault, in any degree whatever. Man's freedom of the will, his decision to serve Satan rather than God, the fact of God's displeasure with man's rebellious condition (evidenced by his cursing the ground for Adam's sake), the strange fact of the children of darkness being in many instances wiser than the children of light, the impartiality in natural disasters, and the capricious results of chance happening to all men alike .... it is these things that cause startling miscarriages of justice CONTINUALLY throughout the world. Yet back of it all, the justice and mercy of God prevail eternally.

"Though a wise man seek to know it, yet shall he be not able to find it out" (Ecclesiastes 8:17). Solomon here says that, "Even a wise man like himself cannot fathom the ways of God's providence."[32]

Solomon often stressed the idea of "eat, drink, and be joyful"; but he never cited these things as the ultimate happiness, always mentioning along with them the toil, uncertainty, brevity of life, etc. as foils, even of these blessings. Kidner understood Solomon's real intention when he wrote, "He gives us a ray of hope in the words, `all the work of God' (Ecclesiastes 8:17), for it is God's work that battles us; life is not `a tale told by an idiot.'"[33]

Loader also supposed that Solomon here attributes the riddle that he has seen to the action of God.[34] This is true. Adam's expulsion from Eden, the ensuing enmity between Satan and the seed of woman, the curse upon the earth, etc. - these were key elements in man's earthly wretchedness.

The unfathomable mysteries of life and all of the hidden things that belong to God come to mind as we read these verses. "This unsearchable nature of divine things is similarly proclaimed in Job 11:6-9 and in Romans 11:33."[35]

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BENSON, "Ecclesiastes 8:16. When I APPLIED my heart to know wisdom — He seems to be here assigning the reason of that judgment which he had now passed, (Ecclesiastes 8:15,) which reason is, that he had diligently STUDIED wherein man’s wisdom consists, and had observed the restlessness of men’s minds and bodies in other courses; and to see the business — To observe men’s various designs and EMPLOYMENTS, and their unwearied labours about worldly things. For there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep — Having now mentioned the business which is done, or which man doth, upon earth, he further adds, as an evidence of man’s eagerness in pursuing his business, For even by day and by night he — The busy man; seeth not sleep with his eyes — He grudges himself necessary refreshments, and disquiets himself with endless cares and labours.

K&D, "Verse 16-17“When I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to view the business which is done on the earth (for neither day nor night doth he see sleep with his eyes): then have I seen all the work of God, that a man is unable to find out the work which is done under the sun: therefore that a man wearieth himself to seek out, and yet findeth not; and although a wise man taketh in hand to know, - he is unable to find.” A long period without a premeditated plan has here formed itself under the hand of the author. As it lies before us, it is halved by the vav in (veraithi) (“then I have seen”); the PRINCIPAL clause, introduced by “when I gave,” can nowhere otherwise BEGIN than here; but it is not indicated by the syntactical structure. Yet in Chr. and Neh. apodoses of כאשר begin with the second consec. modus, e.g., 1 Chronicles 17:1; Nehemiah 4:1, and frequently; but the author here uses this modus only rarely, and not (vid., Ecclesiastes 4:1, Ecclesiastes 4:7) as a sign of an apodosis.We consider, first, the protasis, with the parenthesis in which it terminates. The phrase נתן to direct the heart, to give attention and effort toward something, we have now ,את־הלב לfrequently met with from Ecclesiastes 1:13 down. The aim is here twofold: (1) “to know wisdom” (cf. Ecclesiastes 1:17), i.e., to gain the knowledge of that which is wisdom, and which is to be regarded as wisdom, viz., solid knowledge regarding the essence, causes, and objects of things; (2) by such knowledge about that which wisdom is in itself “to see earthly labour,” and - this arises from the combination of the two resolutions - to comprehend this labour in accordance with the claims of true wisdom from the point of view of its last ground and aim. Regarding ('inyan), vid., under Ecclesiastes 3:10. “On the earth” and “under the sun” are parallel designations of this world.With גם כי begins a parenthetical clause. Ki may also, it is true, be rendered as at Ecclesiastes 8:17 : the labour on the earth, that he, etc. (Zöckl.); but this restlessness, almost renouncing sleep, is thereby pressed too much into the foreground as the special obj. of the (reuth) (therefore Ginsburg introduces “how that”); thus better to render this clause with ki gam, as establishing the fact that there is ('inyan), self-tormenting, restless labour on the earth. Thus also איננו is easier explained, which scarcely goes back to (laadam), Ecclesiastes 8:15 (Hitz.), but shows that the author, by)inyan, has specially men in view. גם… ובל is = גם בי גם בל: as well by day as by night, with the negat. following (cf. Numbers 23:25; Isaiah 48:8): neither by day nor by night; not only by day, but also in the night, not. “To see sleep” is a phrase occurring only here; cf. Terence, Heautontim. iii. 1. 82, Somnum hercle ego hac nocte oculis non vidi meis, for which we use the expression: “In this whole night my eyes have seen no sleep.” The not wishing to sleep, and not being able to sleep, is such an hyperbole, carrying its limitation in itself, as is found in Cicero

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(ad Famil. vii. 30): Fuit mirifica vigilantia, qui toto suo consulatu somnum non vidit.With ור, “Then I have seen,” begins the apodosis: vidi totum Dei opus non posse hominem assequi. As at Ecclesiastes 2:24, the author places the obj. in the foreground, and lets the pred. with ki follow (for other examples of this so-called antiposis, vid., under Genesis 1:4). He sees in the labour here below one side of God's work carrying itself forward amid this restless confusion, and sets forth this work of God, as at Ecclesiastes 3:11 (but where the CONNECTION of the thoughts is different), as an object of knowledge remaining beyond the reach of man. He cannot come to it, or, as מצאproperly means, he reaches not to it, therefore “that a man wearies himself to seek, and yet finds not,” i.e., that the SEARCH on the part of a man with all his endeavours comes not to its aim. אשר בכל Ewald's emendation, instead of the words of the text before us: for all this, that quantumcunque (Ewald, §362c), which seems to have been approved of by the lxx, Syr., and Jerome, is rightly rejected by Hitzig; (beshel asher) is Heb., exactly equivalent to Aram. בדיל ד, e.g., Genesis 6:3; and is rightly glossed by Rashi, Kimchi, Michlol 47b, by בשביל ש and בעבור ש. The accent dividing the verse stands on (yimetsa), for to this word extends the first half of the apodosis, with (vegam) begins the second. Gam im is = εἰ καί , as gam ki is = ἐὰν καί . יאמר is to be understood after אם אח, Ecclesiastes 7:23: also if (although) the wise man resolves to know, he cannot reach that which is to be known. The characteristic mark of the wise man is thus not so much the possession as the striving after it. He strives after knowledge, but the highest problems remain unsolved by him, and his ideal of knowledge unrealized.

17 then I saw all that God has done. �o one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.

BAR�ES, "These verses supplement Ecc_8:15 with the reflection that the man who goes beyond that limited sphere within which he can labor and be contented, and investigates the whole work of God, will find that his finite intelligence cannot grasp it.


Business - Or, “travail” Ecc_1:13; Ecc_3:10. The sleeplessness noted probably refers to the writer himself.

CLARK, "Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the

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work that is done under the sun - I saw it to be of such a nature -

1. That a man cannot find it out.

2. That if he labor to find it out, he shall not succeed.

3. That though he be wise - the most instructed among men, and think to find it out, he shall find he is not able. It is beyond the wisdom and power of man. How vain then are all your cavils about Providence. You do not understand it; you cannot comprehend it. Fear God!

GILL, "Then I beheld all the work of God,.... Not of creation, but of Providence; took notice of it, contemplated on it, considered it, and weighed it well; viewed the various steps and methods of it, to find out, if possible, at least, some general rule by which it proceeded: but all so various and uncertain,

that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: he can find out that it is done, but not the reason why it is done: the ways of God are in the deep,

and not to be traced; they are unsearchable and past finding out; there is a βαθος, a depth of wisdom and knowledge, in them, inscrutable by the wisest of men, Psa_72:19;

because, though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; Noldius and others render it "although"; not only a man that, in a slight and negligent manner, seeks after the knowledge of the works of divine Providence, and the reasons of them; but even one that is diligent and laborious at it is not able to find them out; they being purposely concealed by the Lord, to answer some ends of his;

yea, further, though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it; a man of a great natural capacity, such an one as Solomon himself, though he proposes to himself, and determines within himself to find it out, and sets himself to the work, and uses all the means and methods he can devise, and imagines with himself he shall be able to find out the reasons of the divine procedure, in his dispensations towards the righteous and the wicked; and yet, after all, he is not able to do it. The Targum is,

"what shall be done in the end of days;''

wherefore it is best for a man to be easy and quiet, and enjoy what he has in the best manner he can, and submit to the will of God.

HE�RY, "That it was all labour in vain, Ecc_8:17. When we look upon all the works of God and his providence, and compare one part with another, we cannot find that there is any such certain method by which the work that is done under the sun is directed; we cannot discover any key by which to decipher the character, nor by consulting precedents can we know the practice of this court, nor what the judgment will be. [1.] Though a man be ever so industrious, thou he labour to seek it out. [2.] Though he be ever so ingenious, though he be a wise man in other things, and can fathom the counsels of kings themselves and trace them by their footsteps. Nay, [3.] Though he be very confident of success, though he think to know it, yet he shall not; he cannot find it

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out. God's ways are above ours, nor is he tied to his own former ways, but his judgments are a great deep.

EBC, "The Quest Achieved. The Chief Good Is To Be Found, Not In Wisdom, Nor In Pleasure, Nor In Devotion To Affairs And Its Rewards; But In A Wise Use And A Wise Enjoyment Of The Present Life, Combined With A Steadfast

Faith In The Life To Come

AT last we approach the end of our Quest. The Preacher has found the Chief Good, and will show us where to find it. But are we even yet prepared to welcome it and to lay hold of it? Apparently he thinks we are not. For, though he has already warned us that it is not to be found in Wealth or Industry, in Pleasure or Wisdom, he repeats his warning in this last Section of his Book, as if he still suspected us of hankering after our old errors. Not till he has again assured us that we shall miss our mark if we seek the supreme Good in any of the directions in which it is commonly sought, does he direct us to the sole path in which we shall not seek in vain. Once more, therefore, we must gird up the loins of our mind to follow him along his several lines of thought, encouraged by the assurance that the end of our journey is not far off.

The Chief Good not to be found in Wisdom: Ecc_8:16-9:6

1. The Preacher commences this section by carefully defining his position and equipment as he starts on his final course. As yet he carries no lamp of revelation in his hand, although he will not venture beyond a certain point without it. For the present he will trust to reason and experience, and mark the conclusions to which these conduct when unaided by any direct light from Heaven. His first conclusion is that wisdom, which of all temporal goods still stands foremost with him, is incapable of yielding a true content. Much as it can do for man, it cannot solve the moral problems which task and afflict his heart, the problems which he must solve before he can be at peace. He may be so bent on solving these by wisdom as to see "no sleep in his eyes by day or night"; he may rely on wisdom with a confidence so genuine as to suppose at times that by its help he has "found out all the work of God"-really solved all the mysteries of the Divine Providence; but nevertheless "he has not found it out"; the illusion will soon pass, and the unsolved mysteries reappear dark and sombre as of old. (Ecc_8:16-17) And the proof that he has failed is, first, that he is as incompetent to foresee the future as those who are not so wise as he. With all his sagacity, he cannot tell whether he shall meet "the love or the hatred" of his fellows. His lot is as closely hidden in "the hand of God" as theirs, although he may be as much better as he is wiser than they Ecc_9:1. A second proof is that "the same fate" overtakes both the wise and the foolish, the righteous and the wicked, and he is as unable to escape it as any of his neighbours. All die; and to men ignorant of the heavenly hope of the gospel the indiscrimination of death seems the most cruel and hopeless of wrongs. The Preacher, indeed, is not ignorant of that bright hope; but as yet he has not taken the lamp of revelation into his hand: he is simply speaking the thought of those who have no higher guide than reason, no brighter light than reflection. And to these, their wisdom having taught them that to do right is infinitely better than to do wrong, no fact was so monstrous and inscrutable as that their lives should run to the same disastrous close with the lives of evil and violent men, that all alike should fall into the hands of "that churl, Death." As they revolved this fact, their hearts grew hot with a fierce resentment as natural as it was impotent, a resentment all the hotter because they knew how impotent it was. Therefore the Preacher dwells on this fact, lingers over his description of it adding touch to touch. "One fate comes to all," he says, "to the righteous and to the wicked, to the pure and to the impure, to the religious and to the irreligious,

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to the profane and to the reverent." If death be a good, the maddest fool and the vilest reprobate share it with the sage and the saint." If death be an evil, it is inflicted on the good as well as on the bad. None is exempt. Of all wrongs this is the greatest; of all problems this is the most insoluble. Nor is there any doubt as to the nature of death. To him for whom there shines no light of hope behind the darkness of the grave, death is the supreme evil. For to the living, however deject and wretched, there is still some hope that times may mend: even though in outward condition despicable as that unclean outcast, a dog-the homeless and masterless scavenger of Eastern cities-he had some advantage over the royal lion who, once couched on a throne, now lies in the dust rotting to dust. The living know at least that they must die; but the dead know not anything. The living can recall the past, and their memory harps fondly on notes which were once most sweet; but the very memory of the dead has perished, no music of the happy past can revive on their dulled sense, nor will any recall their names. The heavens are fair; the earth is beautiful and generous; the works of men are many and diverse and great; but they have "no more any portion forever in aught that is done under the sun" (Ecc_9:2-6).

This is the Preacher’s description of the hapless estate of the dead. His words would go straight home to the hearts of the men for whom he wrote, with a force even beyond that which they would have for heathen races. In their captivity, they had renounced the worship of idols. They had renewed their covenant with Jehovah. Many of them were devoutly attached to the ordinances and commandments which they and their fathers had neglected in happier and more prosperous years. Yet their lives were made bitter to them with cruel bondage, and they had as little hope in their death as the Persians who embittered their lives, and probably even less. It was in this sore strait, and under the strong compulsions of the dreadful extremity, that the more studious and pious of their rabbis, like the Preacher himself, drew into an expressive context the passages scattered through their Sacred Books which hinted at a retributive life beyond the tomb, and settled into that firm persuasion of the immortality of the soul which, as a rule, they never henceforth altogether let go. But when the Preacher wrote, this settled and general conviction had not been reached. There were many among them who, as their thoughts circled round the mystery of death, could only cry, "Is this the end? is this the end?" To the great majority of them it seemed the end. And even the few, who sought an answer to the question by blending the Greek and Oriental with the Hebrew wisdom, attained no clear answer to it. To mere human wisdom, life remained a mystery, and death a mystery still more cruel and impenetrable. Only those who listened to the Preachers and Prophets taught of God beheld the dawn which already began to glimmer on the darkness in which men sat.

SBC, "Ecclesiastes 8:17

One of the most curious things to think of in the world is the inconceivable number of secrets which lie around us in nature, in humanity, in the lives and characters of those whom we know or those we love. It is even more curious to think how much of the interest of human life, of its work, its thoughts, of its affections, dwells in the fact of these secrets. The sting of our ignorance is the spur of life; and the consciousness of a secret to discover is the flavour of happiness, though the flavour is sometimes too bitter.

I. In nature we meet a secret to which we know we have no key. The feeling of that secret has been universal in man. It lies at the root of half of the religion and mythology of the world. It is the solution of that secret which we seek through life, which all art has

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sought incessantly. But we get no reply, except a reply half of pity, half of mockery. There is no face so full of the wild satire of secrecy as the face of nature.

II. Still more profound, still more mocking, though never so delightful, is the secret of humanity. There is a tragedy in it which is not in the secret of nature, and which makes our interest in it more passionate, more dreadful, more bitter, more absorbing. The existence of the secret precludes dull repose. It kindles an insatiable and noble curiosity; and wherever its pursuit is hottest, there is man most noble. When its excitement lessens or nearly dies, then we get what we call the dark ages, and man is base. But that never can last long; the secret of humanity springs up again to lure us after it: and the mark of all times when man has awakened into a new resurrection has been this, and this more than all things else: deep and wonderful interest in mankind, pursuit of the secrets of humanity.

III. What use is there in the secret? How can we retain its charm, and get its good, and purify ourselves from the fear, and anger, and sloth, and despair we know it creates in many? (1) Its use may lie in this: in the education which the excitement it creates gives to all our nature; in the way it awakens all our passions, all our intellect, all our spirit, and leads them through a tempest in which they are purified from their evil, in which, their excess being exhausted, calm and the tempered balance of them become possible. (2) The answer to the second question is to do as the religious Greek did who threw himself on the eternal justice of God: to throw ourselves on the eternal love of a Father. To do that is to know that there must be a Divine and good end to all; to know that all which we see, however dark it be, is education; to know the victory of goodness, justice, and truth, and knowing it, to throw ourselves on that side, and to feel that in doing so we are chiming in with God and yielding our lives and will into His hand.

S. A. Brooke, Sermons, 2nd series, p. 161.

BE�SO�, "Ecclesiastes 8:17. Then — Hebrew, and, or, moreover, I beheld all the work of God — I considered the counsels and ways of God, and the various methods of his providence toward good and bad men, and the reasons of them. That a man cannot find out the work, &c. — �o man, though ever so wise, is able fully and perfectly to understand these things. And therefore, it is best for man not to perplex himself with endless and fruitless inquiries about those matters, but quietly to SUBMIT to God’s will and providence, and to live in the fear of God, and the comfortable enjoyment of his blessings.

PULPIT, "Then I beheld all the work of God. This is the apodosis to the first clause of Ecc_8:16. "God's work" is the same as the work that is done under the sun, and means men's actions and the providential ordering thereof. This a man, with his finite understanding, cannot find out, cannot thoroughly comprehend or explain (comp. Ecc_3:11; Ecc_7:23, Ecc_7:24). Because though a man labor to seek it out. The Septuagint has, Ὅσα ἂν µοχθήσῃ , "Whatsoever things a man shall labor to seek;" Vulgate, Quanto plus laboraverit ad quaerendum, tanto minus inveniat. The interpreters waver between "how much so ever," and "wherefore a man labors." The latter seems to be best. Though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it. It is the part of wisdom to determine to know all that can be known; but the resolution is baffled here (comp. Ecc_7:23). The two verses, with their

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repetitions and tautologous expressions, seem to denote perturbation of mind in the author and his sense of the gravity of his assertions. He is overwhelmed with the thought of the inscrutability of God's judgments, while he is forced to face the facts. An exquisite commentary on this passage is found in Hooker, 'Eccl. Pol.,' 1.2. § 2, quoted by Plumptre; and in Bishop Butler's sermon 'On the Ignorance of Man,' where we read, "From it [the knowledge of our ignorance] we may learn with what temper of mind a man ought to inquire into the subject of religion, namely, with what expectation of finding difficulties, and with a disposition to take up and rest satisfied with any evidence whatever which is real. A man should beforehand expect things mysterious, and such as he will not be able thoroughly to comprehend or go to the bottom of …. Our ignorance is the proper answer to many things which are called objections against religion, particularly to those which arise from the appearance of evil and irregularity in the constitution of nature and the government of the world Since the constitution of nature and the methods and designs of Providence in the government of the world are above our comprehension, we should acquiesce in and rest satisfied with our ignorance, turn our thoughts from that which is above and beyond us, and apply ourselves to that which is level to our capacities, and which is our real business and concern …. Lastly, let us adore that infinite wisdom and power and goodness which is above our comprehension (Ecclesiasticus 1:6).

The conclusion is that in all lowliness of mind we set lightly by ourselves; that we form our temper to an implicit submission to the Divine Majesty, beget within ourselves an absolute resignation to all the methods of his providence in his dealings with the children of men; that in the deepest humility of our souls we prostrate ourselves before him, and join in that celestial song, 'Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy �ame?' (Rev_15:3, Rev_15:4) (comp. Rom_11:33).

YOU�G 9-17, "These verses show the utter inability of man to under-

stand Divine dispensations. Study so intense as to cause

sleepless nights, cannot solve the riddle of existence.

Without a revelation, through what inextricable mazes

does the mind wander ! But adored be the name of God

for his blessed word. Life and immortality are brought

to light by the gospel !


I. The crown of glory is the only crown worthy of our

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ambition. Earthly crowns are often filled with thorns.

" One man ruleth over another to his own hurt." The

sword of power has often been plunged into the heart

of him that bore it. Especially have usurpers often met

with a violent death. And oppressors have been made

examples of God's displeasure. Read the books of Kings

and Chronicles : — how many of the kings of Israel and

.ludah mounted the throne to suffer and be disgraced.

Saul died in battle. Ishbosheth was assassinated. The

good David was tried with three or four rebellions, and

one of them got up by his own petted and beautiful son.

�adab was slain by Baasha. Baasha's son Elah was mur-

dered by Zimri. Zimri was dethroned and perished mis-

erably. Ahab, the murderer and oppressor, was slain in

battle ; and the dogs licked up his blood where he had

caused �aboth to be slain. Jehoram was slain by Jehu.

Jehoash, after great calamities, was slain by his servants.

Amaziah of .ludah was slain by conspirators. Zechariah

was murdered by Shallum. Shallum was murdered in

turn. Pekahiah was murdered by his captain Pekah.

Pekah by Hoshea. Hoshea was made a captive by Shal-

manezer of Assyria. Manasseh was carried captive to

Babylon. Amon, his son, was slain by his own servants.

The good Josiah, going to war against Pharaoh �echo,

was slain. Jehoiachin was slain. Zedekiah's sons were

slain before his eyes, his eyes put out, and he carried cap-

tive to Babylon.


The royal line of the Stuarts is among the most un-

fortunate in the records of history. Their destiny fol-

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lowed them through the long period of nearly 400 years.

Robert III., king of Scotland, died of a broken heart,

occasioned by his oldest son, Robert, having been starved

to death, and his youngest son James being made a pris-


James I. his son, was taken prisoner by the English,

and remained in confinement eighteen years. On his re-

turn to Scotland, after having beheaded three of his nearest

kindred, he was himself assassinated by his own relations

as a punishment.

James II. w^as killed by a cannon shot at the siege of


James III. succeeded his father, James II. He put to

death his brother John, and would have destroyed his

other brother Alexander, but he escaped, and levied war

against him. James was defeated in battle, and having

fallen from his horse, took refuge in a mill, where he was

discovered and put to death.

James IV. was slain in the battle of Flodden field.

James V. died of grief for the loss of his army at Solway

Moss. He left his dominions to his only daughter, Mary

Stuart (better known as the unfortunate Mary, Queen of

Scots,) who, after suffering eighteen years of iniprisonment,

was beheaded at Fotheringay Castle, �orthamptonshire,

on the 8th of February, 1587.

Henry Stuart, Earl of Darnley, the husband of Mary,

Queen of Scots, died the victim of revenge. His house

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in Edinburgh was blown up in the night by gunpowder, and

the unfortunate monarch's body was found next day in a

field adjoining. It may be added, that Charles I. was also

beheaded ; and finally his son, James II., expelled, and

with him the direct line of the Stuarts was driven from



the throne of Britain. The last of the direct hne died a

cardinal in Rome under the title of " Cardinal York."

The Bourbon royal family has fared but little better.

It was once one of the most powerful and distinguished

families in Europe. The descendants of the proud and

magnificent Louis XIV. have had little else than exile

and sorrow. Well may kings abdicate their thrones rather

than venture the danger of royalty. And well may sub-

jects be satisfied with their obscurity.

But there are thrones which shall never be abdicated.

" I saw thrones (Rev. xx. 4,) and they sat upon them."

" To him that overcometh," says Jesus, " will I grant to

sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and

am set down with my Father in his throne." Rev. iii. 21.

Yes there will be a crown also for conquerors ; a crown

of joy, a crown of glory, a crown of life. Paul knew

that there was laid up for him "a crown of righteousness."

Peter tells of " a crown of glory that fadeth not away,"

given by the chief Shepherd. Jesus promises " a crown

of life " to those that are " faithful unto death." That

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crown will not subject the wearer to danger. May I be

thus crowned. May every reader reign as a king in

heaven ; and cast his crown at the feet of Jesus, saying,

" Thou art worthy !"

" Palms of glory, raiments bright,

Crowns that never fade away.

Gird and deck the saints in light,

Priests, and kings, and conquerors they.

" Yet the conquerors bring their palms

To the Lamb amidst the throne ;

And proclaim in joyful psalms,

Victory through his cross alone.

" Kings their crowns for harps resign,

Oying as they strike the chords,

Take the kingdom, it is thine.

King of kings and Lord of lords."


II. The contrast between the prospects of the righteous

and wicked is striking. " It shall be well with the right-

eous; — it shall not be well with the wicked." However

mysterious God's providence towards his people now, they

will be able at last to say with the stricken mother who

went to the prophet on the death of her darling boy ; —

" It is well." While it is true that " the heart knoweth

his own bitterness," the heart of the righteous has joys

that the stranger intermeddleth not with. The storm may

rage, — the angry heavens may seem about to pour their

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deluge of wrath upon his head : — he sits serene beneath

the tempest; and awaits the time when its fury shall be

spent, and the rainbow shall tell that sun-beams have re-

turned, and that the earth is refreshed by what seemed a

visit of wrath. And when the last storm has spent itself,

and the shadows have fled away for ever, — then those that

fear God shall enjoy the fulness of his love, and find what is

now wrought out for them in tears and conflicts, to be " a

far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

�ot so the wicked ! Those hearts that now know their

own bitterness will see that the dregs of the cup which

they now sip lightly are far more bitter. The raging

storm that now appals them, will summon all its terrors

and sweep them away into " the blackness of darkness

lor ever." " There shall be weeping, and gnashing of

teeth, when they shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob,

and all the prophets in the kingdom of heaven, and they

themselves thrust out."

If, like David, we begin to repine at seeing the present

prosperity of the wicked, and the present afflictions of the

righteous; let us follow them, as he did, into the sanctuary.

There we shall learn their end ! There we shall see them

standing on slippery places over the yawning gulf about

to receive them !


Let us not yet turn our eyes from the image of the

righteous now passed over Jordan, and fairly in the blessed

city above. Happy in themselves and in God, the joys

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of the saved will increase by the arrival of other redeemed

ones to share their bliss, till vast myriads shall crowd

around the throne. Oh, it will be well to exchange the

society of our best beloved on earth (for they are imper-

fect,) for the fellowship of all holy intelligences. It will

be well to dwell with our blessed Redeemer, where there

" shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor sighing." Oh,

it will be well to rest for ever from labours, and toils, and

passions, and sins, and be spotless as the adoring cherub,

and earnest as the burning seraph !

III. Delays are not reprieves. The sentence may

delay to be executed, but it will not on that account fail

to be executed. Let not the sinner therefore begin to

say, " Where is the promise of his coming ?" He delays,

but it is in long-suffering mercy ; — it is because he de-

lighteth not in the death of sinners. He is slow to anger,

and he waits to be gracious. But the longest day of

mercy must have a close, and the sinner spared from day

to day will be obliged at length to face the judgment.

The day of grace may close suddenly. God may say,

" Because I have called and ye refused, I have stretched

out my hand, and no man regarded ; but ye have set at

naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I

also will laugh at your calamity ; I will mock when your

fear cometh ; when your fear cometh as desolation, and

your destruction cometh as a whirlwind ; when distress

and anguish cometh upon you." Prov. i. 24-27. The

only refuge from the coming storm is the shelter provided

by infinite love. Jesus is the hiding-place from the tem-

pest. Careless sinner, you cannot take ref ige in his love

too soon !

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. 8:8 Or over his spirit to retain it

. 8:9 Or to their

. 8:10 Some Hebrew manuscripts and Septuagint (Aquila); most Hebrew manuscripts and are forgotten