We continue with our series on the book of Ecclesiastes on Wisdom Wednesday with Chapter 8. Today, we talk about wisdom in obeying authority how the wicked will end in death.
The chapter begins with one verse that actually close out chapter seven’s thoughts on wisdom. It tells us that wisdom will brighten a man’s face from a hard appearance. Does this necessarily mean that wisdom will make us happier? I don’t think so. What I think is that with the understanding of the wisdom given to us, we can walk away from whatever the situation is with a peaceful heart. This is true even if the situation isn’t a happier ever after.
Verse 2 begins the series of verses on the wisdom of obeying the king. While Solomon was speaking about kings of his time, including himself, I think we can take the wisdom learned here and apply it today. Solomon talks about obedience of leadership. When we are born, we are citizens of wherever we are born. Living under the law of that land, the oath of being obedient is mentally taken of the written law. When we join the work force as adults, we sign to work for this employer and do a good job, being obedient to management. In verse 3, we are told about the king doing what he pleases. In the work force, this is working by the company’s rules. If we question that authority, we can be disciplined or even fired. In the time of kings, that kind of questioning could have led to someone’s death.
That’s why Verse 5 becomes important. If we obey the command, no harm will come. Solomon continues this thought further though. He tells us that if we are wise, we’ll know the proper time to act. Do you ever feel like you or anyone else acts without thinking or without taking time to do things in the right way. This happens everyday in jobs and even in our churches. This is why we miss out on success. We tend to get the cart before the horse and don’t wait until the right time.
Solomon explains something in verse 6 about this. The waiting is often the hardest part because it does weigh on us. I don’t know if misery, as stated in the NIV, is the right word for it though. When most of us want change, we want that change quickly. Our society has even stressed that more lately. As Burger King used to have as a slogan, “We want it our way, right away.” It’s true. That leads us to be out of step with people and God.
Verses 7 & 8 focus on the fact that none of us can foresee the future, so it is hard to walk up to leaders and say that this is the way things can go. It’s a guess. We can have all the analytical data and still be wrong. If you don’t believe me, ask the banking and car industries. But verse 8 also adds that no one knows when the end is, either their own life or the end of time. But we learn one more item here. If you begin messing with evil, it will always have some sort of hold on you. If you’ve seen any of the gangster movies, once you are in the family, you are IN the family. The only way out is usually your demise.
In verses 9 & 10, Solomon discusses how he is disturbed by wicked people lording their leadership over others. He realizes that in the end, they end up hurting themselves an dying known as wicked people. He sees that while they were alive, they were praised. This wasn’t because their work was good, but because of fear or pressure or some other devise of the wicked.
Solomon is quick to note something important in verse 11. If wickedness appears to be going unchecked, others begin to scheme evil themselves. He says that this evil will not go well with these people in verse 13. But between these verses, he feels led to explain to us in verse 12 that life will end better for those that choose not to do evil. He wants people to understand that God really wants reverence and good done. While he feels that in the end good gets blessed by God, he adds in verse 14 that sometimes on earth, it doesn’t always end that way. He passes this off as meaningless, so he tells people to enjoy their lives in their work and by doing so, joy will be with them.
But he closes with verses 16 & 17 giving praise to God because no one can understand all that He does. We try to figure all of life out and fail. We may come away with some understanding, but nowhere close to encapsulating the whole picture.
Next Wednesday, we look at Chapter 9 and the common destiny for all of us, good or bad, and begin a contrast of wisdom and folly.
I love you guys!