Ecclesiastes 8:2-17 Solomon goes to work, hoping he can find some of his answers to life on his job. In Solomon’s day, the ultimate authority in government was the king. And Solomon was the king of his nation and had great insight and wisdom into developing proper relationships with authority. Even if we live under a completely different type of government, we can still profit from his words.
We should obey the authorities because we are citizens of that country. You have taken an oath as a citizen and should obey its laws because of the oath that you have taken. “Keep the king’s commandment as though it were an oath unto God.” Ecclesiastes 8:2 Obedience is not based on convenience, but rather, we owe it because the government is ordained of God. Romans 13: 1
Do not show disrespect to those in authority. We are very foolish to act in an improper manner toward government officials. We must learn to give honor unto whom honor is due. Romans 13:7 There is no government that does not have some evil in it, but that does not give us the right to become rebellious toward our leaders. Ecclesiastes 8:3
There will be times when we believe government authorities are wrong, but we must be careful that we do not develop wrong attitudes toward government. There are proper ways to disagree with officials. We must not become rebels, defying authority, or we will find that government has greater power than we do and does not bear the sword in vain. We will be punished if we do not obey the laws. Romans 13:2 It is wisdom to obey the government, as the laws were created for the common good of everyone. There is safety in obeying the laws. Ecclesiastes 8:4
The wise man knows there is a proper time and procedure for everything. Submission is not blind passivity but knowing the right time to make an appeal to those in authority. Timing is very important to be successful in life, and those who are discerning will know what time it is. Ecclesiastes 3: 1 The foolish, even though they may be in power, hurt themselves because of bad timing.
When we try to live life as though there is no God or eternity, there are many things that don’t make sense. There are many mysteries that only frustrate us because we have too little understanding to be able to solve them. Some mysteries cannot be explained by our limited human knowledge and experience.
This is the mystery of ungodly praise. Solomon observes a wicked man’s funeral. This man had attended church but had never repented and changed his wicked ways. When he died, though, many people praised the sinner like he had lived a good life. Both the wicked man and the people who praised him were foolish. The wicked received an opportunity to repent but had wasted it, and yet the people spoke good words about him like he had been a righteous man. Ecclesiastes 8: 10
This is the mystery of unjust triumph. Many times punishment against evil deeds is delayed. Because of this, people think they can get away with their crimes and begin to live very sinful lives. But Solomon sees they do not get away with evil, for sooner or later, they will be caught and punished. Even before they are caught and face judgment, their lives are like fleeing shadows that have no substance. The long life of the sinner is simply the beginning of an eternal night of darkness. Wickedness will eventually bring us to disaster. Ecclesiastes 8:11
This is the mystery of unfair consequences. It is very confusing and perplexing to see wicked men receiving the rewards of the righteous and the righteous receiving wicked men’s punishments. There are so many things in this life that we cannot explain. The person who has to know everything, or thinks he does know everything, will soon be disappointed. Ecclesiastes 8: 14
This is the mystery of unhappy lives. Solomon concludes that since much of life is a mystery, rather than trying to figure everything out, we should learn to enjoy what we have. This is the fourth time Solomon has told us to enjoy life. Instead of complaining about what we don’t have and blaming the government, we should learn to give thanks and richly enjoy the things we do have. He is not saying we should eat, drink and be merry like a party, but there is no use worrying about things you don’t control. You can’t change them, but you can choose to enjoy them today.